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All the bells and whistles.

Kids love to send the electric windows down at any time of the day.  “Helicopter wobbing” – as we call it – is the loud vibrations in the air waves from windows that have been sent down while travelling at highway speeds.  There’s nothing more irritating!  Well, almost.  A high-pitched scream from the aftermath of a squabble in the back seat features right up the list of most unwanted noises on a long car trip.  Hey, I love our kids.  And I enjoy the electric windows – especially the one-touch switches that go all the way up after one flick of the switch.  The anti-pinch function with electric windows is also something I love, having had my finger squeezed in electric windows without this safety feature – the experience lets you know what that medieval torture device known as the thumbscrew felt like.  Electronic luxuries, even the luxuries that are not linked to electronics, can be a car owner’s delight – delights that will make the car trip a pleasure, delights that set the standard, and delights that you can show off to all your mates.  What are the bells and whistles that you could never do without?

The days of the horse and carriage are over – at least for now.  Though I reckon you still could combine high-tech carriages with solar power and horses easily enough, and market them as being the most fuel-efficient, least harmful to the environment vehicles in the world.  But even the horse and carriage of the nineteenth century had the finest luxury materials of the day.  The leather on some of the premium carriages was so beautifully crafted that it has a charm and warmth completely missing from most of today’s high-end car interior upholsteries – though Jaguars of the 1980s and 1990s could match them.  That was what made the Jaguar of this era so charming.  The warmth of the interior welcomed you with soft sumptuous leather seats.  You could forgive the Jag’s appalling reliability, and revel in the car’s awesome luxury.  Leather seats rate highly on my list of luxury features you just can’t do without.

Premium sounds get the big tick on my list, as well.  There’s nothing like cruising the motorway with crystal clear sounds.  A good audio system is a must in my cars. And steering-wheel mounted audio controls are up there: though I can live without them, I’d prefer to have them.

You just gotta have air-con, too!  Especially in Australia, where the heat of the summer sun can blister paint or fry an egg.  Most flagship models for Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, BMW, HSV and Lexus have zoned climate control, where one occupant on one side of the back seat can have a different temperature and climate to the occupant sitting on the other side of the back seat.  Not bad, eh?  This is the sort of luxury item I like – though for some, what’s wrong with the manual wind-down windows?

Heated seats, televisions, seat massagers and GPS are gadgets that are starting to get over the top – don’t you reckon?  These are the sort of ‘Bells and Whistles’ that only the snobs have, right?  And what about parking sensors… this luxury feature just proves how badly you handle a vehicle in a shopping mall car park.  I mean, surely, what sort of real man is going to brag about his parking sensors!  Though I do have a weakness for heated seats…

One of the high-tech ‘way cool’ features that my dream car wouldn’t be without is the system that can change a flat tyre on the move.  Forget the silly-sounding talking GPS unit or the automatic light- up sun visors for touching up lipgloss (do it at home, girls – much easier). Wouldn’t you rather be with a car that can change its own tyre, have the latest high-tech airbag for your knees and keep your morning coffee hot in the temperature-sensing driver’s cup holder?