What is Automotive love?

Now given a header like that you’d think that I was going to wax lyrical about men, women and the many different criteria that Mother Nature brings to the party. We could talk about the biological and social drives that bring the sexes together and which in the fullness of time result in the presentation of offspring that continue the great genetic ladder race that is life.

But I’m not going to do that, it’s been done before, been done by people who are a lot more intelligent than me (although reading  Kinsey’s autobiography makes me wonder) and it’s quite simply futile.

Who you want to bonk and what the result is going to be is subject to so many different variables that scientists and sociology students are going to be exploring the subject for the foreseeable future. They’re probably going to be swopping spit in the shower and discussing government research grants for just as long.

I’ve just finished reading one of Jeremy Clarkson’s books (for those of you who are not fans of motoring, he’s the lead anchor of Top Gear, and do yourself a favour get one of the specials out, they’re great entertainment, try the Arctic Special).  The edition I just finished is a selection of his Sunday Times columns.

They made me think, everything you do is a reflection of your own personal taste, from the toothpaste you use to the shoes that you put on. A trip to the supermarket is an exhausting business, faced with a choice of cereal I’ll always defer to my seven year old daughter, that way I can’t be blamed and if pressed can point my wife in the direction of someone who is not intellectually equipped to defend themselves beyond pointing to the recommendations of cartoon characters.

I can simply hide in the loo with a good book.

But cars… We all need them to get from place to place, to get the groceries and take the dog to get dewormed.

It occurred to me that we all have dream cars. For some that means a car that would go from A to B as fast as possible, for some it means that unique expression of individuality, but what makes you fall in love with the very idea of a motor vehicle?

My significant other says that a Mercedes SLK would make her fall in love, make her wake up every morning and look forward to getting into the drivers seat. Fair enough I say, but this is a mass produced people mover, no matter what Merc wants you to think.

Put your foot down and it’ll go fast, no question. But love, I don’t think so. The same goes for most of the other German offerings. BMW, the same, any three series will have you in stitches. Readouts and handling will be brilliant, the M3 will have you thinking that your underwear neads to be changed.

Up the line S class Mercs and M class Beemers will deliver a flawless drive and excitement to boot, but would you walk out on a weekend and fall over the bonnet before you put the keyless ignition into action?

Great cars, Porsche, Lambo, even Ferrari in the 21st century deliver beauty and power, but for me you have to travel back in time to experience a love affair.

An E Class Jag came by me on the highway last week, sleek, shark like and outstandingly beautiful, personally I’d snuggle up to that nose any day of the week.

The newer Cobra replicas with the Jag running gear give me the shivers.

I pulled into a parking lot and parked next to a clasic Mini in concourse condition, apparently a terrible car to drive, but what a wonderful thing to look at, I felt like giving it a hug.

I saw a Merc SL 500 in a parking lot the other day, big, V12 version and I walked around it feeling as if I should lift a leg and pee on it, just to say that I’d been there.

I saw some poor soul driving a Morris Minor yesterday and I just wanted to stop my car and give them a hug for allowing the horrible thing an outing.

I even look at students taking their Beetles out for an airing and want to warn them not to exceed the speed limit (not that they could).

The point is, in these days when a Rolls Royce can be built on an Audi chassis and everything is beginning to look the same, we have to look back to find something that is loveable or perhaps even likeable.

Everything is beginning to look and feel like it’s made with the lowest common denominator in mind, and usually that’s cost. A couple of decades ago, passion was the driving force. It’s a time which I don’t think we’ll see again.


I heard it in the wind

After many months of dryness, dust and pollution Mother Nature has again rewarded our patience in South Africa with the first rains of the summer.


It was almost unexpected, and let me tell you now people where almost on their knees waiting for the rain.


And then, after a lot of sky gazing it finally happened, and if you read the following please don’t underestimate the effect that rain has after the long, dry Highveld winter…


A low growl in the South and an answer from the North came together slowly but certainly. And then a cataclysm of thunder and rain, washing away hard thoughts and doubts, bringing a softness of emotion that has been lacking for months.


This is the first time I think that I have heard anger in the wind. Perhaps it’s age but the first real storm seems to have a voice, and that voice is summer and in the first rains almost biblical.


It rips away the dust and dry air and stamps its authority on the Highveld.


Imagine a voice in the thunder, I heard it, and I bet you a lot of other Highveld people heard it as well, anyway I heard it in the thunder:


“Enough, you have kept these people under a yoke of dust and greyness, but this time is mine, be gone”


“Rejoice children, I am back and at least for this short while I will give you rain and thunder, I will make each evening sky light up and my voice will be heard in every home.”


“Many days will start with mist and fog, but this will soon clear and my son, the hot, hard sun will shine down on you and yours, the blue sky framing his beauty. Each evening I will calm him and set him to slumber with my lullaby of rain and a thunderous tale of age old love, which I have told him for ages, and if you listen carefully will do the same for you, for it is a cool and calming tale of sleep and care.


“I am the soul of Africa and you are my children, I have banished the cold and dust, I have sent my water to nourish you, this is my gift, feel your own hope spring into being once again in your hearts.”