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Friday Night Fight: Volkswagen Golf vs. Ford Focus and Why We Really Buy Cars

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Friday Night Fight: Volkswagen Golf vs. Ford Focus and Why We Really Buy Cars

Bill Crittenden
May 27, 2014

A few weeks ago Speedmonkey asked, "Ding Ding it's Friday fight night and this week it's the battle of quite possibly the two best family hatchbacks on the market, the legendary VW Golf and the Ford Focus!  Who's the winner?"

My pick is the Ford Focus.  Here was my response on Speedmonkey's Facebook page, with the reasoning:

Almost everybody I know who drives a Volkswagen is an asshole.  The exception to that is a walking blonde joke.  Not an ownership group I'd be proud to join.

The VW's a solid car, sure, but the styling is blah.  Something an accountant would be proud of, not something I'd enjoy.

The Ford, in the ST version, doesn't have that unfortunately-shaped lower grille and looks damn good.  It's got tons of electronics that I didn't think a car that size would offer.

Being a Ford, there's quite a few nifty little themes one can pick up on for customizing.  My favorite would be to get an electric blue one and paint a white Boss Mustang stripe on the side with the engine displacement in cubic inches, evocative of an old-school Grabber Blue Boss Mustang.

"B.W." at Speedmonkey had this in response: "Horseshit Billyboy! Buy yourself any Golf GTI and eat those words!"

So I had to try and explain myself a little better:

From what I've heard of the UK the Honda Fit is an old pensioner's car, here it's the sort of thing a fellow with metal sticking out of his nose and a tattoo sleeve drives.

Well, there seem to be some differences in Volkswagen drivers, too.  Here in my part of the US, Volkswagens are for douchebags who view Apple as a religion, Steve Jobs as Jesus, and have a superiority complex because they have "German engineering" but didn't "waste their money on a Beemer."

Maybe if I lived in the UK and didn't know the Volkswagen drivers that I do, I'd be more into it.  But I really just don't want to ever see myself in one at this point in my life! :-)

There are three main lessons from this that I can't stress enough: 1.) a great car will make you feel better about yourself, and 2.) since there are 7 billion people with all sorts of different ideas of who they want to be, there are going to be lots of different cars for all those different desires, and 3.) what makes you feel good (or not) about a car often has nothing to do with the performance or features of the car.

Sometimes, the desire to be a part of (Pontiac), or avoid (Volkswagen), a certain group of owners has an influence on the cars we buy.  Remember when Jeremy Clarkson kept saying on Top Gear that BMW M3s were driven "exclusively by cocks," and then brought out a "Cock-O-Meter" to the side of the road to further insult M3 drivers?

Not exactly making me feel like running out to buy an M3.  How about you?

Sadly, I've had bad experiences with new Volkswagen owners (classic VW owners, however, have been great).  So, the modern Volkswagen scores off the scale on my own personal Cock-O-Meter.  Oh, and saying things like, "Horseshit Billyboy!" really does nothing to contradict this!

Now that I've had a few days to think about it I really like the idea I had a while back of making a mini version of a famous race car.  The dark yellow Focus ST is close to the color of the famous 1970 Mustang that George Follmer campaigned on the Trans Am racing circuit.  All it needs is a few #16 roundels, a black stripe across the top, and a black Boss stripe on each side.

Sure, if I wanted speed & performance there are faster cars.  But I like the Focus' style & interior, it fits well in my family's already half-Ford garage, and I can make it a personalized car that makes me feel great driving it, something no brand-new Golf is ever going to do for me for the foreseeable future.

I'm not trying to convince anybody that the Ford is actually a better car than the Volkswagen, just that the Ford is the better of the two choices for me.

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