Your car can say a lot about you. For example, some owners fit personalised number plates, and the rest of us have a very clear view of what this says about them.

Beyond helping the simple-minded to remember their own name, cars are often used to move people and things from one location to another. So, some sort of engine is usually regarded as an essential requirement.

As a child in the 70s I was sure that by now we’d all be driving atomic-powered cars. In this, as in so much else, I was completely wrong. Despite the advent of electric cars, which are now leaving behind their milk-float heritage, at least until the battery goes flat, petrol engines remain popular despite having been around for a hundred years.

Generations of school kids have been taught that the four-stroke petrol-engine cycle is “Suck, Squash, Bang, Blow”. This terminology is one example of how cars are closely linked with sex – and the only reason many adults can remember the four-stroke cycle.

Some men see a car as an extension of their sexuality. This results in the motoring equivalent of penis-envy, manifesting as anxiety, grandstanding or aggressive behaviour towards other road users. In extreme cases it may also lead to the purchase of personalised number plates.

When it comes to actual sex, a car is often the location of choice for those either lacking a more suitable venue, or preferring the frisson of extra-domiciliary intimacy. However, it’s important to ensure your selected vehicle is suitable for whatever activity you have in mind, and you should think twice before borrowing your parents’ car.

If you’re unfortunate enough to put your back out attempting a particularly challenging configuration in the confines of an inadequately-sized vehicle then you, your partner and it may remain inextricably linked until the fire-brigade come and hack the roof off. You may want to use this period of time to consider how to sell the benefits of an open-top conversion to your parents.

Today’s cars are much more reliable than they used to be. In the UK this is mainly because British cars are now built by non-British companies that apply basic quality control procedures. Essentially, the car isn’t allowed to leave the factory if checks reveal important-looking nuts and washers left over after putting it together.

Reliability has also been improved by making it far harder for the average driver to maintain his car – and hence damage it. Manufacturers now hide bonnet releases, and if you do manage to get the lid open you’re faced with a welter of fluorescent warning symbols that leave you in no doubt that the only sensible course of action is to close it again.

But it’s not all good news. Today cars are widely accepted as having a detrimental effect on the environment, with the disruption of weather patterns, storm-force winds and localised temperature extremes becoming more common. It can only be a matter of time before laws are passed to ban manufacturers from fitting “climate control”.

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