Thursday, May 24, 2012

What America is Missing.

This past summer I did a post graduation backpacking trip through Europe with my best friend. I only had a few desired destinations that we had to visit while we were over there: The Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, The Porsche Museum also in Stuttgart, Germany, the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany and the Neuschwanstein Castle. The last spot really has no point in this blog, but I suggest you go. It is breathtakingly amazing. Back to the point, yes my trip to these Museums was amazing. It was a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by hundreds of visitors who were just as enthralled as I was to read every single placard and soak up the history of an industry that has shaped the modern world. I helped my travel companion, Katie, go from knowing nothing more than that she drove a red car to knowing the firing sequence of a Porsche 911 and that most of the major European manufactures did not build these automotive legends from the start, but instead had a much humbler beginning such as Lamborghini building tractors. Back to my original thought, these museums were amazing. The history of these great brands was literally on every corner.

But you know what else was on every corner in Europe?
Small Cars, Wagons, and diesel engines.

These three features are not completely barren from the North American automotive landscape, but they are pretty scarce compared to the rest of the world. I would like to discuss the item that Is the most important to me. The Wagon.

The amount of wagons, what they call estate cars across the pond, is mind blowing. When the majority of Americans think of a wagon they think of the 1967 Ford Country Squire, or in other words something that you pile your family in and has as much sex appeal as a dump truck. Yes we have a few choices of wagons to consider, the A4 and A6 Avant are two of my favorites. But we do not have the option of a RS4 Avant with its  meticulously crafted 4.2-liter V8 putting out 450 horsepower at a stratospheric 8,250 RPM and 317 pound-feet of torque.

These are the same sedans we all know and love but with an extended roof line to allow the family to come along for the ride with a high four-second drive to 60mph and a top speed of 174 mph. This car was created to tackle the autobahn at 150mph with an additional 3 kids and the dog in the back on the way to Grandmas for holiday.
I just don't understand how the average American does not find this appeasing. Take a look at the video above. This is not just the family hauler that this car has been thought of in the past. This is RS4 Avant is part family hauler/track day destroyer.

Sorry I was unable to embed this video but watch as this 2008 RS6 Avant drifts around the Nurburgring in Germany Link to Video

I am assuming that these estates are popular in Europe because they do not have the luxury of multi car garages. As americans we have our SUV on one side of the garage and then we have the 4 door saloon car on the other side. What the Europeans did was simply combine the utilitarianism of the SUV and the atheistic of the saloon to get the wagon. 

To end this part of my discussion, I just want people to 
look beyond the image of the old family hauling station wagon and instead see that the rest of the world has found a way to make these wagons not only aesthetically pleasing but also a serve a multitude of purposes. 

Just in case you really wanted to go and find a photo of 
Neuschwanstein Castle, I provided one of my own for you. 

Research for this article came from: