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Given that the car was more or less invented in Germany, and given that German is a language in which you can create compound words with subtle and complex meanings, it’s not surprising that there’s a German word that all true drivers can relate to, even if we’ve never come across the word before or if we don’t speak German. This word is “fahrvernügen”, which means something like “the pleasure of driving” or “the joy of travelling”. 

OK, to be fair, the word isn’t a traditional one, and it was probably coined in the 1990s as part of a Volkswagen ad campaign that ran in the US. However, that was around 30 years ago (feeling old now?) and just because a word was made up for advertising purposes doesn’t mean that it’s not legitimately part of the vocabulary, especially when it’s a useful term that describes an everyday activity or need.  By way of comparison, fahrvergnügen is older than the English verb “to google” and nobody will challenge the idea that “google” is a legitimate verb. As far as I can work out, fahrvergnügen is an official German word.

And no wonder it’s become official, no matter how it entered the language.  I’m kind of surprised that it wasn’t around before the 1990s, as it’s certainly a thing that most of us can relate to, no matter what language we speak.  For some people, it’s the thrill of pushing down the throttle and feeling the acceleration and the blur of speed. For some, it’s the sideways G-forces as you put something with exquisite handling around a particularly curvy piece of road. For others, it’s the feeling of being in control. For others, it’s the combination of the car’s sound and personality. And for others, it’s just the satisfaction and pleasure of getting out of one’s usual surroundings and going somewhere else.

German has a few other words with no English equivalent that have their uses in the world of cars, driving and automotive topics that most drivers can relate to. Here’s a selection:

  • Fernweh – a longing for far-off places
  • Kabelsalat (literally “cable salad”) or a mess of cables, which is what you’ll be greeted with when trying to check the fuses or to install a new speaker in any modern car.
  • Schilderwald (literally: “shield forest”): a street so full of signs that it’s more likely to make you lost and confused than otherwise.
  • Schlimmbesserung: A tweak or update that was supposed to improve things but actually makes things worse.  The related verb is “Verschlimmbessern”. I think we can all think of examples, but I’m not stupid enough to name them, even for the sake of schadenfreude (the pleasure of seeing other’s misfortune).
  • Autobahn: I think we don’t have this one because we don’t have autobahns; we just have motorways that have set speed limits.

Just for the fun of it, other languages also have some words with no English equivalent that most drivers can relate to, like the following:

  • Akihi (Hawaiian): to get instructions or directions, then forget them completely when you try to apply them.
  • Gilchi (Korean): Someone who has a terrible sense of direction and gets lost all too easily.
  • Resfeber (Swedish): that feeling of nerves, excitement and anticipation before a journey begins.

And what about that other German phrase we see frequently in the automotive world, namely Audi’s slogan of “Vorsprung durch Technik”? Well, this means something like “advancement/progress through technology” or “the technical edge” or “technological advantage”. In fact, Audi tried to get this phrase trademarked, but this led to a long and complicated court case – which is a good story for another time, to quote the Star Wars sequels.

Anyway, even if you never came across the original fahrvergnügen ad campaign, I’m sure that you’ve experienced the concept all the same. Tell us in the comments what makes up fahrvergnügen for you.

The Fastest Wedge Of Orange In The Galaxy: The Bond Bug

Image by Mick from England – Bond Bug 3 Wheeler, CC BY 2.0,

It’s groovy.  It’s bright orange.  It’s a small car that aimed to capture the younger section of the automotive market that came out during a fuel crisis.  It’s the Bond Bug.  What’s more, it’s decidedly weird.

The Bond Bug isn’t like any other car found on the roads, and I very much doubt if you’ll see one on the roads of Australia, as only a few thousand were produced during its production run, which lasted from 1970 to 1974 (yes, this car is older than I am).  Although the engine is fairly standard – a nice little 700 cc water-cooled inline four engine – it’s the styling that really turned heads and is still turning them.  It wasn’t just the fact that the car had three wheels (which one motoring enthusiast described was either one wheel too many or one wheel too few). It also had a futuristic wedge shaped shape with a very space-age lift-up hood as well as two doors and pop-up lights. You could call it a two-door hatchfront instead of a hatchback. It seated two people on its black seats (bright orange and black – you could hardly get something more seventies than that!). It did have a boot that was able to get a small amount of luggage, such as a guitar, but that was about it.  The bodywork was made from fibreglass, meaning that the vehicle was light, allowing for better fuel economy (but probably not safety!).

