When I was younger, I was glad that I came from a Dodge family. All of our cars for my whole life were Dodges. It was the way my family worked. Dad would find a model that he liked and we’d get one after another after another of that model until the model was discontinued. I drive the family’s fourth Ford Escort (we’ve since become a Ford family), but at the time I was driving the family’s third Dodge Colt.

So why was I so glad to be a Dodge driver? Because it allowed me to… err… dodge the War of the Dueling Calvins. That would be the Calvins on the back of cars and trucks (well, usually trucks) wherein Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes fame would be urinating on the logo of either a Ford or a Chevy. Ford users targeted Chevy and Chevy drivers targeted Fords, and nobody targeted Dodges. Not that my constitution was too delicate to handle my car’s logo being in a little bumper sticker being urinated on, but the wars didn’t stop there.

I knew Ford people and I knew Chevy people. Back then it seemed like they were all car (well, usually truck) people and had more in common than not. Only since I became interested in computers and familiar with Windows people and Mac people did I understand the dynamics of the enthusiasts’ civil war.

As I’ve gotten older, I don’t really know any Ford people and Chevy people. I can’t remember the last time I met someone that identified with their car’s maker in that way. Now, though, I seem to entirely know Honda people and Toyota people. I know people that drive exclusively Hondas and people that drive exclusively Toyotas. No Calvin decals, but people are nonetheless spend a lot of time extolling the virtues of their preferred automobile manufacturer.

Part of me chalks up the shift to the problems that the American automotive industry has been having. The problems in Detroit are legion and well-publicized, so I won’t go over them here. Needless to say, more foreign cars are being sold than ever and domestic cars are having trouble keeping up. So I figured that the shift primarily reflected Japanese cars’ increasing dominance of the automotive market in the United States.

But there’s something else at work, too. When I got to by-stand in the Dueling Calvin Wars, I was spending a lot of time in the blue-collar town of Phillippi (pronounced “Phil-pee”), in between the suburb Mayne (pronounced “May-knee”) and the big city of Colosse (pronounced “kull-oss”… we southerners like our lazy pronunciations). Phillippi was solidly blue collar that grew on the fortunes and faded with the misfortunes of the chemical plants that emitted the odor that prevented it from ever becoming too suburbanized. Almost everyone in the Ford/Chevy struggle drove trucks. Usually pick-up trucks, sometimes suburbans and cargo-friendly vans. Never anything fuel-efficient.

Now, though, most of the people I know are entering the middle class or are already there. Gas prices have forced us to buy more fuel-friendly cars and there is now social encouragement to do so as well (and no social encouragement to “buy American”). If there’s one place that the American manufacturers still have a foothold, it’s trucks. If there’s one battle they’ve lost, it’s yuppie, compactish, efficient little cars.

That might also explain why one car included urinating cartoon figures and the other did not.


Category: Road

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5 Responses to The War of the Dueling Calvins

  1. Peter says:

    I’ve also seen those bumper stickers with Bart Simpson doing the weasel-drainage duties. Calvin is still more popular, however.

  2. trumwill says:

    Bart Simpson certainly is a more natural fit for that role.

  3. Peter says:

    Not too veer too far off-topic, but the latest trend in vehicle adnornment involves rear window decals of cartoon figures representing the vehicle owners’ family members. There’ll be adult male and female figures for the husband and wife, child figures of appropriate numbers, sizes and genders, and sometimes even pet figures. I’m not quite sure what the point is behind these. Pride in one’s family?

    For the record, getting one of these decals for my car would be impossible as there is nowhere near enough space on the rear window for all the cat decals required.

  4. trumwill says:

    It seems popular amongst Hispanics (in Colosse and Estacado, at least) to have the last name plastered on the back windshield in fancy lettering. Maybe what you’re talking about is the northeastern, WASPy equivalent?

    I personally don’t have anything on my window except a Southern Tech alumni sticker. On a previous car I had a “Sweet Home Delosa” bumper stickers that were common in the state. I also put a flag of my native state of Kingsland (where I was born but have no memory of) to appease my Kingslander mother who believes that anyone born on Kingsland soil is a Kingslander for life.

  5. Hit Coffee » No Good Reason says:

    […] lancy for her Toyota nor did I Julie for her Honda or Kyle and his Mazda. Maybe there is a little redneck in me that wants the eternal struggle be between Ford and Chevy. Or I like the simplicity […]

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