For the love of motoring…

Posted: March 17, 2011 in Opinion
Tags: , , , , ,

So I’ve been reviewing what I’ve been writing on the blog, and I think it’s about time for another opinion piece.  I figured that this would be a good time to explore just why I enjoy motoring so much.

If I’m honest, this is going to be difficult to explain without sounding completely vacuous.  Hardcore journalists would argue that writing about cars is a generally vacuous exercise, as I discovered when I visited Hong Kong’s FCC (Foreign Correspondents’ Club).  A couple of people had asked me if I was a journalist, and if so what did I enjoy writing about.  I answered as truthfully as I could and said that I just enjoy writing, but that motoring journalism is a hobby of mine at the moment.  Some met this with scorn, as they felt that I should be fulfilling the grandiose and romanticized stereotype of a journalist: hiding behind bullet-ridden walls in Godknowswhereistan, with only a microphone in my hand.  Call me unconventional, but if I ever did find myself in a war zone, I’d want to be able to shoot back.

Those questions did prompt me to start questioning why I enjoy motoring as much as I do.  Is it just a blind faith in all things shiny and loud, or is it something more?  Maybe it’s something of profound, life-changing importance, or maybe just a fad?  I won’t lie; I was concerned that I wouldn’t like the answer.

Heading to the beach during Matric holidays...

Looking back, some of my favourite memories are closely linked with vehicular transport of some fashion.  For me, having a car, a motorbike, or even just a bicycle, was the ultimate freedom.  I grew up in Johannesburg, not the safest place for kids to be out roaming the streets and exploring the neighbourhood.  Don’t get me wrong, I was in a good neighbourhood with lots to do, but the area was still not very conducive to free movement.  Then, at the age of 15, I moved to a small town in the Western Cape of South Africa – Knysna.  What a glorious place this small tourist town turned out to be.  This was a chance to reinvent myself from the unpopular, awkward person in Joburg into a new and interesting person.  Whether or not this worked, I have no idea… I was too busy having fun.

At first, I rode my bicycle wherever I could, and that was everywhere.  Knysna is a much safer town, where a teenager could easily go about by himself.  There wasn’t a hill I wouldn’t climb, or a friend that I wouldn’t visit.  Then a good friend of mine got a scooter, and so I would often hitch a ride.  We looked ridiculous, the two of us on this tiny 125cc Yamaha, but it got us everywhere, except for maybe the steeper hills where one of us would have to jump off and jog alongside.  When I say one of us, I suppose I mean just me, as it was his scooter and he always pulled rank.  When finally I could drive myself around in my little Fiat Palio, life was grand, and every weekend was a new adventure.

Then came university.  Easily the best four years of my life, where I’ve made friends that’ll be by me for the rest of my life.  And in this time we would often travel to the beach, or along the coast to discover a different place, to 21st birthdays, and so on.  The four-hour drive back home on holidays was an event in itself, warranting the purchase of several unhealthy foodstuffs, and a customized playlist for the journey.  To this day a song can still take me back to driving through the Tsitsikamma on my way home.

Just arrived for a canoe trip down the Kowie River - My baby, a 2000 Opel Astra 2.0L

So I guess you can say that my love for motoring stems from a history of positive experiences, coupled with a fascination for all things fast.  Top Gear, I won’t deny, has been a massive influence, having started watching the show when I was 13 or 14.  The trio of mad-driving and bad fashion opened my eyes to a whole realm of amazing and graceful engineering victories.  The fact that supercars exist is proof in itself that Man can produce something incredibly beautiful, powerful and joyous all in one casing.

Over seven hundred words later and I still feel that I haven’t been able to properly explain myself.  Maybe that’s just it.  Maybe I can’t explain it.  Maybe I just love cars for what they are.  And you know what?  I’m ok with that.


  1. news says:

    A insightful post there mate ! Thanks for posting !

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