Monthly Archives: March 2009

Girl Cars, Boy Cars, Green and Wrong

According to my stats for this blog, I have at least one reader. Hello to you whoever you are! Thank you for reading and  I hope that I don’t upset you too much with the content of this weeks column.

That’s right, I’m going to talk about girls and cars. To be more specific girls cars and boys cars, now I can hear you sucking your collective teeth right now as you read this, but bear with me and try and hang on till the end, at least you will have something to rant about down the pub later.

So what makes a ‘girls car’ then? Well its a bit of a matter of opinion, there are a few we all agree on, but personally I see anything with a soft top as a bit girly whether it be a 355 or an MX5pinkydrift and everything in between. Others my see the MGF or Citroen C1 as a girls car. Pink is a BIG no no in the west, but a glance at the tuning scene in Japan will show that’s just not the case. Just look and enjoy the Sumo Power Nissan 350z drift monster.

This really does limit things a bit because I have a secret love of the little Honda Beat, and I am doing some bloke style accounting (a form of financial wizardry that men use to prove they can afford just about anything for £10) to try and get one. This poses a problem as they only come with a rag roof, so by my own definition I will be driving a girls car. It gets worse because there are hints and rumours that Rover (old man’s car maker) talked to Honda (old peoples cars) and asked them to design a small two seater roadster, prior to the introduction of the MGF (Girls car made by old man’s car firm)

Rover MGF

Sexy Lil' Beat

Now Beat owners will howl and call foul for this tho I got this information from a Beat owners club member, and if you look hard at the rear of a Beat then a glance at the rear of the MGF looks worryingly similar. So I’m stuck wanting a girls car that was requested and dropped by an old man’s car firm. Pah, I still want one, despite all the jeers I will get. Still it could be worse I could drive an MPV!

MPV’s are a little harder to pin down, you can’t really call them ‘girly’ but even worse ‘Family’ or ‘Mumsy’.  I really don’t understand it tho, because as I have said before it doesn’t matter what car you have, the distance between driving a car or walking or even worse taking the bus is measured in light years, buses are for old people and schoolchildren and neither of these groups should be allowed behind the wheel of a car anyway. Think of this, if I was to take away your car for a week, by Friday you would be quite prepared to let me fiddle with your sister in exchange for the keys to my Lada. The only exception to this is the greeney environmentalist types who love taking the black smoke belching, badly maintained bus than kill a few daisies driving a car, well I have news for you lot, I wouldn’t want to fiddle with your sister as she probably has a beard and eats grass.

The personal joy and freedom, even in this age of tolls, speed cameras, potholes and traffic jams that a car brings is insurmountable. Everyday that you get in and drive you should be thankful that you are not stranded at a bus stop waiting with a bunch of 15 year olds who are trying to smoke and spit at the same time desperatly looking for a bus that’s been cancelled. So how come we have become so sniffy over what type of car, and what its owner keeps in the trouser department? Ok there are some obvious differences, Ford Mondeo and Ferrari 430 come to mind but on planet reality the Mondeo kicks the Fezzas arse into next week so the Ford is the better car, right?
I hate this concept of ‘better than’ I’m not saying you shouldn’t be aspirational, of course there is a car of my dreams just like there is one for you but all this ‘girls car, hairdressers car, French car stuff has to stop. Worry more about the bloke behind the wheel than what it is he is driving (unless its a tiny French hatchback with cardboard stuck to it, then feel free to laugh your head off)

All of the above is meant to provoke a little, even if it just gets a few of you banging the table down the local, but remember to enjoy your cars folks, what ever it is you drive, soon the environmentalists will suck all the fun out of it, the fuel will be taxed so high that we will all swap to g-wiz or worse the Prius and we wont be driving cars any more we will all drive milk floats.

Oh and as a foot note, I want a yellow Beat, that not only makes me girly, but mad as a box of soapy frogs too, anyone who owns a yellow car is a certified nutcase.

Honda Beat

Honda Beat

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New cars, to redress the balance.

In the interest of balance and to show I’m not bitter about not being able to afford a new car, today  I will discuss the benefits of new car ownership.

