A Car's Interior Life

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Jul 23, 2013 | By Joseph Minardi

It's safe to say people buy certain cars because their appearance sends a status message to the nearby world: "I like nice cars," or "I'm f-ing rich," or "I never fully grew up," or "I'm compensating," or "I have a family now," etc.

Yet, what good is the shell without an equally pleasing inner existence? A nice car with an ugly interior is like a beautiful vintage home stuffed with IKEA. It's just wrong. Moreover, those tacky innards describe a person in greater detail than a superficial glance at the exterior, don't they?

Since the average vehicle owner spends far more time inside his or her car than looking at it, this subtle inner world can reveal personality in ways the paint and chrome simply can not. Let's begin:

1982 Volvo 760 GLE (click the link for exterior)

This photo was taken after vacuuming all the golden retriever hair and cleaning up the juice boxes before soccer practice but after ballet, on the way to the book club meeting, with the charter school open house and the adult ice cream social on the agenda for a big Wednesday night out. 

Bedtime's at 8:30, you guys.

Possible owners: suburban Connecticut; practical people; Bay Area liberals; Switzerland.

1977 Lincoln Continental Mark V

A 19-foot boatload of swag on the outside, an exotic reprieve of burgundy rapture on the inside. An opium den befitting the truly imperious man (or woman) who uses public spaces the way Nero used Rome, colonizes mall parking spots like a captain of the Spanish Armada, and specifically requests leftover velvet from Hugh Hefner's robe.

Possible owners: John Shaft, Boss Hog, Cher.

1993 Renault Safrane Bi-Turbo

Europe-only model. Epic brick of a carphone, indicating willingness and ability to pay indecent sums of money for early '90's mobile technology, emphasizing need to do self-important business with the outside world at all times, re-emphasizing wealth and self-importance.

Possible owners: UN diplomat; Eastern European drug boss; Hans Gruber.

1966 Ford Bronco

An exception must be made here: no single person can own this 1966 Ford Bronco. Cool and frosty like a Dairy Queen hand-dip on the Fourth of July, this upholstery belongs to America.

Possible owners: Detroit; America.

1989 Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet T

As an Italian, I can safely say this is all pretty typically Italian. First, there is not a single indication of subtlety anywhere. Second, there is nothing even remotely humble about the two golden stallions, the third black stallion (there's always a third), or the heaping buckets of creamy, butter-soft caramel leather.

Possible owners: immodest rich people; Google board members; Michael Bay.

1984 Toyota Camry

Everything utilitarian and beige-brown, except the speedometer. 200 kilometers per hour. (125 mph in a 4-cylinder Camry!) 

That's like an accountant who dreams of doing Broadway. That's like a housecat who dreams of hunting antelope. 

Much like the ambitious Japanese engineers who built this rather optimistic speedometer, the owner of this car clearly dreamt big.

Possible owners: Bill Gates; Steve Jobs.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle

He sat in his driveway, wiggled his stubby fingers into black leather driving gloves, combed his golden, broomlike mustache in the rearview and musically throttled the big block engine to the searing licks of his favorite Foghat guitar duel.

Once his neighbors had all come stomping out of their houses, annoyed, he went back to bed, satisfied.

Possible owners: Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused.

All images via Car Interiors Tumblr.