Modern life is rubbish!

2

Author: Martin PortPublished:

I drove a new car today. Lovely it was. Although I couldn’t for the life of me tell you exactly WHAT it was. Now I’m honestly not just being bigoted, small-minded, or trying to ‘up’ my classic credentials, but there are very few modern cars that get my blood-racing enough to make me take notice of the badge and the engine spec. As someone who spends 500-odd miles a week wrestling a 42 year-old Land-Rover or a 30 year-old Mini up the M3, my expectations of a new car are actually quite low. If the heater works before I leave the end of my road and the stereo picks up more than two radio stations without a bucket-load of interference then I’m a happy man. But not for long.

Maybe it’s my attention span. Maybe I’m not as easily satisfied as I thought I was, but it’s official – modern cars are bad for my health. If I’m anything over 20 miles into my journey and I’ve not started nodding, then I’m doing well. 30 miles in and I’ve usually cranked the windows open. 40 miles and I’m masticating madly on a piece of Wrigleys Extra and searching for drum’n’bass on the radio in an effort to prop up the eyelids for the last part of my commute. I should point out that my idea of good drum’n’bass is Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused with John Bonham and John Paul Jones giving it their best, but if it keeps me awake I’ll take whatever Radio 1 has to offer.

There is something to be said for the design of a new car. The seats are sculpted to fit your back rather than break it as in the slab-seated Landie. You can control the stereo with a flick of your thumb to a button on the steering wheel, rather than leaning hazardously into the passenger seat and stabbing at the volume control. Slip it into auto and you don’t need to even use your left foot – none of the relentless double-declutching involved in piloting the syncro-less Solihull special. And if you’re too hot, then a spot of mind-control will have the dual-climate system bringing down the ambient temperature before you know it. No need to pull over, hitch up the canvas sides and take a spanner out to remove the door tops. In fact, I’m probably more motionless than I am when I’m out for the count in my bed at night. Perhaps he final straw however, was when driving said ‘new car’ and I needed to pull off on a slight incline. Before I knew it, something was flashing on the dash and announcing that the ‘Hill Launch Assist’ was active. I remember when that used to be called a handbrake and some clutch control. Next thing I won’t need hands at all.

And all these spectacular advancements in technology and design are exactly why I, and so many others, choose to drive a classic for more than just the odd weekend outing. I don’t do it because I’m a martyr or because I’m trying to prove a point. I even own a new car (well, eight years old and 120,000 miles into it’s life). But I do it because I value my life and that of those around me. Staying alive for me is not just a number from the Bee Gees back catalogue, but something I aim to do by ‘enriching’ my life with the daily discomfort and challenge of commuting in a classic. And there must be something rather perverse about me, because I actually enjoy it – a little too much perhaps. Long live noisy, slow, draughty, smelly classics and perhaps I will live a little longer myself.

Comments

Johnmurrayhill

I wish I could say the same thing about my Ford Fiesta :'(

eddie124

You're right on the money, classics are much more involving, moderns are a spectator sport these days. Even engines aren't what they used to be, strangling legislation is driving the last few miligrams of excitement in them clear out the door.

I have a couple of moderns, all parked out front (the classics have the rights to the garage room) for my wife's service and family trips to any remote location.

But my daily driver is a 44 year old italian sports car, and I've loved every bit of our time together. And before that one there were countless others. I've never had a modern car registered to my name, been driving for some 20 years now, and the cars I call mine have all been classics.

In fact, the experience with moderns drives me so crazy I vowed to go even further back in time... and so I did. I've just bought myself a '32 Ford B (yes, a real one, not a fake) that I'm going to restore (ok, and modify just a bit... I'm a rodder at heart) for my own use. And while you may label me as insane, I'll drive the wheels off it anytime I can, and I've already decided that I'm going to stick with the mechanical brakes, no hydraulics here. They'll be improved where possible, but they'll stay true to their origins.

Classics are the only way we true petrolheads can stay alive and sane... the car as a mechanical entity designed as an extension of the driver is now officially dead, modern-day offerings being simple "transportation appliances" as I like to call them.

And living the classic life to the full, we'll have much more fun than those who keep them only for the occasional drive... a friend of mine says when petrol runs out, we'll have had more than our fair share of the fun. So we win.

Cheers, Eddie

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Hybrid?! Sure, I got a hybrid... it burns fuel and rubber!

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