There is nothing worse than matching paint to fabric, as wife drags you round B&Q on a Sunday telling you how well the ‘chocolate fudge’ (vinyl matt) goes well with ‘woodblock chintz’ (available by the meter) then after you pile it in the boot of your dull brown boxmobile of a rep car, you have to put it on the walls while she runs up the cushion covers.

Not so when you are buying a car, especially when its your own money, and  especially when you  don’t have to worry about fitting the kids/dog/DIY inside. Pouring over brochures, matching metallic blue to black interior with the gold alloys and colour coded bumpers is pure heaven.

New cars are better than old cars, no doubt about it, if old cars were that brilliant then they would still be being made. New cars are safer, cheaper to run and more stylish than any of the old cars and there is the purest pleasure of you being the only one that has driven it.
Why do you think people suck their teeth at a second hand car, even with full service history, if it has 10 owners? Who knows what those 10 have been like? 9 of those owners may have driven it like the local Vicar, but one may have been a takeaway eating, 20 fag smoking, meet-Sheila-on-the-backseat-for-a-bit-of-slap-and-tickle-every-Friday type of guy…nasty. Nope a new car is yours, all the crumbs from Ginsters finest that find their way down the crack between the seat is all you.
New cars give you power too, from the fawning salesman (if you don’t believe me, go for any test-drive right now and make positive noises, he will throw in a weekend with his wife and sister if he thinks you will sign on the dotted line) to the appreciative noises from friends and relatives (watch out for jealous neighbours with keys…) and even , because I have seen this, there are  people who point at the latest registration number ‘Oooo! You will never belive it! I saw a Ford Fiesta with an 09 reg plate!’ beware of these people, they lick windows and keep tins of Spam as pets.
There is a bit of a downside. Cars are expensive and unless you have a nice rich uncle who has just popped his clogs or you happen to be a Banker (!) Then you are either going to have to finance it on the never-never or save up and eat beans for three years to buy the base model Perodua, which we all know is made in a jungle clearing. So you are restricted by price a bit, but that’s not all bad, wander around with £10,000 at your disposal and you will be very pleasantly surprised what you can pick up. No I wont tell you, go look if your thinking about it. Start with the new Mini and see (at time of writing) all the extras they will give you. The downside is the choice. At this level, most of the cars are very very  similar, choose the wrong one and you are stuck with ten grands worth of mediocre metal, the same as everyone else, might as well settle for the Vauxhall (any will do, well except the Monaro, but that does’nt count as its really a Holden with an American Chevy V8 under the bonnet) Happily however, there are a few that stand out.

Alfa Mito

The STUNNING Alfa Mito

For me it’s the Alfa Mito, lots of fun in a small package and not a German in sight, but there will be a ton of you shouting at the screen all different makes and models, that’s good! Its great to see there are still cars being made today that excite us. Cars should be driven and enjoyed, Vauxhall have kindly provided a whole range of very dull cars to move kids and sales reps around  leaving room for more interesting stuff like the new VW Sirocco, the Alfa Mito (sorry I love it)

Materia

Materia

What about the Daihatsu Materia? Have you seen it? Its brilliant! it’s a re badged Toyota bB that was only available in Japan, I saw one of these in the Toyota  showroom in Tokyo in 2007 and I loved it. Go grab a brochure from Daihatsu and take a look, even if you don’t buy one it’s a great read. I just hope it doesn’t go the same way as the poor old Suzuki Wagon R and the Honda Jazz, two funky and fun little cars that have been stolen by the old  folks home.

Titfer Tat
I also mentioned last time I would discuss hats and driving, but on reflection there is no need to go into much detail. Any decent driver will know that wearing a hat whilst driving is always bad news. If it’s a straw hat then the driver is over 70, in a Rover (or wagon R) and doing 27 mph looking at an interesting clump of trees and not paying attention to the poor guy behind him who is slowly pulling the steering wheel off in frustration, or if it’s a baseball cap the guy is driving a small French hatchback with bits of cardboard glued on to add ‘down force’ so the tiny 0.01hp engine has to howl even louder from the baked bean can super glued to the stock exhaust, it’s a well known fact that your IQ decreases the longer you wear a baseball cap, some people have worn them so long they cannot remember how to put them on, this is the only reason I can fathom for hats being worn askew or even back to front!
Of course the worst person to wear a hat in a car is our friendly neighbourhood Rozzer, who by just putting it on as he gets out of the car after stopping you can create all sorts of bowel loosening and tummy upsets.

