On being a petrolhead

For those of you who don’t know me very well, the fact that I don’t drive and work in the area of transport and the environment may make you think that I am the sort of person who knits my own sandals and eats a lot of muesli.  You may think that I will disapprove of you for owning a car, especially if is anything that isn’t small and dull.

Apart from the fact that I am actually partial to a bowl of muesli for breakfast, you’d largely be wrong.  At the tender age of three I apparently stood in a car park and identified a “Volvo” and a “different sort of Volvo” and I have not grown out of that fascination for things with wheels.  This is perhaps why I love the fact that my brother’s first car is an original Volvo T5 and I have a friend who now drives a Saab convertible (contrary to what it looks like however, I do not necessarily have a fascination for all things Swedish).

If you were to tell me that your car got good fuel economy, I would be pleased.  Such things are certainly commendable.  But “pleased” is about all I could say.  It’s that or describing it as “nice.”  Somehow, deep down, it’s dull.

On the other hand, if you cruised past me in a TVR I would smile not just with my head, and not just with my heart, but probably with every fibre in my body.  It has soul.  You probably have soul.

Yesterday, a friend of mine got up early to take his TVR to London and drive through some tunnels.  With other people who had had the same idea.  I was jealous, and if you look at this YouTube video I found from a similar event in 2009 some of you may understand why.

Yes, it’s pointless.  But the noise!  The looks!  The acceleration!  I think I’d have exploded with excitement if I was there.  And perhaps I’d have also felt a tinge of pride that until recently there was a factory in Blackpool which made these things.

One day, we may all be scuttling round in electric vehicles which have to be programmed to make a noise so that pedestrians can hear them.  And whereas there are many good things about that future, part of me thinks that perhaps that it is actually the past which is bright.  And orange.



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