Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Car Post (Not For Girls)

Ladies, this is about cars. Feel free to ignore it, maybe go off and do some ironing or something, as you won't understand most of the technical bits. In a few days' I'll write one about recipes and cats for you but, in the meantime us men have to talk.

As I was driving into work yesterday morning I thought about my car and how I've been lucky in that the last four or five cars I've had have been brand new ones.

After several years of driving around in company cars, each of which had done so many miles that the clocks looked as if they were saying long words that sounded like "oooooooooooo", when I finally got to the position of owning the company myself and being able to buy a car I wanted a new one.


Well, I wanted to be the person who picked up that brand new car, drove it out of the showroom and watched it depreciate as I did so. I wanted to be the person whose bum caused the driver's seat to sag just that little bit, the one whose fingerprints made little grimy marks around the steering wheel and gear lever. Then, when all this happened, I wanted to be the person who sold the car and bought a new and spangly better one. But, above all, I wanted to be the person who had months of driving a car with that delicious new car smell, the one that never comes back once it's gone.

Soem years ago I made one of those "I'll never walk on the cracks in the pavement" vows regarding my future car purchasing. As I tell you this you may, just may decide that I'm not quite the eco warrior you had thought I was. My vow was that I would always buy a car that is quicker than the previous one. It's a bit shallow I know, hardly up there with vows made by people who pray fervently to their God (s) or diligent craftsmen who train for years and don't eat cheese.

But it is my own little promise and by "quicker" I mean the 0 -60 time. The top speed matters, but not so much. If I lived in Germany I suspect I'd be far more concerned whether my car could hit 140 or 142 mph than I am now. As things are my current one is limited to 155 mph and the fastest I've ever driven is about 125 in it. Innit. At 125 everything becomes small, quick and a bit surreal. Also the people walking on Hounslow High St didn't seem too happy about it.

Making my acceleration vow was quite easy in those days because I drove a Citroen Xantia 2.0. It took about five weeks to hit 60 mph and had that mad suspension thing that made passengers feel seasick. You could raise the car by about 6 inches to drive through things that were 6 inches higher than normal roads. I guess, were I to drive through a field of men, each lying down with an erect average size willy, then it might have been useful. It never happened. Maybe these things happen in France all the time but over here they're infrequent. I think I've only seen it once actually.

The next few cars were all quicker than their predecessor. I went to the VW/Audi 1.8 turbo engine. It's a nice pokey engine with a lot of horses, but I prefer the smooth power across the whole rev range from a fuel injected engine to the sudden donkey kick in the pants feeling from a turbo.

Then it was the turn of the BMW 2.8 straight six. It was a beauty. I loved the smoothness of the six cylinders, the sheer power and feeling of excitement that could have easily seen me lying down in one of those French fields with a Citroen Xanti driving over me.

The current Rhythmic throbber is the BMW 3.0i straight six. It's hardly a supercar engine but it kicks out 230 horses and hits 60mph in just over 6 seconds, when driven by someone other than me. To me it's a little piece of engineering ingenuity, though quite big, particularly compared to a grain of rice or an atom. It's not vastly different to the previous engine, just a new and improved model. Faster, quicker and bigger. Also, I can balance a coin sideways on the engine block while it's idling. How cool is that?

And it's now almost 4 years old, which traditionally means that I should begin to think about the replacement. This is where the problem lies. I really like this car. The other day, when my parents were away, I jumped into my Dad's Audi A6 and took it for a spin around the block. It's a nice car, one that many would be chuffed to own, including me. Well I lie, I wouldn't be chuffed to own it, I was just being nice there.

My car, with its iDrive and minimalist interior of black and stainless steel, feels sleek and understated. The iDrive is something I think could do with a lot of improvements and I vaguely recollect that newer ones have been improved but, when I sit in it, I do feel that its simplicity and design are both good looking and functional. It's a bit like the automotive equivalent of a Mac.

By comparison, sitting in my Dad's A6 was like jumping into the reject department in a red LED factory in the dead of a particularly dark night. The centre console was a mass of red and orangy glowing things and confused me to buggery. I'm the 42 year old quick witted and smart thinking bloke that you've come to know and love, a bit of a car enthusiast at that. So, if these lights confused me, then it's no wonder my Dad always listens to the same radio station and never changes the temperature in the A6. It's hardly surprising that he thinks there's a radio station called Radio 29 degrees C (that would have been funnier if I knew how to get the little circle sign to denote degrees).

Also, being a drummer (I'm not sure if I've ever told you that before) means that I need to own a car that can fit a drumkit in and being a father means that I need to be able to fit the two girls in the car, even though it's not that often. This rules out the option of some fast and expensive 911 or similar, unless I could get one with a trailer of some sort.

At the traffic lights near Richmond Bridge this morning, you know the ones, I sat in my motor and thought that I rather like this one. It feels good and comfortable and familiar. Maybe I'll keep it for a while. Could it be that I've got to a stage in my life that doesn't mean I feel that need for something better, faster or newer?

No, bollocks. I think I still want that M5.


surani said...

Ah! mid-life crisis.

N said...

But have you seen the new body style for the Audies? Wowza! Admittedly I haven't seen the inside of one yet...I still like zippy Japanese tuner cars myself:)...I hit 138mph once in my old RSX, quite the interesting experience I must say!

ViceUnVersa said...

Machan the new Merc 180C Kompressor in Black - Absolute beauty! I know you're hardcore Bimmer but just check it out, lovely new grill and looks incredibly sleek.
Some of us of course can't be driving new cars off the lot, so we have to wait for a couple of years for the tag to reduce! Hmph...

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Surani - My mid life crisis was ages ago!

N - Yes, I do love the exterior look of the new Audis, though I feel that the lines are a bit feminine looking on some.

DD - I will have a glance. I'm fundamentally against the idea of becoming a one marque man so may seriosuly consider a Merc next time. Good morning to you too!

ViceUnVersa said...

Bravo re: Merc consideration!


Good morning!


PS: Grey background rocks!

A Virile Nagalingam said...

Spyker all the way!

There's a company in Georgia (US) that makes a 2,000 lb. + line of all terrain vehicles. Advertised as capable of being dropped from a plane and then being able to drive away. Think of the longing looks you'll get as you crush a Mondeo or two at a circle-change!

Anonymous said...

I got my Lexus Hybrid last week, absolute beauty and drove home from the lot, have not stepped into it since. Miss Fukuoka has this excuse of leaving her job (?) that she needs my car (??). My bro is a BMW fan but he got 750Li 'cos of new addition to his family. I have been happily riding my bike up and down to campus.

David Blacker said...

The Merc SL65 Black looks really fantastic (assume that's what DD means), and is said to be a total fantastic drive, though the CLK Black's probably more sensible with its V8.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

AVN - an interesting thought, hope my drumkit would be okay after the fall though.

KS - Hmmm.. the 7 series doesn't appeal to me, too ugly and just not my thing I'm afraid. But, the Lexus looks lovley, I hope you get to drive it when the good Japanese lady finally lets you!

DB - Will check this out for sure.