Not waving, but driving

| 6 Jun 2011

It didn’t take me very long to realise that the car full of teenage girls heading towards me wasn't waving enthusiastically because I was young, attractive and available. Yes, I was 18 – it was a very long time ago! – and yes, I was technically available, but it soon dawned on me that this was nothing more than recognition for the fact that we were all travelling in cars sporting the ‘bull motif’ up front.

I had only recently got my Morris Traveller through an MoT and wasn’t quite prepared for the show of affection that other owners would express. I say affection – considering that my previous encounters with other drivers had usually resulted in less tasteful hand-gestures meant that a friendly wave and a smile was the equivalent of them stopping for a lingering hug on the hard shoulder.

In the years that have passed since that first instance, it’s fair to say (and probably sad to admit), that the thrill of getting a wave from a fellow classic driver is still there. In the Minor it was a beaming smile and a lot of arm waving. In the MGB it was a simple raising of whichever hand was positioned at the top of the steering wheel – more of a sporting gent’s gesture. Perhaps there would be a nod too. In the Porsche 912, it was usually drivers of modern 911s that positioned themselves alongside on the motorway, offered a ‘nice, but not as fast as mine’ nod and downturn to the sides of the mouth before accelerating away, while in the Land-Rover, the wave has turned into a subtle raising of one finger as vehicles pass.

Perhaps one could equate the change in public show of recognition directly to the ‘business-like’ attitude of the vehicles. After all, the majority of Land-Rovers on the road are merely going about their day-to-day business, so subtle acknowledgement for also choosing ‘the best 4x4’ is probably more appropriate than a lot of bouncing up and down for a cute and friendly classic perhaps reserved for weekend outings with the family.

The difficulty comes with models that are part of a marque evolution. Do Defender drivers wave at Series Landie owners? If you drive an MG6, do you wave at an MGB? The bottom line however is that the ‘classic wave’ is a good thing. To wave is to effectively say that ‘you are not alone’ – that if the waver or wavee was stranded at the side of the road, you would pull over and offer a hand, and to suggest in one simple motion that your experiences, pain and joy are all shared.

The world has always had an odd obsession with strange topics of research: do gorillas cheat when playing games? Are Russians happier than Americans? Does a beard make you untrustworthy? All subjects of research that have been examined over the years, but I’d like someone to finally take on the biggie: which classic car marque and model has the ‘waviest’ owners? Anyone fancy taking that on for their PhD?