Thursday, February 20, 2003

RANDOM TREND OBSERVATION (move over, Faith Popcorn): "We," in the USA Today sense, don't seem to be turning up our noses at vinyl car interiors anymore. I remember how, starting in the '70s, velvet or velour or just plain cloth seats were seen as a big step up from the stick-to-your-legs vinyl that came standard on most cars. Leather, fine and Corinthian or otherwise, has always been king, but for the middle class, cloth was it.

I'm not sure how long this has been the case, but now we're in the era of upscale vinyl. The idea of standard vinyl seats being called "Mercedes leather" was funny in Albert Brooks's "Lost in America" (1985), but now "leatherette" is being offered without irony. When I ordered my Mini Cooper recently, cloth was an option, but it wasn't easy to find; "leatherette" and leather are the main choices. I decided to spring for leather, having never owned a car with leather seats before, but in reading the Mini message boards I see a lot of enthusiasm for the leatherette.

This isn't just a fashion thing. The quality of the vinyl is getting better, and the quality of the cloth is getting worse. The beige velour-y seats on my 1995 Saturn SL2 are beautiful. The cloth seats I've seen more recently are butt-ugly -- often a neither-here-nor-there dark gray with incongruous colored threads that would be at home on a Harrah's carpet.

My Mini, by the way, is now sailing across the Atlantic from Southampton. Wanna buy a Saturn? (It should be out of the snow by next week.)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com