The looks were the brainchild of Tom Karen, a designer for the Ogle company who, among other things, designed the Raleigh Chopper bicycle, a very cool-looking bike that I vaguely remember the cool kids having when I was at primary school (if they didn’t have BMX bikes, that is). The Raleigh Chopper made a brief comeback this year, possibly to commemorate the death of Tom Karen in January 2023.

The Bond Bug was produced by Reliant. Reliant also produced another three-wheeled car, namely the Robin, which is best known as the three-wheeled car that shows up in the Mr Bean skits as the adversary of Mr Bean’s trusty little Mini. This (meaning the Robin, not the Mini) was also designed by Tom Karen.

In terms of performance, the Bond Bug wasn’t quite a supercar, shall we say? The 700ES variant boasted 23 kW of power when the curve peaked at 5000 rpm, and had 52 Nm of torque at the same number of revs. If you think that it could barely overtake a fairly speedy snail or a leisurely cyclist, the Bond Bug was capable of a top speed of 121 km/h and did the 0–100 km/h sprint (?) in 19.7 seconds. Needless to say, it had a rear wheel drive. The handling also left something to be desired.

If you think that the Bond Bug looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, you are absolutely right. In fact, Tom Karen worked with none other than George Lucas and used the chassis from a Bond Bug to create the Landspeeder that Luke Skywalker drives in the early scenes of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (the anti-grav effect is done with mirrors).

How To Really Annoy Other Drivers: The 10 Worst Driving Habits

OK, everybody, gather round. Mama’s going to teach you how to be a terrible driver*. You know the one: that driver, the one who everybody hates and who nobody wants to ride with. In fact, I’m going to tell you about all the bad habits that you simply must acquire if you want to lose friends and irritate people.

*For the sake of any non-human robots reading this, this article is an example of the ancient art of sarcasm and irony.

Of course, there are plenty of bad habits when it comes to driving, but these are some of the most annoying. They aren’t stupidly dangerous, like running red lights or driving on the wrong side of the road, but they are still somewhat dangerous all the same.

#1: Incorrect Indicators

Those amber lights on the side of your car front and back are designed to let your fellow drivers know if you are about to change lane or turn a corner. But other people should be able to read your mind, right? After all, you should be able to go where you want to when you want to, and why should you be bothered taking time to use those indicators, even though the lever for applying them is right by your hand (assuming you’ve got both hands on your steering wheel, that is). Failure to use them will really make the blood of other drivers boil quite satisfactorily.

However, this isn’t the only way to annoy your fellow drivers with your poor indicator habits. A safer way to mis-indicate is to turn on your indicators far too early and keep everybody guessing as to whether you’re turning the corner or turning into a driveway. At least the people behind you will slow down so they don’t bang into your rear end, and you can hold them up for ages and then (extra bonus points) accuse them of Annoying Driving Habit #2.

#2: Tailgating

Yes, you’ve heard of the two second rule, but that’s for wimps, right? After all, that person in front of you has had his or her indicators on for the last minute, so you can hardly be blamed for driving a scant metre from their rear bumper. Besides, why did they put bumper stickers on the rear of their car if they didn’t expect you to read them? Never mind that you’re driving so close that the driver in front of you doesn’t dare to slow down one iota to avoid you rear-ending them. That’s a way of ensuring that everybody keeps up to the right speed, right?

Even if you’re a little further away and are able to stop in time if the driver in front of you does finally decide to turn into a driveway or if they have to stop for something insignificant, like a dog running into the road, you can still annoy and intimidate them. After all, you’re only sticking close to them waiting for a chance to overtake, and they’re guilty of Annoying Driving Habit #3.

#3: Channelling Your Inner Gandalf

Every time someone comes up close behind you, you need to get your battered grey hat and wizard’s staff on and shout “You shall not pass!” However, if you’re unable to make the road crack at their feet, sending them plunging like a balrog into the chasm beneath the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, there’s a simpler way to stop the people behind you from overtaking and annoy them at the same time. If you’re really lucky, they may let out a suitable enraged roar.

All you need to do is to keep your speed really slow during all the bits of road that are windy, filled with oncoming traffic or painted with pretty yellow lines down the middle. Once these useful areas have shifted to open, empty straight roads with passing lanes, speed up to the full speed limit so that the driver in the car either doesn’t pass you or is forced to break the speed limit to get past you. Bonus points if you can bait them into doing so going past a speed trap or when there’s a cop hiding behind a bush.

This surefire way to annoy all your fellow drivers is best combined with Annoying Driving Habits #4 and #5.

