You can keep your exotica

I think that yesterday neatly summed up who I am. I was incredibly excited to get the chance to drive a vehicle that would struggle to set a good lap time on a race track. I was thrilled to drive a machine that made the National Speed Limit seem like quite a challenge.

As enjoyable as a Porsche 911. To me, anyway...

As enjoyable as a Porsche 911. To me, anyway…

I see rather too much pant-wetting excitement from people who’ve had the chance to drive something really fast. Sure, even I am not immune to the spine-tingling power delivery of a TVR Chimaera, but even in one of those, I find the thrill doesn’t take long to wear off. When you’re not testing your neck muscles in a race to 60mph, you find yourself driving a car with not enough suspension, poor visibility and a driving position that while comfortable, requires some ambition and flexibility to reach.

Sod that. I want something that’s easy to drive these days, and preferably comfortable. The Pajero Junior was a disappointment in the power stakes, but only because I’m used to the delightful flexibility of the 2.1-litre turbo diesel engine in my XM. I love having enough torque to accelerate, even in top gear. I’m not really interested in the 0-60mph time, but 50-70mph in top I find more interesting. You rarely see magazines quote such figures these days, but I seem to recall that an Escort Turbo Diesel could give an Escort Cosworth a run for its money in the 50-70mph dash in top gear – though the Cossie obviously does it much more quickly if you downshift. What a bore. It’s a far more useful measure of a car’s ability than 0-60. I mean, how often do you actually accelerate to 60mph from a standstill anyway?

But mostly, I just love getting my driving kicks from pretty much any car. I don’t wish to boast about powerful machines and I’ll get just as giddy about a Pajero Junior as I have previously about Jaguar E-Types or Porsche 911s. Maybe more so, because a Pajero Junior is a vehicle I can actually see myself owning at some point.

Perhaps I can stray too far the other way, and end up in the murky world of inverted snobbery. It’s certainly true that I do delight in dreadful cars. It’s just who I am. Just remember, simple things can provide a lot of pleasure. Trinkets and power do not necessarily deliver any real-world benefits.

4 thoughts on “You can keep your exotica

  1. I have to agree with you. Most modern cars are either bland-mobiles or unaffordable exotica. The latter I only ever see on Top Gear and is of little interest to me. I shudder to think of the really nice cars I could have had i.e. 2CV, Rover 3.5 saloon, Saab 900, VW Beetle. None of which would have satisfied SWMBO. I used to think there was something wrong with me because many of the cars I liked, and really wanted, were underdogs i.e. Lada 1200, Moskvich 412, Wartburg Knight, Skoda 110 or Estelle. You get the picture. Sadly I never got my hands on any of these little beauties. Perhaps just as well. They probably wouldn’t have lasted long. I admire your devotion to the 2CV and the Dyane. Not to mention that lovely little Nippa. There is something rather vulgar about new Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche ownership these days. A bit like waving your wallet around and showing everyone your monthly payslips! Ugh!

  2. Glad I’m not the only one! So much cheap machinery out there that I have no idea why folk pay more. Though I do often have a To Do list! Not like moderns are infallible though…

  3. Great article about who you really are. We have much in common. Although I’m not sure I hanker after a Pajero Junior, I get far more thrills from the ‘impression’ of speed than speed itself. Cranking a Citroën Dyane round a corner at 30mph is a real hoot. At this point I should say that I have a distinct prejudice against (most) people who drive big, thirsty, expensive, pointless 4X4s. This has much to do with their on-road arrogance (too well ‘insulated’ against the outside World for consideration of other road-users?). There’s a degree of ‘green thinking’ coming over me now as well (I’m very interested in your EV exploits). I’m just about to get my wife’s Orange Tenere Dyane back on the road. Our ‘Daily Sensible is now a C3 Picasso diesel – which I really like driving. 60mpg and £30 road tax helps that. I’ll probably have to sell one of the Dyanes and the 1968 ID19 next year (down-sizing house), but I’ll die before selling the DRK (the biggest hoot of all, as you know).

    Keep up the good work,
    Dan Fletcher (Dyane 4×4, Dyane – standard 1975, ID19, DRK 3-wheeler)

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