I think we’ve established on these pages before that making predictions should be avoided, as with writing clichés, ‘like the plague’.
But, hell, I think I have found the future of recreational driving. I’ve just spent two days in a disused quarry with six off-road vehicles, for an article you can read next week. Obviously we did some serious, objective 4x4 testing, but also a fair degree of what is known in this game as gratuitous cockaboutery – and it was brilliant.
I’ve hardly ever had so much fun testing cars, in a career that basically consists of telling you how much fun cars are. It’s not often that we get to the end of two days’ photography and testing, either on the road or on location, when it’s late on a Friday, three hours from home, and think: “Shall we do a bit more, just for fun?”
And when we do think that, we’re usually at a race track, so we can’t, because the paramedics and the marshals and the track controllers have gone home, because the locals will complain about the engine and tyre noise, because we’ve already ruined a car’s brakes and taken its tyres down to the canvas, and because, frankly, I’m just relieved that every supercar has gone back into its box unbroken.
None of these thoughts trouble you in a disused quarry or an empty wood, where you can still have understeer and oversteer, and get air, at 15mph, bothering precisely no one. Unlike the person who moved near to Snetterton circuit and was amazed to discover that cars and motorcycles went round it not just during the week but at weekends, too, Nimbys near an old quarry will never even know you were there.
Driving is driving, entertainment is entertainment, and driving a 4x4 in a quarry is like choosing to drive a Morgan 3 Wheeler instead of a McLaren 675LT on a B-road. You get the same feedback, the same entertainment, the same messages, but nobody thinks you’re a git.
Besides, a day’s track driving might cost hundreds of pounds. A day in a wood or quarry might cost £25.
A couple of years ago I thought the Ariel Nomad might be the first among a series of cars that radically changes the way we enjoy the motor vehicle. Then I thought I’d exaggerated it. But now, I wonder, whether I was right all along.
Part 14 in an occasional series of ‘radio adverts made to irritate the bejesus out of people’, and step forward Eden Vauxhall – although it is far from the only, or the worst, protagonist of an awful trend. Furniture retailers are the worst at it. They take established ways of saying a price – a number, with ‘pounds’ said at the end – and replace it with a series of numbers strung together. Presumably to mislead you into thinking something isn’t actually as expensive as it would otherwise sound.
For example, did you know you can buy an Astra – or it might have been a Mokka, I forget – for only one-eight-nine a month, with a sixtwo-four-four final payment, making for a saving of three-four-three-five? No, nor me, and nor do I have a clue what that means, except that I want to scream, very loudly, about pounds. Just say the price. In pounds.