Station Life: Why I’m driven to frustration by ‘small-car syndrome’

Raelene HallMidwest Times
A quad road-train thundering down a highway.
Camera IconA quad road-train thundering down a highway. Credit: David Meredith/The West Australian, David Meredith

I’m not a revhead.

The smell of fuel and burning rubber combined with cars tearing around a race track isn’t for me.

On the other hand, the sound of a road train thundering along the highway or rumbling to a stop at traffic lights always catches my attention, as does a V8 engine in a vehicle like the ute my husband had when we married.

His uncle referred to it as the “burble car” and I wasn’t adverse to getting behind the wheel. It made me feel like queen of the road.

So when walking along a suburban street, I heard that unmistakeable sound of an exhaust system designed to be noticed and I began looking for the source of it.

I knew it wasn’t a decent-sized truck — the sound wasn’t quite right for that, but it should have been something like a ute or four-wheel drive.

Instead a little city car zoomed past. What the hell. It was just wrong. It didn’t fit. It was like the small-man syndrome, only this was small-car syndrome.

It was a baby car trying to be one of the grown-ups. It was laughable.

I guess this is a result of growing up in the country where small cars rarely exist.

Sure, I had one — a two-door Ford Escort, known locally as the “two-door saloon”!

It was a small car that knew it was a small car. I knew it was a small car and that it had no right masquerading as one of the “big cars”. It would seem there are car owners in the city who, despite the size of their car, still want to be the cool ones whose car will awaken the dead, scare old ladies crossing the street and make a truck driver take a second look before he falls out of his cab laughing.

These city drivers probably chuckle as they pull up at the lights and accelerate away with a thundering roar, smugly leaving family cars in their wake.

The chuckles probably fade a little as that road train, so slow to take off at the lights, suddenly thunders up behind and past them, drowning out their stereo and exhaust system.

Imitation may be a form of flattery but it never beats the real deal.

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