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Arkell's Ark: What Can I Say? Iím a Guy; Itís What We Do

"Auto development, design, construction, worship and adulation, even dribbling on windshields at car shows, has always been a male thing,'' writes Ian Arkell.

In 1826 Samuel Brown was having a really ordinary day. Heíd woken after a night of reasonably heavy drinking and looked out on a bleak, loveless sort of London morning and tried to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. After an hour or so of sitting in front of the fire, he decided to make a car.

Now no-one had done that before. So it wasnít as though heíd read in Practical Mechanics how you could make one at home in only a couple of hours or that heíd been pressured by a long-suffering wife to do something constructive for once. ďNo, dammit, Iím making a carĒ, he said out loud to nobody in particular. Although had she heard, his wife might have added, ďThatís nice Dear.Ē

Now I donít know if Samuel kept a detailed account of what took place next and for all I know he may have knocked the whole thing together in a couple of hours before lunch. All I know for sure was that he built a two cylinder car in 1826. I was impressed.

Iíd like to take a guess at something though, without having access to his thought processes that is. I reckon he made it for one of the following reasons: to make life easier, help transport bulky items to market, travel to the nearest town more quickly, or, and we shouldnít dismiss this last one out of hand, to simply keep out of his wifeís way for the rest of the afternoon. The first car was a two cylinder extravaganza. And presumably it did the job. Whatever it was.

It was probably just a short time before a neighbour latched onto what was happening and reasoned that if Sammy baby could get to the nearest village in twenty minutes with a two cylinder machine, then how much faster could he get there with something that had three or more cylinders.

The rest, as testosterone watchers will confirm, is history. And even though weíve come a long way in that hundred and eighty odd years, testosterone remains the key word here. Auto development, design, construction, worship and adulation, even dribbling on windshields at car shows, has always been a male thing.

How many women race cars, steal cars, haunt spare parts shops or grab the latest muscle car magazine for the centrefold? Single figures come to mind. Car magazines should be read wearing a bib or something, thereís so much testosterone. Thereís muscle cars, SUVs with grunt and without the obligatory V8, well, you ainít there pal.

Of course Formula One is really just another step up the testosterone ladder, slippery though it might be. But while these guys are also a touch higher on the socio-economic level, I think theyíre basically the same as their more impoverished counterparts.

I realised this the other day when I was surfing a sports channel and caught the ending of a major race somewhere. The winners and also rans were being congratulated by young women who for the most part were fully dressed but would have slipped into a centrefold without any problem. So guess what these sophisticated euro guys do when theyíre presented with their magnums of champagne?

Yep, happens every time. Get the picture here? I suppose whipping round at 250ks an hour tends to get one just a touch excited. Theyíre young guys. I guess itís understandable. Itís probably just another form of sexual dysfunction and possibly things might change as men evolve and realise that the primary role of a car is transport.

Maybe all men approaching puberty need to enter into therapy to wean them off anything automotive by the time theyíre old enough for a driving licence.

Anyway itís not my problem. Iíve got things to do. Theyíve just opened an autoparts shop on the way into town and there are some fantastic specials for the rest of the week. Iím after one of those stickers for the back windshield of my SUV. You know, those wide bulls horns. Theyíre really big and horny and, well, I reckon you canít beat a good testosterone based sticker for real impact. Lets people know where youíre coming from.

© Ian Arkell

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