Road Noise: My Bumper Sticker Can Beat Up Your Honor Student
When you’re cruising down the highway, do you ever see a vehicle bearing bumper stickers that indicate the driver admires a political party/sports franchise/deity that you’re not especially crazy about? And then you have to struggle against the urge to make rude gestures or run them off the road, because how could they be so stupid as to support the Monster Raving Loonies/Gotham Gators/Flying Spaghetti Monster and then be so stupid as to tell everyone about it OMG can you believe these people?!
Time to cut back.
I’m unusual in the auto world in that my car sports a variety of bumper stickers. Most car people would sooner tattoo their infant children than mar their real babies with a slogan, whereas I actively loathe my personal ride. I figure the more stickers I add, the faster it’ll be demoralized to the point of suicide. (It figures that the more mechanical attention it needs, the sooner I’ll reach the same objective. It’s a titanic struggle of wills, really.)
The bumper sticker drought isn’t isolated to the gearhead community, though. Just the other day, the upcoming election – you may have heard something about it – inspired the folks at the Chicago Tribune to go out on a bumper sticker safari. Despite their sensational photographic evidence (Really, Slide 2? I mean really?), the Trib folks came up dry more often than not.
Why is that? I blame the car companies, because let’s face it, the average American hasn’t gotten any classier since the last time I checked.
Look at that – acres of bumper to sticker!
That there is what cars used to look like. The bumpers are metal, they’re flat, and they’re begging for a witty (for loose definitions of “witty”) catchphrase or a campaign endorsement. Those bumpers are indestructible. A sticker will not harm them.
Compare that to this:
If it weren’t for the windshield, I’d have no idea which way it was pointing.
Is there a single good place on that car to put a bumper sticker? I submit that there is not. While the Miata is sort of a holdover from an era of auto design when it seemed like every car had a ridiculously rounded bubble butt, most recent vehicles still eschew planes in favor of curves. Try and put a sticker on that bumper, and you’ve got a mess on your hands.
Furthermore (You can tell I’m really on a tear when I start busting out the furthermores.), modern cars are not only antithetical to the bumper sticker aesthetic, their materials seemingly were designed to go to war with stickers. Oh, you can go on all you want about crumple zones and safety, but it’s obvious that we have all these body-color crushable bumpers because someone in a lab somewhere had a hate-on for bumper stickers.
This is exactly how much WD-40 you need to remove a bumper sticker.
In the days of the steel behemoth bumpers, you had an out if your candidate lost or your team folded. With a razor blade and some patience, you could scrape away the evidence of your poor judgment, and no one would be the wiser. Try that on a modern bumper – you’ll be laying out for bodywork and new paint before you know it.
And don’t even bring up magnets – magnets are a poor substitute. They cost more, they don’t handle curves any better than the stickers, and there’s enough nonmetal construction on a car that you’re even more limited as to placement than before. A pox on magnets!
Now you’re just mocking me.