Blovember #27 – Mum Trucks

If you are in the UK you’ll be familiar with the term Mum Truck/Chelsea Tractor etc to refer to the school-run mum’s in vast 4×4’s, ostensibly bought to protect little Tarquin and Jocasta from all that dangerous traffic out there (which they singularly fail to see that they are directly perpetuating).

A little bit of reading on the psychology behind this makes for pretty simple understanding of why a  4×4, the bigger the better, is the natural choice. Driving comes with various risks so to mitigate them you’re higher up, the doors have a satisfyingly solid “thunk” when shut and they are four-wheel drive. OMG, a Four…..Wheel….. Drive.

The real off-road fanatics know that 4wd is only part of it. Tires, skill, clearance and the like make up the most part. However, the car manufacturers work very hard and spend lots of money working towards the right “thunk” sound and reassuring consumers that a 4×4 is the best choice for get-anywhere driving immortality.

It can make for astonishing exchanges when you try to drill into why a four-wheel drive is so superior. Remarking that they are often shod with very sport biased tires is met with puzzlement. Suggesting that a front-wheel drive Ford Fiesta with proper winter tyres will be safer and more efficacious in snow (the fear of every Brit mum that lives more than a mile from a city-centre) is dismissed as absurd. “But I have a four-wheel drive” is the refrain. Apparently four-wheel drive is a magic panacea for ill-suited tires and limited driving skills.

Presently there is much flooding round our parts in the UK. “Oh my God. Water  is everywhere.  Not to worry, at least I have a 4×4 and I know that that is a Good Thing, is the thought that the urban 4wd owners have. With all the off-road derived cars, in the manual, they list various clearances for going off-road, the natural home for these vehicles. Amongst these is a wading depth. E.g.: what is the maximum depth of water can I safely take this vehicle through? Simple enough. 700mm for a Landcruiser apparently.

Yesterday I followed a Toyota Landcruiser Colorado  -a tarted up £40k+ Mum Truck  but actually a workhorse with leather and sat-nav added – to a piece of flooded road that came 1/3 of the way up car wheels. The driver baulked at the water, drove experimentally into the first few feet it (of run-in not depth) and then promptly panicked and executed an 11 point turn to go around c. 10 miles. I guess that hubby has been lying about 70cm all this time.

Mum Trucks can wade:

It is often observed that the closest to off-road that these luxotanks  get is when Mum mounts a curb on the Zig-Zags in front of the school to drop off  T and J from the nearside door. After-all, who cares about anyone else or indeed the environment as long as the mantra of safety first is clarion? Personal safety that is, not  anyone else’s safety. Screw ’em.

Things that make me smile


Cooper Avon – you rock. Bikezone – you don’t

A day of two halves on the customer service front. Firstly, I was killing time in Zappi’s Bike Cafe which makes the most  excellent coffee in Oxford. It is inside Bike Zone and I meandered into the bike store part with both time to kill and the rarest of animals – cash in my pocket. There isn’t a riper time to relieve me of cash for bike ephemera  that when I am a bit bored and am holding the folding. So…I am standing in the middle of a small shop floor. There are the usual spanner jockeys behind the counter but walking around in front of me is someone who is clearly the boss, he knows it and doesn’t deal with trivia like customers standing there in front of him. He was stepping around me fer gawdsake… I was feeling rather silly actually as I was obviously getting in the way of him making scathing remarks to the spanner jockeys about their pathetic efforts to fill the shelves with stock.

On the other hand I was blown away by a call I received from the Sales Director of Avon Tyres. I had rung Avon to query why my new winter tyres, despite being stickered as Avon Ice Touring ST, were all saying Cooper Weathermaster on the sides. Odd. We agreed that as Cooper owns the Avon brand that although the labelling was wrong the items were essentially the same. Despite being offered the opportunity to have them changed I declined saying it was a lot of hassle and that why didn’t he just organise a voucher or something. Kevin replied that I was to call him when I was changing back to summer tyres and he’d organise the Avon’s of my choice to be delivered to Merit Tyre in Witney at 50% off. Wow! Who can say fairer than that. That simple gesture has just secured me as an Avon customer for good.

Avon Tyres Logo