A handy guide to becoming a ‘u

Dazzle your friends with your Ferrari know-how around the braai. Image: Supplied

A handy guide to becoming a ‘useless car facts’ expert

If you love cars and have time to spare, you could learn new facts about them every day and become the person people love to avoid.

A handy guide to becoming a ‘u

Dazzle your friends with your Ferrari know-how around the braai. Image: Supplied

There is nothing worse than having to listen to some self-proclaimed expert waffling on about cars while your eyes glaze over with boredom. Take heart: The way to stop the tirade is simple. Throw in some obscure facts of your own that puzzles the expert and the droning voice will stop short.

Popping somebody’s balloon can be so satisfying.

Becoming a useless car fact expert

The best way to set the bore up is to ask something simple and then set him up for failure.

For example, ask: “What is the Ferrari emblem again?” Then when you are condescendingly told that it is a prancing horse, you deliver the crippling blow: “Ah, yes, but where does the horse come from?”

While fingernails are being examined, you take over the role of being the supreme bore.

“Well,” you say. “The horse was painted on the fuselage of the fighter plane of Francesco Baracca — Italy’s greatest first World War 1 ace. It was part of the coat of arms of his aristocratic family. His mother urged Ferrari to put her son’s prancing horse on his cars as it would bring him luck.”

Forget to put in the part about the ace perishing after being shot down in 1918, but add in the bit about the yellow background being the colour of Modena where Enzo Ferrari was born.

Cool…now that you have the idea, you are good to go.

Think about adding these items to your arsenal

  • While the topic of technology is being aired, drop the one about Ralph Teetor inventing the speed control and patenting it in 1945. The fact that he was blind and had been since he was five-years-old will make your contribution a slam-dunk.
  • When Hummers and the “Humvee” are discussed, tell your audience that this is an abbreviation for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). Then again, who cares.
  • When somebody who has visited Dubai, talks about the police in their supercars, add your bit by saying that the fastest car in the fleet is a Bugatti Veyron. The car is capable of outrunning the fastest racing camel over a 25m standing start (on second thoughts, leave out the bit about the camel).
Bugatti Veyron is the fastest car in the supercar fleet. Image: Supplied
  • Bust the myth about the “Mercedes” in Mercedes Benz coming from Benz’s daughter. Mercedes was the daughter of Emil Jellinek who raced in modified Daimler racing cars. He worked with Wilhelm Maybach to design vehicles that delivered more performance and reliability, and in 1900, a 35-horsepower model was named the Mercedes. The name stuck and became part of the brand.  
  • Derail remarks about how fast an F1 pit crew can change tyres by pointing out that Royal Marines military mechanics in 1985 performed the quickest engine change on record. They dropped in a new Ford Escort Mk111 engine in 42 seconds (I wonder if the Queen knew that her troops had nothing better to do than mess around with cars).
  • When confusion abounds about which vehicle manufacture owns which car brands, show off by revealing that the Volkswagen leads the field by owning Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen. Consider adding in that probably the most confused people are those at Jaguar Landrover who were British, became American-owned and are now part of Tata.
  • Say that the brand which has the longest-lasting cars is Rolls Royce, which various sources say still have between 60% and 75% of their vehicles on the road. Put the boot in by mentioning that the famous “Spirit of Ecstasy” bonnet ornament was sculpted by Charles Robinson Sykes. The model was Eleanor Velasco Thornton who died after the boat she was in was torpedoed off Greece in 1915.
Spirit of Ecstasy emblem. Image via Adobe Stock
  • And of course, no discussion is complete without talking about the Beetle. The last Beetle rolled off the production line in Mexico in 2019, bringing to an end a history that began with being commissioned by Adolf Hitler in 1935. In 1972, it eclipsed sales of the Ford Model T to become the best-selling car of all time.

All you have to do now is get on your laptop and decide what facts you want to specialise in, and do the research. Then, go forth and find an audience.

You will know you are good when your friends talk about anything but cars, so they won’t have to listen to you.

Also read: How to safeguard your car with snakes, flamethrowers and biscuit tins