Admittedly, I'm not a car guy. Car guys know things, such as what a carburettor is and which vehicles Jay Leno owns. They are the ether of publicist-sponsored dinner parties from Ingolstadt to Osaka. They like cars for all the right reasons, while I like cars that are odd-looking, heroically doomed or beautifully flawed. I love cars for the journeys they lead us on.
I met my Intersection magazine co-founder, Yorgo Tloupas, a decade ago when he was the art director of Crash magazine in Paris. At the time he owned two Hondas: a beat-up Civic and an S2000 convertible - or S2K, to use its millennial name. His S2K would climb to appalling speeds - even if you pretended they were in miles per hour rather than kilometres per hour - but was terrifyingly fun. Yorgo applied his graphisme skills to faking parking tickets in order to avoid feeding the meters with money, and soon I was in on the act too, writing accompanying screeds to encourage the UK's errant youth to post them on windscreens.
Intersection evolved from an idea in to a book, in to a magazine during a year of road trips. We went to a castle to visit a collection of art cars, to a house party in Marseille via an afternoon of skiing some leftover snow in the low-lying Alps, en route from a car show in Geneva. We travelled to St Petersburg in a shadowy rally, hurried along by bribed post-Soviet officials and helicopter cops. These were our focus groups, our test runs.
When our dummy magazine was ready, the S2K picked me up from my day job at Dazed & Confused and we blurred through southern England and western France, drowning out techno with the high-revving engine (cars have the ability to make you feel athletic while you sit still and eat crisps). That night, I DJed at a club until 5am and then we drove to Milan for our first advertising meeting. I woke up hoisted six feet above ground in a mechanic's workshop and then sleepily handed over a brown envelope of cash in exchange for new tyres. We eventually met the dapper sales rep over coffee at the Hotel Principe di Savoia, and then set off on the long drive back to London.
Driving should be fun, an invitation to explore a meditative personal space that facilitates possibilities - but it generally isn't. Cars hurt people, choke the air, clog the streets, waste our time. They're expensive and fiddly, they break, dent and peel. Many of the most visceral images I see when I close my eyes or open my browser are of cars burning in riots, crashing on racetracks, snaking for miles in immobile traffic, or helplessly floating in floods. They're emblems of our age, for better or worse.
Our new book, Cars Now, is an attempt, with Taschen, to survey the entire car species and highlight the few that have soul and purpose. Here are 10 cars that we think make the mark.
Intersection: Cars Now - A Guide to the Most Notable Cars Today