Why modern cars are not for drive-ins

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IOL mot aug18 drivein . Ever wondered why drive-in cinemas are dying? It is because of Minesh and his laarnie Mercedes from hell.

So your toddlers have surely at some point asked you why they can’t go to the drive-in during the day, right? Well let me tell you why it’s also not such a good idea to go to the drive-in at night either.

On a recent escapade with the family to a local drive-in I thought I’d be stylish and took the latest greatest Merc along as my chosen set of wheels. Which was all fine, until the various internal and external automatic light functions almost got me moered.

You see, for some reason the days of a simple headlight switch and internal roof-light lever are long gone. The fancier cars of today have lights that clean themselves, dip automatically, follow curves on the road, sport Xenon or LED super-brightness, you name it. Whereas the drive-in on the other hand is exactly the same as grandpa and grandma used to visit.

It’s a simple system – find a spot, tune in the radio station (or in those days grab the radio box), and enjoy the movie.

Which is where it went wrong a few weeks back.

I parked the Merc but obviously once you switch the car off every courtesy light possible switches on, the headlights stay on for a few minutes annoying the car in front of you, the interior lights (including ambient mood lighting that would make a strip-club owner blush) do the same, even the doorhandles want a piece of the action. So after what seemed like an eternity, with car owners all around me glaring at what looked like my lack of manners, things darkened blissfully.

Or so I hoped. Next up was the radio debacle, with the drive-in obviously working on a non-RDS station meaning I had to manually try and find it on the complicated infotainment system. I finally got this right but then half-an-hour later the car thought nobody could possibly still be sitting in it and promptly shut the radio down.

Understandable I guess, but then hitting the Start button once (whatever happened to the simple Aux setting with a normal key?) got all the mothership’s interior lights and exterior park lights going again. The lights again went off after a while, but the fully electronic speedometer wasn’t as gracious and seemed to only go off after a long time – which is not great glare-wise when trying to watch the movie. Not to mention that it was still relatively warm a few weeks back, so every now and then I’d have to open a window, which required a press of the Start button ...

Eventually I started scrolling through the assistance menus to try and curb the courtesy settings. They can be shortened, but not really eliminated.

And thanks to a recent long termer with battery issues my paranoia got the better of me and halfway through the movie I thought it best to start the car and charge the battery for a minute, to be on the safe side – and that’s when I nearly got moered.

People get so grumpy when half the movie screen is obliterated by Xenon light.

So the moral of the story is take some camper chairs and sit outside your annoyingly modern car, or go park your laarnie car in a laarnie mall and buy a cinema ticket, like laarnie people do. -Star Motoring


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Anonymous, wrote

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10:33am on 19 August 2011
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True motering journalism. Loved it! Thanx

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:23am on 19 August 2011
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Nicely written Mr Bhagloo.

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Big_Al, wrote

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08:45am on 19 August 2011
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Great article Minesh. I have not been to a drive-in in years, but I always wondered what the experience would be like in a mordern car for precisely the reasons which were mentioned in the article. From personal experiences, just listening to the radio in a parked mordern car, while waiting for someone is a pain, as I have also experienced this: "the car thought nobody could possibly still be sitting in it and promptly shut the radio down".

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:28am on 19 August 2011
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You see Minesh that's why there is a move back to retro classics. The modern over teched cars (along side tolls) have taken the fun out of motoring. Oh and of course the American classics have bench seats front and rear ideal for the drive in!!!!

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Ringmaster, wrote

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07:25am on 19 August 2011
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And if you happen to be a young couple... BEHAVE!!! or YOU will end up on the Sowetan front page.

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Real driver, wrote

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08:00pm on 18 August 2011
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What an article. I haven't enjoyed a motoring piece such as this in ages. Thanks for splitting my sides, I shall be sending you the doctor's bill.

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Anonymous, wrote

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07:47pm on 18 August 2011
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So when Mercedes says "The Best or Nothing", they're seriously not joking. Awesome article Minesh!

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JR, wrote

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04:05pm on 18 August 2011
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I love it..... The humour and technical write up was very funny. Thank you.

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