Sometimes I wondered why they picked me for the job of head designer at one of the world’s most esteemed car companies. I wonder more frequently why they let me keep the job after I unveiled the Apex Predator.
I had reasoned, in initial design meetings, that what people really wanted was a car that was absolutely, unreasonably batshit. My boss nodded at every comparison to straight-blade shaving, running chainsaws one-handed without a guard, firing TEC-9s with the safety filed off in public debates for emphasis, and five-finger fillet. He even agreed with my overarching technical decisions. Before long, we discovered that his agreeable state was due to a combination of amyl nitrate and grain alcohol, but by then the product was on its way to dealerships.
The reviews were brutal. Consumer Reports claimed it was “undriveable” and the installation of a traction control system that only profanely taunted you in a synthesized voice before allowing you to crash was not going to endear it to the majority of American consumers. But I wasn’t looking for the majority of American consumers.
In the end, what the Apex Predator did was allow me to identify my fellow deviants, stepping out from their five-person message boards, Princess Auto parking lots and angle grinder collections into the bright sunlight, blinking in admiration while craning their necks to grab a vision of Detroit’s acknowledgment that they were okay. They were accepted. They were loved.
But it also let the government know about those deviants. A month after the first Apex Predator burst its way through a crowded suburban shopping mall, ripping a series of staccato misfires as the mandatory anti-lag kept the turbocharger on the boil, they clamped down and sent everyone with their names attached to a VIN to a special blacksite prison in Cuba.
I’m still sorry about that, you guys. But the traction control didn’t work.