What’s Aspirational for You?

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Today I break new ground in the world of automotive journalism. Today, I make fun of yuppies. Yuppies that have no idea about what they buy other than the fact that every single one of their mates owns one.

Every generation has had their own particular breach of young urban professionals with a lust for money and a care for nothing else. Usually highly educated, not understanding or caring of why poor people simply don’t get more money. Dressed in expensive tailored clothing that’s so up to date that it’s completely indistinguishable from what everyone else in their circle is wearing. That’s the image of yuppies that we’ve been presented with since the eighties. American Psycho is perhaps the finest example of yuppie criticism around and based partially on Bret Easton Ellis’ Father. Although I’m going to go ahead and say that the more graphic scenes depicted on the book and the movie are really made up. The one thing that it doesn’t touch about yuppiedom of the eighties, however, are the cars (at least in the movie version).
Yes, after all, nobody has more of a second to see your exquisite Armani suit and the amazing Jean Paul Gaultier tie you’ve chosen to contrast it when you’re driving along. You needed a set of wheels to show your style and class to the unfortunate masses. In the case of the average ‘80s yuppie, it was mostly two cars: The Porsche 944 and the Mercedes 560 SEL. Nothing like a couple of German icons of excess and over engineering to keep the man who needs to make sure everyone knows where he’s  standing in life.
Or at least not suicidal.
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Nowadays things like the BMW M4 and the BMW 6 Series fill that niche in the U.S and in Europe. When the guys from Top Gear asked stockbrockers what cars they owned, they all answered with a BMW alphanumeric. Latin America is different however, as our bonuses aren’t nearly as opulent and our standard of living is considerably lower. So what do you buy when you earn an excellent wage for your country (read: A mediocre American wage) and you want to buy a car to show that you are upwardly mobile? In my neck of the woods, you buy one of these.
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This is the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. Better known to people stateside as the Lexus GX. New ones can go for upwards of $90,000.00 in this neck of the woods. Amazing when you consider that this is a vehicle that was supposed to take the place of the normal Land Cruiser Amazon but instead decided to move upmarket and chase the Range Rover. This is what the Central American yuppie covets to convey some class and prestige to other motorists. The same vehicle used by UN commissions when they have to go deep into the deserts and jungles around the world.
Not a BMW, not an Audi or a Mercedes, not even its Lexus counterpart which, incidentally, you can buy cheaper. No, they want the diesel Toyota Body-on-Frame SUV. If you can figure why it became so popular, do let me know, it’s as nonsensical as suddenly deciding that fancy restaurants are out and going to McD’s for a fancy dinner is in. Something that I could really see becoming trendy because people do it “ironically”.
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All I can think of is the ever present sense of paranoia that the well-off feel in a region as troubled as this one and that they think buying something with a Toyota badge will mean they’ll be less likely to be targeted. It’s not like everybody in a position of power has one already. Me? I’d buy a BMW 3-Series, save myself forty thousand dollars and know that I’m driving something that’s actually worth what I paid for it.
Then again, I can’t tell a suit’s brand just by looking at it.

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  1. Devin Avatar

    In rural Saskatchewan the upwardly mobile tend to buy top end pickups, it's kind of a need to show you're successful (by buying the biggest, shiniest truck you can) but are still of the people (after all, you still drive a Ford, Chevy or Dodge, attempts to put a luxury badge on a big truck failed completely). I personally don't have any desire to buy a big truck, but it tends to be what people do when they've got a bit of success around here.

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      In Mexico it's called El Troca Del Año. Essentially, "this year's model" of truck.

    2. Preludacris Avatar

      Followed three fullsize pickups out of my upper-middle class neighbourhood the other day.
      Suburban BC instead of rural SK, but your description still somehow fits perfectly.

