Cars have an eerie way of making us people think of alter egos. Is it just me, or do you also wonder just what it is about these machines of transport that lead us to bestow on them certain human personas or qualities. I think Hollywood and the entertainment industry only helped to ignite our imagination and propel it with the personification of automobiles, fictional or real.

Ever since the renowned master of macabre Stephen King wove the blood-curdling tale of ‘Christine’, a sentient and bloodthirsty red-and-white 1958 vintage car with a life of its own, I’ve remained suspicious of any two-door vintage sports cars vaguely resembling the Plymouth Fury. Particularly anything Chrysler-made, in red and white. How apt too for King to have selected this sporty, premium-priced model with the right name to boot. In the eighties ‘Christine’ was one demoniac car that overtook human actors to become a haunting screen legend perhaps more chilling than even Wes Craven’s Freddie Kruger in the gallery of blockbuster Halloween flicks.

In the twenty-first century, the ultimate villainous car (of my personal choice) capable of serious road menace would be a bad boy like the Lamborghini Murcielago. If cars had a life of their own, I can just hear his V-12 engine rumbling a low guttural growl, revving up and poised to race. His steering—teasingly flexing his taut muscles in the form of his 18-inch wheels rotating left to right as if taunting his opponent. His ferocious eyes of intense headlights glare sideways, threatening to blind any return stares.

Do you concede defeat? Maybe not. Maybe some of us prefer our cars to be ‘virtuous’ rather than mean. Maybe our egos aren’t that gigantic. Maybe we don’t have to drive a rocket on wheels that will blow people’s socks off from 100 feet away. Maybe there’re some of us that prefer cars that look like the good guys drive them, cars that could categorically belong to the team of ‘good Autobots’ from the anime-turned-movie franchise ‘Transformers’ rather than their arch nemesis the ‘Decepticons’. Speaking of Autobots, check out Optimus Prime in cartoon cars we wish were real.

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Our love for cars

Hollywood has spun its fair share of car propaganda through movies. Even Australia itself launched to fame not just Mel Gibson but our very own 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon in the movie Mad Max. That was just the eighties. Fast forward literally to Fast and Furious, 2001. Need I say more? Rest in peace, Paul Walker a.k.a. Brian. Forever in loving memory of him shall be the ’94 Toyota Supra. In 2005, ‘The Transporter’ has every bloke on the planet wanting to upgrade his BMW 7 Series to the Audi A8 so they could pretend to kick some ass like the strapping poker-faced agent Jason Statham. Tom Cruise helped Lexus show off their Lexus 2054 Concept car in 2002 in the blockbuster sci-fi flick, Minority Report.

My favourite car movie of all time, has got to be ‘Ronin’. Yes that would be the Robert De Niro one with the world’s most mind-boggling high-speed car chase orgies of all time in movie history. Which of us don’t relish the treat of gripping our seats to see KGB versus CIA agents firing out tyres only to send super engines soaring across highway overpasses in exotic Paris? Let’s not forget the star-studded cast. Sure there’re some fine actors in the movie but I was referring to the true stars: sports sedans like BMW M5, Peugeot 406 and not forgetting one of the sportiest saloons around at the time, the Audi S8. Throw in the chaotic mix of exploding infernos made up of police vehicles, trucks and fancy motorbikes all meeting their mangled end and you have an unrivaled exhilarating thriller in testosterone overdrive.

It’s not just the men who are fed with car propaganda on big screens. What once appeared shameless is now widely accepted by audiences as another regular product placement from smart phones to energy drinks. In 2003, for instance, after ‘The Italian Job’, I don’t know a woman who wasn’t tempted to place her order for ‘one of them mini coopers’ that transported millions worth of gold bars in that clever heist. We all wished we had legs like Charlize Theron who played such a sassy part in that movie. I used to see the Mini as rather sad and comic-looking until Charlize made me notice how cute and snout its nose is, like a bulldog I could snuggle with and house in my garage.

Come to think of it, we do tend to imagine our cars are a bit like our pets. Tintin had his doggie Snowy, and similarly, in ‘Transformers’ the geeky hero Sam Witwicky (played by Shia LaBeouf) had his Bumblebee, which as you know was an Autobot in the ingenious disguise of a yellow Chevrolet Camaro, a compact racing coupe. Well I’ve never owned or driven a Camaro, but I do still name each one of my wheels.

Hey don’t pretend you don’t sometimes pep talk yourself in the mirror before that interview, are a closet snow globe collector or a metro-sexual man who secretly bakes Donna Hay cookies to de-stress. We all have our idiosyncrasies and mine just happens to be pretending my car is a faithful horse that’s taken me anywhere from campus in my adolescence to my first job interview and now to the supermarket with my preschooler safely tucked in his back saddle. If our previous cars could talk, they’ll spill everything about us. People do sob into their arms against the steering wheel just moments before driving home, like when you forgot to ask the dealer for free petrol.

It’s difficult to imagine life without our cars today, and more so when we attach life to them. We use terms like ‘slender, tall, curvy, pudgy, athletic, sporty’ when we discuss car bodies. A recreational vehicle’s outdoorsy looks seem to embody Roger Federer or Tiger Woods. ‘Sophisticated, timeless elegance’ makes me fantasise driving a classic Aston Martin like paying homage to screen legend Audrey Hepburn. Mine, someday, would come customised in the signature Tiffany duck egg blue, just so I can drive it to breakfast outside Tiffany’s at Queens Plaza and it’d still manage to look quite discreet with its surroundings.

Back to real life, eight months ago we traded in Ralph, our trusty Japanese SUV for another continental SUV, albeit ‘he’ was now very much like a European mail order toy boy. I honest-to-God felt as if I were cheating on my old car. I know. My husband went dizzy from the amount of eye rolling he had to do as I took my time to farewell my faithful silver-clad old boy. I think I nearly asked the car dealer to put a tarpaulin blanket over Ralph as he was going to be left there overnight in the cold and hard concrete car park until a new and hopefully kind-hearted used car buyer came to adopt him in the morning.

We drove our new car wordlessly home. It took me a while to treat ‘European toy boy’ like family again, and in the end I chose to call him Ralphie so I could pretend that he had some kind of massive plastic surgery and supermodel makeover in order to alleviate my guilt from ditching my previous love.

Today Ralphie is a joy to drive, he is a smooth operator that works with me seamlessly as I load him up into a bend and curve across to the next one without such as a single roll or hobble. His steering is lovely and his gears are smart and progressive without the chance of him ever tramlining on me.

I’ve learnt that while alter egos evolve and looks could change and be deceiving, the very things we love about our cars shall always remain true, like its reliability.

No matter which car, truck, motorbike, boat or caravan you pick to match your personality today, allow our consultants at 360 Finance to help you with choosing the best cost-saving car loan options.