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Old 22nd July 2009, 09:22   #1
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Default Cars with character

In companies, whenever sales people go around asking for approvals for strategic pricing, one learns in time that what they really mean is that they are going to lose money pursuing that particular customer, but do not want to put it quite that way. Nine times out of ten.
I keep reading remarks here that - this car has a lot of character. I can't help thinking on the same lines about this comment, that it means that it will end up being a character building experience for the user, as in for example, teaching him or her the virtues of patience.
I may be wrong here, so can members see if they can articulate a little more in depth/specifics exactly what they mean when they say that a car has a lot of character? I can understand that comment in the case of a car like a bespoke hand built Morgan, but the comments I keep hearing are about mass produced modern automobiles, hence my query.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 11:12   #2
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It means they need not spend money modding it to make it look beautiful or ugly.

Xenon is a case in point
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Old 22nd July 2009, 11:21   #3
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I think a car-with-character is one which distinguishes itself in more than one ways from the regular cars - be it unique styling, unique features or unique driving experience (gears/mechanicals etc).

And most of all, the owner of such a car has an overwhelming sense of pride in owning/driving the car.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 11:30   #4
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If you consider the opposite scenario, that is, lack of any strong charectar, this is how it may look:
Products are very utilatarian and go about their job without any fuss. There is not much thought given to the emotional aspects. They tend to be mainstream and homogeneuos to the extent that if you remove the logos, you can't easily tell which car/brand it is. They follow conventions and do not risk being radically different in any aspects. In essence, they dont try to stand out in the crowd but follow the well set/proven formula for success.
For a product to have strong charectar, it has to do everything (or few things at least) opposite.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 11:35   #5
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It's very difficult to define what one means by car having a lot of character. It is highly subjective as well.

So how do I define a car with character?
It need not be the best performing machine. It need not be the pinnacle of luxury. No need set benchmarks either. It's the package as a whole that puts a big smile on your face whether you are inside the car driving or outside just looking at it. I'm sure, Fiat lovers will tell you the same about their GTXs.

I remember seeing an episode of Top Gear UK where James May was driving an Alpha and he was supposed to put a Pound in a box everytime he used words like 'heart' and 'soul' to describe that car. He ended up exhausting all coins he had.

Although used in different context, remember this quote from Pulp Fiction?
Quote:
You are a character doesn't mean you have character.
To me, every car is character. But not all cars have a character. There are Hondas, Suzukis and Toyotas (No offense meant). No doubt, they are great cars. But, you know, they lack something. Maybe the passion, the zeal to build cars. You can say they are mass produced and perfect. On the other hand you have cars like Mini Cooper, Fiat 500. They may not be the best cars ever made. And yes, they too are mass produced but they are different. Different from every other car on the block. And have a lot of character.

YMMV
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Old 22nd July 2009, 11:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neotraveller View Post
I think a car-with-character is one which distinguishes itself in more than one ways from the regular cars - be it unique styling, unique features or unique driving experience (gears/mechanicals etc).

And most of all, the owner of such a car has an overwhelming sense of pride in owning/driving the car.
Does this then mean that if such a car become popular, and lot of such cars on the road by definition lessen the uniqueness of it, the character of the car goes away? As does too the sense of owning something unique?
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:07   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawyer View Post
Does this then mean that if such a car become popular, and lot of such cars on the road by definition lessen the uniqueness of it, the character of the car goes away? As does too the sense of owning something unique?
I don't think character in a car has anything to do with rarity.

To me its simply the distinct feel it leaves me with whenever I drive it. A feel that is distinctly particular to that model.

When a car is endowed with a range of attributes that stand out then its strength of character goes up dramatically. So if the way it looks, sounds, smells and feels on the road is all distinct then you have something of very strong character.

Now look at it this way. Our Ambassador does not figure much as a car to write home about. And yet that car has a distinct character. No other car rides or feels quite like it. The same about the old Fiats, the old Heralds. Infact as you go back into time cars were more distinct and unique in their blend of attributes.

I suppose one can say the opposite of character is a more sanitised version which does everything okay but doesn't leave you with a distinct feel about it.

Ultimately strong character is not about being able to judge a car as good or bad. Its just its particular distinct persona. Nothing else.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:16   #8
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Well, I would say that any car that ages well is a car with character to me. E.g: I frequently do a double take when a well maintained Contessa or Premier Padmini passes on the road, but I don't do that with a well maintained Maruti 800 [I guess this description is too ambiguous, but that's the best I could do].

However, I personally feel that a lot of folks go overboard with respect to their steeds [either a bike or car] by describing them as having soul and character and what not. Agree that we own it, mod it and get attached to it over it's lifetime, but we need to have a sense of perspective and realise that at the end of the day, it's just a machine!