    3. Wildcat_445 Avatar

      All the dimwitted urban rednecks around here do the same. A foul mouthed, beer swilling lot whose place in society is to make everyone's lives miserable, leaving behind a string of abused ex-wives, and forgotten offspring. Prides of the tractor pull and/or the trailer park. These are the ones in goatees and cowboy boots, stickers on the rear window (usually a Harley sticker, or a "Calvin-peeing-on-the-competitor-logo" sticker), and of course, their Redneck Cadillac of choice, decked out with every option, whose only "offroad" action (and use of the trailer hitch option package) is pulling out a wayward bush from their front lawn. As we say around here, their choice in "big" trucks is obviously compensation for shortcomings elsewhere (beside their IQ). These are the type-A personalities who cut off and tailgate everyone on the road, bullying their way through traffic, while miraculously never getting pulled over by the cops (where they'd probably blow a 0.12 from all the cheap beer they've been guzzling all day).
      Sort of a dumbed-down alternative to a yuppie, if you think about it long enough–all image and attitude, and conscious of what others think about them.
      I have no problem with pickup trucks or BMWs, but for those few who act so obnoxious (urban rednecks and yuppies both), they give both a bad name. Me? I drive around in a 17 year old rusting car, ride in sweats or jeans, and just try to disappear into the woodwork. No stickers, no beer, no Armani suits either. The anti-yuppie perhaps? Works for me. I got plenty of my own bad habits to be pigeonholed with. 😉

  2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    "…it’s as nonsensical as suddenly deciding that fancy restaurants are out and going to McD’s for a fancy dinner is in."
    A fancy dinner at McD's? That's absurd. Everyone knows that Taco Bell won the franchise wars.
    <img src="http://static.underthegunreview.net/uploads/2012/05/demo1.jpg&quot; width="480">

    1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
      PotbellyJoe ★★★★★


  3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    I can tell a suit maker just by looking at it as well as women's attire brands. I aspire to own a 997 GT3. Why? Because it's an amazing piece of technology that demands much from the driver.
    I live in the land of Middle Managers driving Acura MDXs and those not wanting SUVs driving Hybrid or Electric cars. I passed three Teslas on my way to work this morning.
    My neighbors on one side walk to work. My other neighbor doesn't own a car and I am currently lending him a bike while I fix his. I don't worry about keeping up with them. It's why I love having them as neighbors. We can crack beers and enjoy our houses without getting in a pissing match every time someone wants to BBQ.
    The best way to win in a race of arbitrary goals is to remove yourself from the race and focus on what you actually enjoy instead of attempting eliciting feelings of envy among colleagues by doing something you couldn't care less about.
    You know these neighborhoods when you drive through them. Increasingly elaborate topiaries are the first sign.
    That's all my $0.02.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      "I can tell a suit maker just by looking at it…"
      Say hello to Niles for us.

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        He asked when you were going to return the Le Creuset stockpot.
        I work in a highly detail oriented business and subtle differences mean a lot. It's not my fault I can do it. Years of walking through SoHo I guess.

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          Frasier: But Norm, you have a gift.
          Norm: A gift? Try a curse, pal. I spent my whole damn life trying to cover up the fact that I have a great sense of color and I always know where to put the ottoman.

          1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
            PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

            I liked that show, but I didn't watch it religiously. I liked Roz more than Daphne.

          2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

            Wrong show. Norm never made it to Seattle from Boston.

          3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
            PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

            But the Niles side, was he on Cheers? That's where my head was. And Norm was on one episode of Frasier, but it was in Boston.

          4. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            The Norm quote is from Cheers. In one episode, he redecorated Frasier and Lilith's home, which made all their uppity friends assume he was gay.

          5. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
            PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

            Yeah, I get that now. I was 11 when Cheers went off air and I haven't seen many of the episodes. I know the characters, but not the episodes.
            Ask me something Simpsons related and I can relay it like it's my own history. Haha.

          6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            That makes me 19 years older than you, so…

          7. smalleyxb122 Avatar

            Which makes you 16 years older than me, so…

          8. 1977chevytruck Avatar

            Which makes you 20 years older than me, so…

          9. skitter Avatar

            I am too old to know how to use AltaVista to find a fan site on Geocities and learn when Cheers went off the air.

          10. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            You can do anything at Zombo.com.

      2. Mike Avatar

        He doesn't even adjust the clock on his Mercedes E320.

    2. skitter Avatar

      Mom: Did you make it through X's wedding without being inappropriate? What did the bridesmaids wear?
      Me: *thinking…* Dresses.

      1. Eric Rood Avatar
        Eric Rood

        For most of the night, anyway, amirite? Right? Get it? Because they had to put pajamas on to go to sleep after the wedding?
        I screwed that up, didn't I?

    3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
      PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

      And by "You know these neighborhoods when you drive through them. Increasingly elaborate topiaries are the first sign."
      I of course mean the neighborhoods to avoid.

  4. Alff Avatar

    Aspriational for me would be rust/body repair and fresh coats of paint for the cars I've got.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Aspirational for me would be a free day devoted to applying the paint I already have to the parts I have already repaired.

  5. Batshitbox Avatar

    San Francisco is Teslas. Prius' are for the Hoi Polloi.
    The BMW craze of the '80s I always thought was rooted in BMW 2002s being the cheap imports the Baby Boomers drove in college. Their parents, the WW2 vets, opened up that market.
    Also, Canary yellow SAABs with black plastic lowers, those were such a hit with the Yuppie who wanted to stand out from the crowd, while needing the crowd to see them.
    <img src="http://dyn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SaabC900ConvMCY.jpg&quot; width=500>
    I'm spending my lottery money on Bentleys. A modern one for daily driving and a slanty eyed S3 for the weekends. Or the other way around.
    <img src="http://www.vanlaarclassiccars.nl/images/verkoop/ChineseEyes_Ernest/ChineseEyes1.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. Gerardo Solis Avatar
      Gerardo Solis

      " Canary yellow SAABs with black plastic lowers, those were such a hit with the Yuppie who wanted to stand out from the crowd, while needing the crowd to see them. "
      To be fair, that looks very cool.

    2. craigsu Avatar

      To be precise, that's Monte Carlo Yellow. Just sayin'…

  6. david42 Avatar

    My automotive tastes are modest enough that I would have no problem getting my hands on the obscure not-quite-classics that I obsess over.
    The real problem: finding somewhere to put them. I live in a crowded, expensive city. I aspire to another parking space!

  7. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    You know, I have absolutely no idea what I aspire to. I want to enjoy driving loads and loads of cars in the future, but don't really care if any of them ever become mine.
    Ten years hence I see a beautiful detached house with big gardens and kids playing outside. And there's still a '98 Audi and a '97 Rover on the driveway.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      A detached house? In England? My, you DO aim high.

  8. Schm Avatar

    Probably brand new loaded GMC Yukons and Tahoes here in the midwestern Suburbia. And the small German SUVs are ubiquitous – X3, Q5, GLK, so on.

  9. eggsalad Avatar

    I aspire to a RWD, Diesel, station wagon with a clutch. Oh wait, I already had one.
    <iframe src="https://www.flickr.com/photos/14198428@N03/14634309193/player/&quot; width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

      1. CoastieLenn Avatar

        That is a thing of beauty. Why would anyone "thumbs down" it?

  10. nanoop Avatar

    I have a 944. It's golden, but humble marketing calls it light bronze. A yuppie car in a yuppie color. Alas, I am not very young, I live next to a forest, and in many respects I am not very professional…
    I don't care for new cars. I want to fix the 944 and learn about it, and I will have to replace the 14yo Focus with something else in the next two years.

  11. topdeadcentre Avatar

    I aspire to own and drive almost anything made by Voitures Voisin, Isotta-Fraschini, or Talbot-Lago.
    This would require owning a serious pied-a-terre with garaging in France, out in the countryside with those lovely roads, preferably with its own chateau and vineyards.
    Aim high.

    1. nigelmgb Avatar

      Aim high, indeed TDC. What a wonderful aspiration. The imagery is glorious. May it happen for you. ]

  12. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    I just need to own a Defender 110 Pickup at some point in my life and I'll be happy…
    I rode in one when I went to Scotland for that Aston Martin event (posted video of it awhile back). I loved it more than anything else from that trip (well… besides the damn castle we stayed in)

  13. Maymar Avatar

    I'd say in the Toronto area, your C-Class/A4/3-Series is the ground floor on aspirational, but it really seems to depend on the neighbourhood. My old neighbourhood was so littered with older Saabs, you'd be shocked they went out of business. And my previous landlords owned what I assume had to be at least a $5 million property (12 unit apartment building in a good location), but just drove a late-model Subaru Forester.
    For the time being, my aspirational amounts to a Golf Wagon and a second parking spot to house a rotating selection of oddball hoopties. Or, swapping out my current motorcycle for a moderately sized standard.