Nope there is only one hat to be worn while driving, and that’s a crash helmet, ask Sebastian Loeb.

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Cars and Pornography

I don’t want to cover too many points in this weeks blog, mostly because I need to have something to write about for the next year or so, but as the title suggests, this could go off in all different directions. I’ll try to keep it focused but I’m sure some sort of lacy undergarments will feature in due time.
In this modern age where everything is disposable, the nearest the average bloke gets to a new car is the brown or white box supplied by a sweating fleet manager, usually moved along with a diesel engine. None of this matters because there is just nothing like a new car to cheer someone up, even if its one of those hideous City Rover things, remember them? No? Well trust me they are horrible and if you own one then I’m sorry but you can really do better. A 10 year old Escort springs to mind.

A new car, no matter what it is, looks, smells and feels wonderful, if you haven’t had to pay for it. It doesn’t matter that as soon as its driven off the forecourt its worth about 5p because of some weird and mysterious force called depreciation. But if its your hard cash that’s bought this shiny new box on wheels then depreciation becomes all important. Lets look at that for a second. Think hard about it. You buy a car, arguably the second most expensive thing you will ever buy. You look after it, you replace bits that wear out. You clean it, and still its worth nothing a year later, all that money gone. Different case with houses, if I buy a house now and paint the insides lime green an purple it will still be worth more than I paid for it. Why is this? Its the same car, just as its the same house, its just been used by me.

I am amazed that the big super car manufacturers (and if I’m honest the ‘normal’ manufacturers too) sell anything other than overnight bags with embroidered towels, when you can pick up one of last years models, and spend the money that you saved on some nice monogrammed bathing acessories.
Its weird though, the cars made way back when everything was black and white are worth appalling amounts but even the lowliest £500 auto trader bargain will out perform it and give you a nicer more reliable dirve. ‘Ah’ I hear you cry ‘but those are classics, and should be respected’ errm yes but are you are telling me a Bugatti found in a barn is worth £3million, (without the restoration) when you could pay a third of that for a Veyron and still cruise Europe blowing the remaining 2 mil? Umm nope sorry can’t see it. But you can pick up a seriously decent car, say a 6 series BMW made in 1986, something that cost a small bungalow to buy then, but you can get for pin money and cruise around at weekends enjoying the sublimely built Ultimate Driving Machine, smiling the smile of a man who saved himself a bucket load of cash by not buying new, good news for us but bad news for the dealers.

So what’s the point of all this and how does it relate to pornography? Well its simple, most of us settle for what we can get, a nice Ford Mondeo or such like. We are the same with our partners. Now unless you are amazingly lucky you wont marry a salivating nymphomaniac that will retain her/his amazing looks, have a brilliant personality and be as faithful as a sheepdog. No Ferrari for you mate, you are stuck in your Mondeo/Golf/Vectra (well maybe not..) Some of us get lucky and fall for the girl that has great personality, is fun to play with and isn’t bad looking (I’m thinking new mini here) or you find yourself in lust with the drop dead gorgeous girl who lets you down every time its cloudy (Alfa anyone?)
So how do we all survive this? Well luckily there are programs like Top Gear to offer us some relief, just as a decent viewing of ‘Debbie does Dallas’ relives us in other ways, the fantasy of a sex craved girly in just a pair of lacy pants that will do anything to please you. Good ol’ TG will serve up autoerotic cars zooming all over the place in clouds of tyre smoke, racing across the prettier parts of Europe, or spending our money to arse around in cars that don’t belong to them. Dreamland for most of us.

This is all quite depressing, but there is a way out, look hard at the car in your life, find a decent road to drive down ‘just for the hell of it’ go out at 4am when there’s no one about and watch the sun come up, give it a clean (it will run better, that’s a scientifically proven fact), buy it a new stereo, in short treat it as if it WAS a Ferrari and see how much pleasure you can squeeze from it when it stops being a tool and you remember just how amazing cars really are. Then take a good look at the girl in your life and maybe treat her to a bit more attention and care and see where that takes you.

