Spring break marks the official start of road trips in America. So, my wife and six-year-old, decided that we could not break tradition this year; and planned a road trip.

The planning started like any other road trip, book accommodations, shop for “beach wear”, enlist house-sitter and get the automobile road ready! Driving an eight year old car on a five-hour road trip can be a cause for concern, if the car hasn’t been maintain properly; but for a car guy like myself, this would be a breeze. If 120,000 mile service and a new set of tires is a breeze, then that it was; a breeze. Getting the car “road ready” was more expensive than the entirety of the vacation. However, if there is a silver lining to the preparations, its that the car is set for the next two years.

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As painful as the preparations were, it pales in comparison to the pain I felt from what is usually my favorite part of road trips; the journey (car-watching). The first thing that I notice about approaching vehicles is the front of the car; the manufacturer’s statement. Identifying the make and model, from a distance, is like a right of passage for a true auto enthusiast. This road trip started like all the other’s before, but this trips tasks proved more difficult. Not from a lack of practice, but rather from a lack of ingenuity on the part of the automakers. After the first hour on the road, I was bored. Road trips, for car enthusiasts, are impromptu car shows, showcasing great design, engineering and individualism. This car show quickly blended into a parade of “me too” design. Even though every automotive brand has a traditional grille design or emblem of distinction, my first observation was that one brand has changed the “face” of the automobile, Audi. Audi has started a trend with their LED running lights that has enveloped the auto industry. If imitation is the purest form of flattery, all Audi’s should be available in blush red.

Audi LEDs were first introduced on the Audi A8 W12 in 2006 and quickly became the trademark of the brand. The design was so popular in fact, that Audi’s billboards showcased nothing but the new headlights. While the design was innovative and aesthetically pleasing, after seeing all the other automakers renditions this week, it would have been refreshing to see the old, round halogen headlights of the 70’s.

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So, on behalf of the generation that grew up screaming “that’s my car”, as we peered from the back seat window, I implore the automotive industry to be more creative and appeal to the child in us once more.

My take on road trips runs parallel with my philosophy on life; the journey should be more enjoyable than the destination. And were it not for the joy on my six-year olds face when her toes sank into the sand, my spring break journey would have been a bust! At least she truly enjoying the journey!

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