There's a line in The Deer Hunter where one of the ill-fated friends berates his buddy for not eating "good food," stuff like fried chicken, ribs, etc. Or, it might have been from Sharky's Machine, I can't exactly remember, but that's not important. The reply is something like, "I like to stay hungry helps keeps the fear up."

That imagery and all its applications have been locked in my brain for decades: Stay hungry-keep the fear up.

I don't know why. I do know that my capacity for comfort has a distinct limit, a latent, self-imposed threshold inscribed on my sub-conscience. I can only stand so much before I start itching, eventually leaping from said state as if aflame.

Take the SUVs tested this issue. After a few hours driving, I had the urge to roll myself in dirt, find the muddiest ditch, and run through it. My stupid dog does the same thing after a bath or when he finds an especially aromatic carcass.

Lucky for me, I double as a photog; no one really questions my actions. If Les is lying in the dirt, it's because he's willing to do anything for a great image. Man, is he dedicated or what?

If they only knew. I guess I like to be dirty (or rugged as I prefer to call it). I like to think I am master of my surroundings, in touch with both mechanical and natural devices. And to do that, I have to get close to the subject. That means getting dirty.

Although these SUVs were delivered with an eye-watering sheen, they were returned with a gorgeous earthen patina. Each vehicle looked as though it just finished the Paris-Dakkar Rally. They looked beautiful, happy, loved.

It's a shame few of these cars will never see such use. Most will be resigned to a life akin to an automotive health spa, an existence of pampered excess.

Ultimately, I think that may be why SUVs get a bad rap. Owners aren't using them correctly. When I see a Touareg, Range Rover, or Cayenne tattooed with mud and guts, I think, "Now there's a guy who knows how to live." I admire guys like that.

My new mission is to give frustrated SUVs a taste of the great outdoors. In a perfect world, I'd have a universal key. I'd take each car on a "joy ride" and return it by morning. Obviously, that's not going to happen anytime soon; I need an alternative plan. Maybe I'll simply throw mud on every SUV I see and give them the well-used and rugged look that chicks dig and men respect. Or maybe not.

Better yet, send me a picture of your Euro-wagon in genuine off-road attire. I promise I'll print it and throw in a handful of Mother's car care stuff.

Your SUV will love you for it.

Les Bidrawn
Editor
european.car@sourceinterlink.com

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