A Simple Definition of Luxury Automobiles

Luxury automobiles are often categorized by their gadgetry, their power, their on-road presence, their comfort, or the hard-to-pin-down quality of inexhaustible ability; to never appear flustered in a journey, to always have more suspension or throttle travel than the driver could ever request from the automobile. There is, however, another measure of luxury – an extremely well-known rubric for appraising a car’s quality and one that perfectly captures the essence of what a luxury car should be.


Who knows?

Fine clothes /

Lexus doors you’ll be closin’

When you become one of the chosen/

So wrote 8Ball and MJG in 1995’s “Space Age Pimpin'”, a lyric I choose because it pares down the luxury car experience to its most visceral act – closing the door. It’s a test that every person performs to assess the worth and quality of a vehicle – the sound especially defines the solidity and precision of a car’s manufacturing.

In this manner, the closing of a door defines the quality of any vehicle, but so too does it quintessentially define the luxury of an automobile. Whereas sports cars are often described with the opening of doors – the first look into a cabin, the act of stepping inside into an (often small and isolated) realm of driving – luxury cars are described with the closing of doors. Why is this? The implication of closing the door of a luxury automobile is that you have arrived. The satisfying thunk is an affirmation of the worth and quality of the owner, about to enter some high-class affair or engagement.

MJG’s Lexus is completely devoid of any characteristics in and of itself – there is no mention of its leather interior or silent running. With this in mind, I propose that defining the ‘true’ luxury automobile has little to do with its qualities while in motion. The driving, curiously, is completely secondary in a luxury automobile. Mobility is only needed so that the luxury car may deposit the driver or passenger at a different location when it once more becomes stationary, an object built to sound out and ring the affirmative thud of a solid, resolute door.

Editor’s note: It should be noted that Autofrei does not stand by this one opinion on what constitutes luxury. In fact, the idea of solidity and restrained superiority as representing the trappings of luxury is a highly contextualized and symbol-laden snapshot of luxury. Many different and sometimes contradictory qualities can embody luxury. For instance, it would be hard to say that a 1995 Ferrari F50, with its if-you-have-to-ask pricetag and peerless badge, is not a luxury purchase. To spend that much on a 200 mile-an-hour symbol of wealth is luxury, just as a modern day Bentley is. The harsh ride, blaring noise, and constrained seating position of the Ferrari would be inexcusable in the Bentley, but they are both luxury cars. With these two cars as examples, one can see that there is no one definition of luxury, and that the door-closing theory is just one of many.

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