3 Dec 2014

If The Dude Was British What Car Would He Drive?

I'm into films as much as I am cars and The Big Lebowski is my favourite movie. Its central character, Jeffrey Lebowski, is a pot smoking, beer drinking, bowls playing, unemployed, ex-roadie who drives an ancient Ford Torino.

The car is a 1973 model and the film is set in 1998 so it was 25 years old at the time of filming.  The Torino was a mid-size coupe/saloon with a V8 up-front and a half decent turn of speed. At the time of its release Car & Driver said it was, "..quiet as a Jaguar, smooth as a Continental, the Torino's ride is exceptional...even with the competition suspension."

The Dude's Torino was a four door in an advanced state of disrepair. Being a laid back kind of guy, presumably skint and not always in full control of his faculties The Dude would almost certainly not have chosen it after a thorough search of the classifieds.

Instead I like to think he just somehow stumbled upon it and maybe paid a fistful of dollars for it, after all it wasn't considered a classic, just a beat up old car. In beige.

This video, a clip from the film, sums up The Dude, and his Torino.

The Torino had something of a racing history at NASCAR, the photo below shows a 1968 Ford Torino "Sportsroof."

But what if The Dude had been British? What if the film was remade in 2014 but set in the suburbs of some low-rent provincial UK town? He wouldn't have driven a Torino, that would have meant too much effort, too much thought and just, like, too much hassle, man. And shit. No, The British Dude would drive something Yoooropean.

Being a Brit I'm able to help. The car is 25 years old which means it should be a 1989 model. That was a terrible era for car manufacturing but The Dude doesn't care. It just needs to, like, drive, man.

It needs to be a saloon - The Dude doesn't drive a Fiesta or some shitty hatchback. It needs to be a cruiser.  An automatic too - how else would The Dude drink a beer, smoke a spliff and beat out a drum solo on the steering wheel at the same time?

It should be a reasonably popular model, or at least one that doesn't need hunting down in the classified pages of Classic Car Magazine. The Dude should have been able to somehow acquire this car, not seek it out.

It needs to be cheap too. The cool, old cars are getting expensive now. Even a Ford Cortina, which might seem the obvious choice, costs a fortune. There's a brown Cortina 1.6 GL on Autotrader right now for 5 grand! Man that makes my brain hurt.

No, The British Dude's car should be big, cheap, not exactly fresh and slightly crap yet also cool.

The candidates have to be:

Ford Granada Scorpio - the swoopy late 80s model, not the square early 80s model
BMW 5-series E34 - probably a 520i
Jaguar XJ6 - XJ40, the one with the square headlights
Vauxhall Senator - favourite with the cops back in the early 90s
Citroen BX - woohoo hydropneumatic suspension
Mercedes E-Class - W124, the best they made

Of those the Senator is too rare so that's out. The XJ6 could have been The Dude's car but it's just too wilfully cool in a retro way. The BX is certainly an everyman's car but nowadays it's a classic and it wouldn't stand up to the abuse The Dude would neglectfully throw at it.

We have a top three - the Granada, 5-series and E-Class.

The E-Class would be too elitist for such a laid back character, he wouldn't want to, you know, stand out from the crowd.

The Granada would be ideal as it's a Ford, an auto, has a lazy V6 and has just the right amount of shabby chic that The Dude certainly wouldn't seek out but would naturally levitate towards.

But Granadas are getting too rare.

There is only one car deserving of The British Dude. A BMW 5-series. It's cheap, big, laid back, often crummy, certainly not a classic yet, has a motorsport pedigree and will withstand the odd low speed crash. Type 520i or 518i into eBay and you'll find dozens for under a bag of sand.

Despite the fact this one is a manual and was made in 1994 I like to think The Dude would suit it. The car's shit, the advert was written by a moron (i.e. "YOU CAN NOT GONE WRONG AT ALL"and the photos were contracted out to Stevie Wonder but it just highlights the perfect marriage of Dude and E34 5-series. A marriage made in heaven, man.

Just look at it, it's wonderful and it costs just £590. The Dude would approve.

By Matt Hubbard