Maverick Life


Petrolheads and the joy of driving

Petrolheads and the joy of driving
Images from Unsplash

‘It’s about those times when the road opens up and the weather is playing ball and the right music happens to be on and for a few moments the sheer magnificence of what it is to be moving under one’s own power under one’s own control takes one’s breath away,’ writes William Kelly as he makes his case for petrolheads.

I got to thinking. An unusual past time for me, I’ll concede, but when these glacial processes eventually do take place quite often a fairly strong opinion will emerge.

And so it has come to pass. I have… An… Opinion…

Firstly, a bit of background to set the scene.

It’s big question time. It’s the “Why are we here?” loose rationale, the “Why do we do this?” philosophical talking points, the cut to the very core of the central tenet of our religion – and it is, of course, “Why are we petrolheads?”

Shudder. Gasp. Nervous twitches and hushed silences…

It is perhaps the most important question about the love/hate relationship that we have with cars – the crux, the alpha and the omega of what driving cars is all about. Many will say it’s freedom – the ability to simply get in and go somewhere else from you where you were before you got in and went.

Others will say it’s a means to an end, a necessity to the drudgery that is modern day life and trudging off to a job that pays the bills and puts your children through school so that they can get a job and send their children to school – that the car, is in fact, the enabler of the cycle of dreary existence that the Man has put in place to keep us all under control.

Well of course it is. The great thing about being a petrolhead is that even with the increasing crackdowns and enormous taxes on being just a “motorist” these days – apart from being a cog in the government tax machine – is that we already know all this. And we don’t care.

We don’t care because cars still allow us to get into them, to take control, to harmonise mind and body with a complicated mechanical thing, binding us together in a common fate, man and machine, for common purpose – the vacuous exercise of being somewhere where you’re currently not.

I put it to you, my petrolhead aficionado, that it is the connection between you and your car, the appreciation you can have for it, and indeed the genuine affection, devotion if not outright love that you have for your car(s) that is our common ground. We all know what we love in our driving experiences in our cars and even though we are all different in our views of them, we all share common traits of envy, respect, admiration and even utter hatred when it comes to cars.

We are united in that we all have opinions, even if some of those opinions are about non-petrolheads who “don’t get it”. I don’t understand how anyone can’t be a petrolhead if they have ever driven a car further than around the block and I have yet to encounter a human being who doesn’t have an opinion on cars, one way or the other.

Look, don’t get me wrong, many of them are obviously wrong and deserve relocation from the rest of society for (preferably) torturous attitude adjustment therapy, but as I get more mature, and giving, the natural mellowing of my character means I’ll tolerate dissenting opinions with a greater degree of accommodation that I would have, say, 10 years ago.

That said, there is something about control over a car that binds us to them. Yes, I get that safety is all-important and saving the pandas is more important than allowing a few more milligrams of emissions requiring ludicrous levels of heavy tech to make it all possible, and that more and more stupid people are getting behind the wheels of more and more powerful cars leading to more and more potential for truly horrific accidents. And I get that Darwin’s law is not universally applicable in that said drivers are not guaranteed a swift and direct route to a dancing Ghanaian send-off richly deserved, but that it is their victims who are likely to pay a terrible price for their ignorance of matters motoring – the consequences of their actions.


We lose something in the process. If motoring was solely about sitting in traffic contemplating one’s own navel fluff for hours at a time, back and forth to the job from the Man, Christ, I’d be the first one to off myself over a cliff in a Citroen (doing my part to rid the world of the blight, all 2CVs aside), but it’s not. It’s about those times when the road opens up and the weather is playing ball and the right music happens to be on and for a few moments the sheer magnificence of what it is to be moving under one’s own power under one’s own control takes one’s breath away. It really does. DM/ML


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