Monday, February 19, 2007

Style on wheels.

Those who know me best are often subjected treated to my views on automobiles. The way I look at it, my automobiles are, in a sense, an extension of my wardrobe. Given that I suffer from a pathological classicism, sartorially speaking, it oughtn't come as any surprise that I extend that pathology to automobiles.

To me, that means that an automobile must fulfill "the beauty function" perfectly before I consider its other attributes. Said another way, if a car is not beautiful, I don't care how wonderful it may be otherwise. Fast, economical, safe, etc. mean nothing to me if the car isn't attractive. This leaves off my list the overwhelming majority of electromobiles, SUVs, vand/minivans/pickups, hybrids and microcars. In fact, it leaves off most cars; certainly most cars designed in the last decade or so.

It does, however, focus light on certain machines. Generally these are sporting vehicles. Some are American, some Japanese, a goodly number of them German or British...but mostly Italian. Let's be honest. With the carrozzerie system -- the automotive equivalent to Savile Row -- the Italians have cornered the market on automotive elegance. Not that all things Italian are invariably beautiful, but the odds that one of the beautifuls would emerge from Italy are ridiculously high.

Naturally, when the discussion turns to beautiful automobiles from Italy, one's mind races into the gigabuck territory of exotics. Which is both good and bad. Good if you own one of these Italian gems, because you'll see a mighty halo effect. Bad because it puts many of the lesser-informed off of these cars. The fact is that for Camry coin, you could be driving something far more elegant (and more enjoyable). Of course, this means you have to do some research. But do you also go to the nearest tailor and ask for a suit? No, you look into things, you discuss, you amass a body of knowledge and then you proceed.

Same here.

The fact is that regardless of budget, you can have an elegant mode of transport. For example, a 1972-74 Alfa Romeo Spider is 90% of the goodness of the pricy and rarefied "Duetto" at 30% of the price. A fully restored example ma-a-a-a-aybe will set you back US$12K, assuming the restorer was meticulous and the materials (Connolly leather, Wilton carpeting) were the finest available. That your car gets parked up front with the gigabuck exotics (ask me how I know) by the valet guys is a bonus. As is excellent mileage and all the driving fun your system can endure.
There are myriad options beyond Alfa Romeos; such Dinos (a Ferrari/Fiat joint venture with typically Italian twists) and Lancias. If your heart leans in more Teutonic or Anglo-Saxon directions there are MBs, Jaguars, BMWs, Triumphs and Porsches available for your taste and budget.
Do not give up.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I cannot say that I'm one of those guys who spends his time seeking out the consensus of the moment on matters of civilized men's apparel. (Or any thing else for that matter, but stay with me.)

However, this thread was brought to my attention and several things struck me in that "it's funny because it's true" sort of way, even if they aren't exactly, y'know, hilarious or anything.

Still, some ring true and, therefore, I share them with you:

You might be a dandy when... have more shoes than your signifacant [sic] other! favor a particular last at Edward Green have more than one book from either Alan Flusser or G. Bruce Boyer cross potential employers off your list if the interviewer lacks pocket linen can tell the difference between a fused jacket and a canvassed [sic] jacket snicker when people talk about Prada, Gucci, Kenneth Cole as quality clothes [I'd add Armani to this list.]
...the top button on your 3B jackets has never seen more than occasional use have a reasonable expectation that your footwear will outlast your vehicle add in extra time to your business trips in order to do some shopping at fine merchants, even if it means an inconvenient departure or arrival live in fear that your wife might actually discover what your Ebay name is, so she can read your feedback and see the Lobb, Oxxford and Kiton you've been buying while she's clipping coupons
...when an event it "black-tie optional" your only options are satin/grosgrain, peak/shawl, pique/pleated.
...[if] your feedback on eBay is four digits and you've never sold anything.
...your friends say "$80 for a shirt!!!" and you say "$80 for a shirt!" and you both mean the exact opposite by your reaction.
and my favorite practically get misty-eyed thinking about past Ebay auction goldmines where the seller misspelled the label's name as "Paul Stewart" or "Oxford" or "Briani" [too true, that]