When was the last time you reached the end of a decent drive in a car and just sat there, listening to the metal cool down, replaying the run in your head? I’d wager that, unless you own a very special car indeed, it was some time ago.
What has happened? First, there are external factors, be they social, geographic or environmental. Truth is, in the mistaken belief that it is speed rather than its inappropriate use that kills, it is increasingly frowned upon to enjoy driving quickly on suitable roads.
Second, as populations expand and cities sprawl ever outwards, we need to go ever farther away to find these roads and, third, when we do, they’re likely to be a whole lot more crowded so we’re less likely to make the effort. But there’s a fourth factor, too. And that is when we do bother to find the right road, although the cars we now drive are undoubtedly quicker and more capable than ever, something has gone missing.
It would be easy to give it a trite and catchy name like ‘the fun factor’; but that’s not it. Cars are fun today – great fun, in fact – but now they are also so damn good that it’s that sense of achievement which has been left behind, the pride felt in knowing that you did more than merely guide the car along the road. You controlled it. You tried to bend it to your will and your presence behind the wheel made a difference. It was not the car providing 100% of the talent because it was insufficiently talented so to do: it needed you as much as you needed it, meaning that you were in it together, a collaborative process leading to safe and memorable passage.