There are numerous car fresheners on the market such as Perk, Little Tree, or Febreze.The Globe and Mail

Every why has a wherefore. Effectus sequitur causam. Misfortune arrives on horseback and leaves on foot. I remind myself of these fundamental truths every time I enter an automobile that stinks. It’s important to remember that something caused the terrible odour and while it more than likely arrived in an instant, it is going to linger sickeningly for the remainder of my ride.

Cars are stink boxes. As well-ventilated as our modern vehicles are, they hold (nay, nurture) foul smells like nothing else. I’ve been in cars that reeked of wet dog, vinegary body odour, and could that be – oh, why yes, it most certainly is – day-old vomit. One of the pandemic’s few silver-linings was that masks provided a buffer between car-stench and passengers.

The only person impervious to car odour is the car owner. The one behind the wheel can’t discern their own automotive malodor.

So, when Dr. Vranjes Carparfum (fragranza per auto) offered to send me a sample for free, it seemed like a great opportunity to spruce up my ride. For starters, the fragrance comes from Florence and I am partial to Tuscan perfumes (I wear Santa Maria Novella), and besides, “Dr. Vranjes” sounds like a song by Steely Dan and I’m a sucker for Annadale-on-Hudson by way of a “mu major” chord.

Dr. Vranjes came in a smart black box that contained an octagonal carparfum and two scented refills (Rosso Nobile and Milano). I slapped in the Rosso Nobile attached the carparfum carbon fibre dispenser and was hit by a scent so strong I thought I might develop a migraine. This, however, was just the initial hit. After ten minutes, the scent mellowed and my car was blessed with notes of orange, berries, violet and magnolia.

It was a big step for someone who has never been a car freshener guy. I prefer my car’s “car” smell. Sure, I’ve had dalliances with the iconic “Little Tree” but the synthetic pine – immortalized in the movie Repo Man – never did it for me. Little Trees come in 42 different scents, such as “Royal Pine,” “America,” “Watermelon,” “No Smoking” and “Wild Hemp.” I wish Little Trees would make the following:

  • British Salt and Vinegar Chips
  • Resigned Bitterness Breeze
  • No Harm in Trying Fresh
  • KFC in the Distanceroma
  • Dream Eliminator Colada
  • White Truffle

Aside from Little Trees, there is a plethora of car freshener fragrances. Some have unsettling names. For example, the company Vilicci offers a “parfum de voiture” called “Montreal Romance” that boasts “opening notes of rich white flowers, Black Coffee and the sweet sensuality of vanilla.” Well, I’ve been to Montreal and I’ve had my share of romance and without going into too much detail, none of these experiences ever offered up “rich white flowers, Black Coffee and the sweet sensuality of vanilla.” Perhaps I need to go back to Montreal.

There are “sexy” car fresheners. Among them, the “GOHAN Meme Air Freshener – Funny Car Present for Women Men Him Her Dad – Novelty Gift – Fun Gag Joke Stag Hen Do Accessories Rude Prank Christmas Stocking Filler” which comes in the scent “Black Ice” and depicts two people engaging in a sexual act. Why anyone would want such an item is a mystery.

Bad smells are notorious. Every parent knows the whiff of “just-filled diaper.” Most undergraduates know the morning-after car-bound ramifications of midnight street meat or the two-in-the-morning pizza slice. And what newly divorced person has not savoured the soft aroma of “just back from the lawyers so now I’m late for work, spilled my coffee, flop sweats.”

I spent a week sampling Dr. Vranjes Carparfum. Ultimately, I preferred Milano’s peppery sandalwood over Rosso Nobile’s sweetness. I interspersed these two with in-car trials of Little Trees’ classic green “Royal Pine” and the quirkier yellow “Vanillaroma.” Royal Pine is by far the better scent – it essentially answers the question “What will Pine-Sol do after it retires?” I have no proof, but believe the revoltingly sugary “Vanillaroma” smells the way you’d imagine a Peeps flavoured marshmallow Easter candy would if you left it on a shelf for 75,000 years.

So, I’m left with a question: Do I become a car freshener person and keep pumping the Dr. Vranjes or do I return to my old car-freshener-free ways? I will have to let my senses decide. The nose knows what it wants.


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