Wednesday, 29 August 2012

We don't need another cup holder.

Not the best view of Cumbria.
Question:  What do you do when you have family visiting on Bank Holiday Monday and the rain is blowing horizontally across the windows?  Answer:  You give it your best shot but end up spending most of the day peering through the misted up car windows at the blurry green hills in the distance.  Whilst it was fun, in its way, it made me realise how inadequately equipped for the traditional British Summer most cars are.  In the past I've come up with some ideas for outdoor clothing manufacturers, so now here are my ideas for the boffins who design our cars.

An utterly impractical picnic space.
1.  We require adequate space for a picnic, especially on the driver's side.  I mean c'mon, us Brits have been having picnics in our cars pretty much since the day cars were invented.  And before then we probably ate them in stage coaches while the rain soaked the horses outside.  You know the routine; drive to a suitably picturesque spot and then contort yourself as you try to juggle sandwiches, crisps and a flask of hot(ish) tea in a ridiculously confined space.  Cup holders are utterly inadequate in these situations, what we need is airline style fold down trays in every seat and a detachable multi-function steering wheel which, when flipped, doubles as a serving platter. And no more sloping dashboards, they may look attractive but they are utterly impractical for the serving of sarnies.

2.  A high tech, heads up windscreen display.  This could be plugged into a smart phone so that, when parked in your soggy spot of choice, your position can be determined by GPRS and your windscreen can then download a picture of the view which you ought to be able to see if only there wasn't a monsoon in progress.  Maybe birdsong could be played to drown out the sound of the rain thundering into the roof of the car to make the effect complete.
Lemme out!

3.  A door to roof awning.  The awning could be stored in the roof lining and on wet days a simple switch at the top of the door would attach it, so that when the door swings open it unfolds to provide a small dry area just big enough for you to clamber in and out of your walking boots.  Having seats that can revolve through 90 degrees would also help a lot.  To complete the effect boot brushes could also be stored in the bottom of the doors and flipped down when required to get rid of the worst of the mud.

4.  All car boots MUST be easily accessible from inside the car.  This should be a legal requirement.  Just look at the picture above; with a car full of four people the only room for picnic stuff is in the boot, and that means some mug has to brave the horizontal deluge and stand knee deep in a puddle, which is inevitably in the exact spot you need to stand, in order to get to the goodies.  Madness.

A "perfectly good road" according to my Father-in-Law.
I beg to differ.
5.  All cars should come equipped with 4 sets of cushioned gloves.  These are to be worn whenever you attempt to clamber in, or out, of waterproofs inside the car.  Granted, they'll make the fiddly stuff a little more tricky, but there will be far fewer personal injuries caused by shooting your arm down the sleeve and accidentally concussing your fellow passengers with a deft upper cut to the jaw.  Or perhaps boxing style head projectors would do the job just as well.  Whatever, some additional protection is clearly required.

6.  Never mind parking sensors, we need puddle depth detectors for bumpy tracks to hidden away car parks.  How deep are the puddles in the photograph?  And how am I supposed to find out without grounding out either the exhaust or the door sills?  Following the tracks of a previous car may be of some use, but not if that was a 4x4 and you're in a clapped out Ford Focus.  Some sort of sonar device should do the job nicely.

Maybe some forward thinking manufacturers have already included some of these in their designs, if so, please let me know as we're going to be getting a new (well, second hand) car in the next few months.  I'm also pretty sure there are many other things I've missed, so do feel free to add your suggestions below.  In the meantime I'm off to have my lunch now, sat outside in the sunshine, just to prove it doesn't always rain up here.