  14. ptschett Avatar

    My aspirations are more toward quantity than "quality" (of the snooty Mercedes/Lexus/BMW/Audi/etc. kind).
    I've got a good start with a midsize pickup (Dodge Dakota) and a late-model large-ish coupe (Dodge Challenger; either my current 2010 or upcoming 2015), and I keep another big coupe ('96 Ford Thunderbird) elsewhere. But I wouldn't mind having a C/D-segment sedan for people-hauling (Dart/Avenger/Fusion/Mazda6/etc.-ish), a B/C-segment hot hatch (Fiesta ST, Fiat 500 Abarth, etc.), and perhaps some kind of convertible (maybe an S197 Mustang GT?)
    Ideally I'd also have a few motorcycles. Probably something more dual-sportish (on a KLR650 / V-Strom 650 / Triumph Scrambler axis) and also something more road-oriented (600cc I-4 race replica? big displacement cruiser? UJM? etc…)

  15. CCTL Avatar

    Aspirational new vehicles only after the wife gets the new [boring] vehicle she wants: Tesla sedan, Cadillac ATS-V sedan or Porsche Cayman.
    Aspirational used/vintage vehicles, in no particular order: Aston Martin DBS (original) or '70s-'80s V8, Maserati Indy, Ferrari F355-430, Lambo Miura P400S, Iso Grifo.

    1. topdeadcentre Avatar

      At least she doesn't want a nice Champagne Beige Camry.

  16. Sjalabais Avatar

    Interesting article. The LandCruiser certainly conveys a "you've made it"-vibe in Northern Europe, too. BMW and Audi had that market tightly in their grip when Tesla showed up and decapitated them. A big Audi Q7 is still the thing to have when you go to your cabin in the mountains though, and it is as obvious and oblivious as the stockbroker's numbered answers. You may stick out with a Rangerover or, if you like to talk about yourself, a Lexus. The Volvo XC90 is a common mainstay here also – that's the choice to show that, yes, you are still a social democrat. Never mind that stuffed mattress.
    A friend of mine has been on that slope for a while. When at gatherings at his house cars come up, we've mostly been talking about Tesla, Audi, BMW, XC90s – in that order. His first car as a grownup was a beautiful dark green on beige 5 wagon. Piece of crap that needed starting help from my rusty, dingy, but netherless über-trusty 1971 145 once. That incidence broke his yuppiedom and he bought a new Avensis wagon shortly thereafter. I am still proud of that!
    I aspire to have the time and money to live out my lust for square classics again. I want to own a 1971 Volvo 145 Ekspress, an ~'82 GAZ 24 and/or whatever pretty and interesting vehicle I can grab over the course of my life.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Now listen to these lyrics:
      [youtube duQIG2nKEH8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duQIG2nKEH8 youtube]

  17. LEROOOY Avatar

    I'd like to have a '97 Nissan Hardbody, because I'm a communist, I suppose.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      What is this word you today around with, comrade?
      <img src="http://kvh.csla.cz/technika/uaz469/uaz469_0034.jpg&quot; width="600">

  18. neight428 Avatar

    Most people aspire to new BMW's. We aspire to old ones.

  19. Slow_Joe_Crow Avatar

    I don't really worry too much about what others think of my car, although I do hope people think "that's cool" when they see all the bike racing stickers on the roof rack. I aspire to drive something interesting instead of the beigemobile we have now, although I have no need to follow convention. Right now I want something that can comfortably haul a tandem bike, and a better lighter tandem, a couple of dual suspension mountain bikes to get the family off of hardtails and a BMW R1200RT.
    My wife aspires to an electric car because she's more greenie than I am but Teslas are off the table because they are way too big and ostentatious, although she would be an easy sell for a Leaf.
    I work in high tech in the PNW so I see a full spectrum of cars in the parking lot from beaters to electrics to hybrids, bro trucks and sports cars plus the occasional curbside classic. I get the impression Teslas are hot right now, and Smarts are passe' but that's about it.

  20. faberferrum Avatar

    In the near future, I aspire to have my projects in reasonably good driving condition. And considering I already wasted half the workday on the internet, maybe I'll just call it a loss and go cut more rust out of the skoda.

  21. hoonthatprado Avatar

    Why is the LC Prado so popular in Central America? I travelled thru this part of the world a while ago and wondered about it’s popularity as well. I live in Brazil and own an LCP myself, it’s a good vehicle but slow and diesel-guzzling. Is it that popular in Central America because it shows you spent a lot of $$ on it buying new? Just think of it: An X5, Cayenne, GX470/460 or LC200 can be bought used, imported from the U.S., but not so much the LCP…