In the same way music festivals are replacing material goods, motoring events may be replacing the purchase of cars themselves
‘Peak stuff’, then. Like ‘peak’ anything, it’s apparently a turning point, the summit of something. And when ‘peak’ meets ‘stuff’, it’s a limit to the amount of things and possessions we need.
Scale back the presses and the factories, lads: we’ve got enough plastic things. We own everything we want, which will in future limit our spending on material goods.
At least, this is the apogee we have apparently reached, according to an article, sponsored, curiously, by somebody who wants me to spend money on their thing, in a newspaper I also paid for.
Still, good effort. There’s research in there. Credit card spending on ‘things’ is down. Spending on ‘experiences’ is up. Materialism is dead and we’re spending on activities instead; ‘going out’, to you and me.
It’s youngsters, in particular, who are mostly behind this trend. Now, those of us prepared to take a step back might wonder if this is less about turning away from materialism and more about ‘peak house price absurdity’, and that if only young people could afford a bloody house, they’d forever be buying stuff to put in it. But given they can’t, they’ll go to a music festival instead, and come home owning some terrific memories and a cracking hangover. The more emotionally and spiritually engaged and aligned with said activity, the better, too, by all accounts.
And perhaps it’s true and that motoring, as ever, mirrors life itself, because cars are a hobby definitely not short on experiences. Want to do something car-related? My guess is you could find something different every weekend of the year. There are established motor races galore, thrice Goodwoods, a newish motor show in London, plus the perfectly serviceable ones London already had, Coventry’s Motofest, Bicester Heritage’s frequent Sunday events plus its Flywheel festival, Carfests north and south, new hillclimbs and, seemingly, a classic car show at every village fête I see advertised. There are so many events that Cholmondeley Castle’s Power and Speed (formerly the Pageant of Power) has found it a hard market to break into.
Is the market close to saturation, then? If it is, nobody has told Silverstone, which has just announced that the SpeedMachine Festival will arrive next May. This is actually the relocated British round of the World Rallycross Championship with extras bolted on. I feel sorry for Lydden Hill, the traditional British home of World Rallycross, because it’s a cool venue in a natural amphitheatre that’s great for spectating, whereas Silverstone isn’t. Anyway, all of this experiencing cars means, presumably, that we’re not buying them any more, right? That ‘peak stuff’ has arrived in motoring just like it has knobbled everything else?
That would be true, were it not for the fact that last year was, again, another record year for car sales. We bought 2.7 million of them in 2016, albeit an awful lot, by all accounts, on finance. So in terms of buying and enjoying, we’re more in love with the car than ever. So we’re not at ‘peak motoring’ yet. But given those outstanding finance payments, I wonder what the other side will look like when we are.