I know this will sound like blasphemy to most people here, but please keep cool guys, it's just my opinion! :-)

Cheers,
Vikram
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:36   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post


When a car is endowed with a range of attributes that stand out then its strength of character goes up dramatically. So if the way it looks, sounds, smells and feels on the road is all distinct then you have something of very strong character.



I suppose one can say the opposite of character is a more sanitised version which does everything okay but doesn't leave you with a distinct feel about it.
Interesting responses, and please take my questions in the right spirit of drilling down into the subject.

Does the car remain distinct when you see a lot of other people driving it as well? Does it still stand out?
Do these statements themselves not then imply that popular cars cannot remain distinct? And by that, lose the character that distinctness conferred on them?
Also, in the last sentence quoted, are you saying that a car that does everything okay does not have character? And on then to implying that a car with character does not do everything okay?
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:42   #10
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We have a whole section dedicated to these vehicles here. check this -> 4x4 & Off-Roading - Team-BHP

We dont call them cars though
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:49   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawyer View Post
Does the car remain distinct when you see a lot of other people driving it as well? Does it still stand out?
Sawyer to me a car's character has nothing to do with how many of them flood the market. There were millions of VW Beetles. Did the car have any character? You bet it did.

Quote:
Do these statements themselves not then imply that popular cars cannot remain distinct? And by that, lose the character that distinctness conferred on them?
Perhaps you are mixing distinctness with rarity or exclusivity? The latter having nothing to do with character in my personal opinion.

Quote:
Also, in the last sentence quoted, are you saying that a car that does everything okay does not have character? And on then to implying that a car with character does not do everything okay?
You have a car that accelerates well, rides comfortably and gets you efficiently from point A to B. Does that necessarily entail a strong character? Not necessarily.

You then have a car with a mindblowing engine but horrid handling. Does that car have character? Possibly yes.

So what I meant is when a car does everything ok but not in a distinct manner it fails to convey a strong sense of character.

And yet you may have a car that does not do everything well but is distinct in a few attributes, endowing it with a distinct caharacter.

Further you may have a car with a strong character/distinctness which is also a fine performer.

Once again a car's character should not be confused with how good or bad it is with respect to its attributes often measured in terms of handling, performance etc
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:52   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikhilbelsare View Post
I'm sure, Fiat lovers will tell you the same about their GTXs.



There are Hondas, Suzukis and Toyotas (No offense meant). No doubt, they are great cars. But, you know, they lack something. Maybe the passion, the zeal to build cars. You can say they are mass produced and perfect. On the other hand you have cars like Mini Cooper, Fiat 500. They may not be the best cars ever made. And yes, they too are mass produced but they are different. Different from every other car on the block. And have a lot of character.
Nice articulation, and as someone who sold his GTX after eight interesting years, I know what you are referring to.
To the second paragraph - one category, mass produced and perfect. Other category, mass produced and different. Your words, not mine! Different as in? Not enough to say as in having lots of character in a thread where we are trying to define that very word!
And it is always nice to meet a Tarantino fan

By the way, I also agree with Vikram - lets keep things in perspective, they are all just cars. Projecting our egos on to them is the reason for all the flames and the wars on this forum as in many others, but if you can remain detached, it can be very entertaining
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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:00   #13
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Tata Sierra, now what? Run your memory on this car, and what you feel is what is its character.
For me this the car that takes the rough with the smooth. And when I saw this thread this is the only car that come to mind.

Guess each one of us will have some or the other car, that would stand out, but I have a feeling the newer cars will not figure much in it. As all manufactures nowadays want to play safe and make something mass-acceptable.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:04   #14
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Take the case of Aston Martin and James Bond.When it was introduced in 1963 in Goldfinger and to this day its a charecter in that car that has bonded so well.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:07   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
Sawyer to me a car's character has nothing to do with how many of them flood the market. There were millions of VW Beetles. Did the car have any character? You bet it did.




You have a car that accelerates well, rides comfortably and gets you efficiently from point A to B. Does that necessarily entail a strong character? Not necessarily.

You then have a car with a mindblowing engine but horrid handling. Does that car have character? Possibly yes.

So what I meant is when a car does everything ok but not in a distinct manner it fails to convey a strong sense of character.

And yet you may have a car that does not do everything well but is distinct in a few attributes, endowing it with a distinct caharacter.

Further you may have a car with a strong character/distinctness which is also a fine performer.

Once again a car's character should not be confused with how good or bad it is with respect to its attributes often measured in terms of handling, performance etc
Interesting explanations - and I agree that the Beetle was a car that was both popular and had a lot of character. Was it just the distinct looks? That it looked like no other car?
Second para above - what more would that car need to have, in order for it to have character as well? Be distinct yes, but in what way?
Third para above - what would the horrid handler with the mindblowing engine need to have to convert the possibly into a yes?
I am trying to ensure that we do not define character by just exchanging words, and saying distinct instead.
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