Next week, in the interest of balance, how good a new car really is, and what to do about hats?

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Down, but not out!

This morning I received an email from a nice man at a local newspaper, rejecting my application to contribute to the world of motoring journalism. Undeterred, and through tears of rage and disappointment I have turned my eye to the Interweb and founded my own column. Of course all this will become copyrighted to the first magazine/newspaper editor who snaps me up to write for their publication!

So, where to begin? Do I reg ail you with yarns of my motoring history? do I comment on the way of motoring in 2009? Maybe a dip into motor sport (the only kind of sport really, running about in a field for a bit then having a sponge bath together doesn’t really count as sport) I think a mixture of all would be great, and I’ll steal stories from motoring cronies that I know of, cronies that wont sue me at least.

I passed my driving test 1 day after my 18th birthday, and that’s a long time ago. I got my driving license 2 weeks before my 16th birthday, so when i turned 16 I was ready to set out on the road with my first motorised vehicle, a bright yellow FS-1E moped, complete with pedals, top speed? well faster than my 10 speed Raleigh I can tell you that! It was complicated tho, you had to pre-mix the 2 stroke oil with the petrol in the right amounts. this was FAR to complicated for my 16 year old brain that had to cope with hormones, noticing breasts, what was cool music wise (this was the 80’s) and holding down my YTS computer programming job in Penge, South London (a journey of about a million miles from my house astride a 1970’s 50cc engine…)
It came to pass that I killed the Fizz through a combination of Death Hill (the one outside Brands Hatch, that they re-named Gorse Hill, pussies…) and getting the oil ratio all wrong. When I pulled the engine apart (that took about 3 days) the piston was just…gone. So a new bike was needed, Kudos to Stan Stephens Motorcycles in West Kingsdown for allowing me to put a shaky signature on a HP form, guaranteed by my poor Dad, and my relationship with Yamaha, and its RD series was born.

I took delivery of a black RD50MX with gold alloy wheels and front disk brake but the best bit was the rev counter, I spent more time looking at that than looking at the road.

I could go on but I think small chunks of my history, with a little more anecdotal content would be best, so I will continue dropping my old cars and bikes in as and when I think you wont die too much of boredom.

Right then, lets kick off with cars and the morning school run.

The gauntlet of mothers, most of which have a fetish for toweling leisurewear, is just about bearable. But the post bell drop off is a nightmare of cigarette smoke and sailor talk. Woe betide any hapless parent that has arrived late, because through these harridans of tax credit and welfare they have to drag their uniformed offspring. It would be ok if these mothers made it past the gate; but no, the fags are between yellowed fingers already as the bell rings.

Worse to come is the drive home, as 50 cars ranging from 4×4’s to rusty crapmobiles jockey to leave at the same time, driven by people more interested in the cover of hello! magazine and whats going to be on this mornings ‘Trisha’ than actually looking where they are going. I find it better to sit, wait and observe the carnage as an old and shrunken man drives his tiny electric mobility scooter into the middle of this maelstrom.
Funnier still is the adjacent supermarket carpark, with cars going forward, backward and sometimes nowhere as the hoop-earinged drivers stare at eachother wondering what on earth to do next. This worries me a lot. I have to use this school and the supermarket daily and what goes on near the space I have left my beloved car while I am not there makes me shudder to think. If I had bought a new car I think i would either smother it in bubble wrap or walk.
Luckily my car isnt new but it is mine and i object strongly to the tiny round dents that pepper the doors from over large toweling covered bottoms trying to squeeze through the ample gap I have left to open the door.

Then there is the horror of the shopping trolley, coupled with the inattentiveness I have already mentioned, because said harridan has now managed to purchase hello! magazine along with 200 of the cheapest cigarettes that the kiosk can offer, and is making her way like a missile toward my car focused solely on how Brad and Angelina might break up and how she would take him off her hands ‘coz she finks he iz lush’. All the pointy bits of the trolley, loaded down with value pizza and 1000 cans of value beans are bearing down on my front bumper.
I could shop at another, more upmarket supermarket, or send my kids to a private school, but in the carpark my car would still get scratched but by an older and blinder shopper and would be totally obliterated at the school gate under the wheels of all those middle class Range Rovers.

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