#4: Not Pulling Over

OK, so there’s a queue of traffic piling up behind you like you’re leading them to freedom. At long last, you’ve come to part of the road with a wide shoulder, or possibly even a slow vehicle bay. To get the satisfaction of completely ticking off every single one of those drivers and their passengers, don’t pull over. Just keep on driving and staying in your lane.

#5: Living In The Fast Lane

Finally, to ensure that your fellow drivers start shouting dubious things about your ancestry and your love life, get into the fast lane or the passing lane (in Australia, that’s the one on the right that doesn’t have the oncoming traffic). And stay there. Don’t go at speeds that get used when overtaking. Don’t even go at the open road speed. Go just below it.

After all, you can’t let anybody pass you, as they may be guilty of Annoying Driving Habit #6.

#6: Scantily Clad Loads

If you have a ute or if you’re towing a trailer, it makes sense to tie down anything large like tables and chairs. You don’t want the inconvenience of losing that. However, if you’re taking a load of garbage to the dump or if you have a lot of things in the back that you don’t mind losing, such as leaves, grass clippings or stones. So to ensure that you enrage your fellow drivers, don’t bother covering this load. Leave it naked, even. That way, some will blow back as you drive, right into the windscreen of whoever’s behind you (see Annoying Driving Habit #2). If your load involved stones or gravel, then you may be lucky enough to chip their windscreen. Extra bonus points if the person behind you is getting about on a motorbike or bicycle– those peasants who don’t have as many wheels as you deserve a load of old barbecue ash in the face, right?

If you don’t have a trailer or a ute, you can get a similar effect by applying Annoying Driving Habit #7.

#7: Litterbugs

Your car is your castle, and you don’t want to clutter up your precious car with old coffee cups, uneaten fast food meals and packages, etc. You could merely keep these in a bag and dispose of them at the end of your journey, but why squander the opportunity to irritate not just other drivers but pedestrians, home owners, town councils and environmentalists? Out the window with it!

Throwing an apple core or peach pit out into the grass in the middle of the countryside is for amateurs. If you do this when nobody is in sight, this won’t annoy anybody. However, for maximum effect, dispose of plastic, paper or glass that you can’t be bothered with any longer, and do it in a built-up area.

However, a still-burning cigarette butt (here, I’m assuming that the way you drive isn’t your only bad habit) might be a bit too far. After all, you could hit a cyclist in the face with hot ash or, during drought season, start a fire. And the person behind you might be indulging in Annoying Driving Habit #8, meaning that they’ll be able to squeal to the authorities and get you into hot water.

#8: Staying Glued To Your Phone

You spend a lot of time in your car and you’ve got a busy life, so of course you NEED to stay on your phone. There are calls to take, and you’re pretty sure that you saw a text message or Snapchat or maybe it was a notification on Messenger from your boss or maybe it was your boyfriend or possibly it was your mother, but you’d better check, and then even if it came from the person in the group chat from the book club commenting on the latest bit of chick lit you’re working through at the moment, well you have to read it then and there because it would be rude to ghost them and just leave them with a Seen message without even a like or an emoji, right**? You have to consider the people in your life who are there only virtually ahead of the drivers around you! Besides, if checking your phone leads you to miss a light changing, make manoeuvres at the last minute (see Annoying Driving Habit #1) or swerve in front of people, you’ll annoy them to perfection.

Moreover, if you want to indulge in Annoying Driving Habit #9, you have to curate the right Spotify list.

#9: Wannabe DJs

You might not have the world’s most expensive car but you certainly have a very good sound system with very powerful speakers. If you’ve gone to all that effort, you have to flaunt it, right? Wind that speaker up, put your windows down and let that music play! Now, doing this with middle of the road music might only mildly annoy people. But to really grind people’s gears, select something that is loved by only a select few, preferably with dodgy lyrics of the sort that would have seen your grandfather getting his mouth washed out with soap by great-grandma.

If you’re a fan of this particular habit, then you probably regret the fact that Elon Musk chickened out on having some varieties of Tesla making fart noises when travelling at slow speeds. You’d have had a lot of fun with that – think of how many people you could tick off with an EV with a loud stereo and farting noises, especially if you drove past where they’re coming out of a funeral or something along those lines. However, that would probably mean that you’d drain your battery fairly quickly and have to drag yourself to the nearest supermarket with a charging station (see Annoying Driving Habits #4 and #5) and hope that someone else hasn’t decided to try in Annoying Driving Habit #10.

