“We’re changing the oil!?”

I do not have cable television.

As such, I’m usually spared the horror that is prime time advertising.  But every once in a while, I happen to catch a snippet while at a friend’s house or at the pub or whatever.  Today’s rant is brought to you by our colleagues at Volkswagen.  I recently caught their latest ad for their “no-charge maintenance” feature or whatever it is, and was astounded by the fact that they actually celebrated man’s ignorance of all things automotive.  See the ad below.

This got me thinking about vehicle repair today, and how it’s changed over the years.  In the first days of the automobile, you HAD to maintain it yourself.  There were no mechanics shops on the corner. And interestingly, a full engine rebuild used to be considered general maintenance!  In the teens and twenties of the US, moonshine bootleggers would hop up their cars so they could better run from police.  The 50s was the hot rod revolution, where every small town in America had races on the weekend.  And the cars were built in the garage by a teenager and his dad.  60s – Muscle cars.  No explanation needed.  Drag racing, monster trucks, NASCAR; all of these sports began in back yards and garages and home towns.

Today, people say that the days of turning your own wrenches are gone.  They say that everything is done with computers now, and that we all need computer science degrees to work on anything.  I don’t think I agree with that.  The automotive aftermarket is a HUGE industry that, according to “The New York Times” approached $30 billion (with a “B”) in 2011, and that was after a slow recovery from 2008 and 2009.

If anything, this tells me that we are turning wrenches harder and more frequently than ever before.  There are TV shows popping up all the time.  Hell, Discovery even has a whole channel dedicated to cars and bikes now.  Custom car and bike shops seem to open on every corner.   If we weren’t interested in cars and bikes and trucks, then why is all of this so widespread?

My point is this: where is this commercial coming from?  Who is this man, out in his garage, under his car, unaware that he’s changing his own oil?  What man is interested in a “maintenance program” that makes sure he never gets dirt under his fingernails?  I’ve never met him.  Who was VW marketing this ad to?

Anyway, that dude will never come to this site.  Good thing too.  I’d flick him in his throat.

Keep the wrenches greasy and your knuckles busted.

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