#10: Entitled Parking

It’s raining, so you want to park close to the doors of the mall or the supermarket or K-Mart or your other retail destination of choice. Otherwise, you might have to WALK (Gasp! The horror!). So park wherever you like. You’ll have the satisfaction of getting people’s goat and getting their knickers in a twist if you park your car somewhere clearly designated for something special (who do they think they are, right?). Put your 4×4 in the disabled parking spot or in the mothers with babies parks (your 4×4 will probably blend in with the others in the parents-only carparks anyway as long as nobody sees that you don’t have baby seats cluttering up your back seat). Or to become everybody’s least favourite person, park your 5-litre petrol or diesel in the EV charging spaces.

Now, have I missed any?  Who wants to suggest a few more annoying habits guaranteed to irritate?

**100 words in one sentence – I think that’s my personal best. Tell me, are you not annoyed?

Christmas Tree Pick-Up

Bringing the Christmas Tree Home

Christmas is sneaking up on us with just 20 days to go!  It got me thinking about the Christmas tree.  My son has struggled to find any decent wild pine in his area or any pine that he can pinch a branch off for his Christmas tree this year.  Instead, his go to for this year has been a glitzy artificial $12 tree from Kmart, not that great for the environment.  Yes, it looks pretty cool, flashes and changes colour, showing off the star on top nicely, but there is fun lost in this plastic answer to what is a quintessential feature of Christmas.  There is, however, fun to be had making the effort to go out and choose a real tree.  Yes, that tangible, fragrance, with real leaves, real bark, and real spiders.  This is the classic scent of Christmas that matches the delicious ham and turkey, custard and Christmas pudding, way better than any fake alternative.

All around the more populated areas of Australia there are numerous places that sell gorgeous live Christmas trees.  From Tomalong Christmas Tree Farm, in New South Wales; to Chrissy Trees 4 You, in Queensland; to Adelaide Hills Christmas Trees, in South Australia; to Sunbury Christmas Tree Farm, in Victoria; to Santa’s Shaped Christmas Tree, in ACT; to Christmas Trees of Wanneroo, in Western Australia; or to Richmond Christmas Tree Farm, in Tasmania – these are just some of the places you can visit for bringing that perfect look and smell of Christmas back home for Christmas.  Now is the time to head out and find that tree to decorate.  Most places will offer a delivery service, but you can also do a pick-up of your own.  Picking the tree up yourself is the most entertaining way of getting the tree and taking the kids/family/friends with you makes for an enjoyable and often humorous excursion.

This leads me to answering the question: how does one best bring a Christmas tree home?  I mean they can be up to 12 ft tall, fat, and even a bit cumbersome.  If you do have a trailer or a ute, then these vehicles are the best for an easy diy for Christmas tree collection.  Take a rope or a tie down to make sure the tree is properly secured for the homeward journey.

But what about if you don’t have trailer, a ute, or even a truck or van?  Well, the next best thing is to secure the tree to the roof of your car.  If your car comes equipped with the roof rack, then you’re good to go.  If you don’t have a roof rack, then you can pop a soft sheet over the roof of your car and position the tree on top before tying it down using tie downs.  The tie downs can be anchored by lowering the windows enough for you to fasten the ends of the tie down to the grab handles inside the car or even on the lip protruding from the top of the door – if there is one.  Just make sure that you are legal and that the tree doesn’t have too much of an overhang past the ends of our vehicle.

The other thing to keep in mind is that your field of vision can’t be blocked.  Placing the tree trunk end at the front end of the car and the top of the tree pointing rearwards ensures that, as you travel back home, the wind drags neatly over the tree without whipping against the branches, potentially damaging the tree and the perfect look.

Most everyday hatchbacks, sedans, and wagons are good for carrying up to 75 kg on the roof.  Others can carry more.  SUVs, vans, and dual cab utes can usually handle 100 kg.  However, do check your manufacturers recommendations before trying to put a heavyweight monster on your little Toyota Yaris.  You can shrink the tree by lopping a bit of the bottom off the tree without losing out too much on the perfect shape.

Another way you can transport your freshly cut Christmas tree back to the house is inside the cabin of your car.  If you’re not too prissy about the interior of your sedan or small hatch getting bits in it, and not too dismayed with a 6 ft tree rather than a 12 ft one, then sliding the tree through the front passenger door, over the lowered backrest, and through onto the rear seat is possible.  Of course, a station wagon or hatchback can swallow a tree through the boot space and over the lowered rear seats.  If it’s a sedan, then the top of the tree may need to poke out through the lowered front passenger window, particularly if it’s tall.  Obviously, the smaller the tree, the easier it is for you to get the Christmas tree inside your car to transport home.

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to start decorating, and the first thing to go up has to be the tree!