Those who know me, know how much I like to complain about the sheer number of times my car is in the garage. To be honest, it is almost once a month. And the money I’ve spent keeping it clean and tidy is very scary when you add it all up.
What do I drive?
An original (except the massive exhaust – I’m still a young guy-) 1990 Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI 8V. Yes, that is the PB model.
It was, and still is my first car and I love it to bits. It was not, however, the sane choice to make. People in my situation and age tend to go for something a bit more modern, more reliable and more comfortable. Seriously, when I look around the university, all I see are Opel Corsas or Renault Clios, all in fairly good condition, most with air-conditioning, and all with Bluetooth.
So why exactly did I buy a 21 year old car, when I knew I was going to use it every single day, and drive fairly ridiculous distances in it?
Simple, I don’t roll with the crowd. (okay that is a cliché, I apologise).
Or maybe I do, more than I’d admit it. You see, in every movie, the cool guy, be he a student, or an international thief drives an old classic car. Tom Cruise in “War of the Worlds” (okay I admit, not the best reference) drives a 1967 Ford Mustang, and then goes on to save the world pretty much. In “Pulp Fiction”, Vincent (John Travolta) drives a 1965 Chevrolet Malibu. Vin Diesel, in “XXX” plays a cool dude with an attitude, and what is his dream car? A 1967 Pontiac GTO. And what about the coolest guy ever? James Bond drives a 1964 Aston Martin DB5.
The fact is, to look cool; you need an old car, but not just any old car. If it is the USA, you need a classic 1960s muscle car. As I live in Europe (and am not rich enough for old European classics yet), I went for a more driveable and recent version of the muscle car, a more European version: A hot-hatchback.
Just as muscle cars were ruined by hot-rodder’s in the 1970s-80s, European hot-hatchbacks were ruined by modders (to stay polite) in the 90s. Now finding an original one is hard, yet if you do find the rare jewel, you are in for some fun, and will look very cool in the process.
Like muscle cars, hot-hatchbacks are practical and can be used to go to work on a Monday to Friday basis. Then on the weekend, you can go racing, or go for a drive and enjoy the wonders of the world. (muscle car owners, as they are in the USA, simply go drag-racing). The basic concept was the same, take an ordinary car and put a big engine in it. As this is Europe, naturally our muscle cars are smaller. And more economical. And front-wheel drive. Getting a hot-hatchback now is a good thing, because they can still be used every day, without having to overhaul the engine every 10 miles.
And the feelings are totally different to a modern car.
Because these types of cars are based on your every day run-around, they look totally unassuming to the untrained eye. Only connoisseurs will recognise that you are not in an ordinary Golf. And that is understatement, which is cool. However, if for some reason you find yourself pursued by brain hungry lions, you can simply press the gas pedal and of you go flying, leaving the dumbstruck amateurs behind, wondering what just happened. And just knowing that does tend to keep a smile on my face.
So that’s why muscle cars are cool. So why drive an old car in general then?
There is something to driving an old car that makes every journey special, especially in my car. Every morning when I turn it on, I am always greeted with this huge bark as the engine wakes up (and half the neighbourhood in the process), then the rev-counter goes up and down, trying to decide where it wants to idle. Will it be 1,500rpm today, or simply 800? (always reminds me of that scene in “Gone in Sixty Seconds” (2000), when Nicholas Cage start’s the Mustang’s engine) Once on the road, you have the choice to be relatively quiet and civilised, or for some added fun, you can press the loud-pedal, and you are greeted with a symphony of sound and vibrations. You genuinely do feel that the car is alive and talking to you. No mufflers here. It is all just pure sound. The experience, itself, neither has any mufflers on it. Driving along the road, the car always lets you know exactly where you are, and how you are doing. You are in control, not the computer doing 80% of things, and letting you do the rest. That’s what a cool guy is by the way, always in control.
And because it is an old car, you are always on the edge of you seat, trying to anticipate what will go wrong. It is still, after all, an old car and every part will not last forever. Each journey is not but a mere trip, but a genuine adventure! Moreover this keeps you awake all the time, you never feel tired in an old car. You are either filled with adrenaline, or fear, depending on the situation.
Driving an old car shows people that you care. You did not buy it simply because you had too. You chose this car carefully. And you have to care to keep it, and you, on the road. Honestly, I get more sympathetic smiles and comments in my Golf, than in my mother’s Hyundai i10.
Put it this way: You do not drive oldschool because you have to go from A to B. You drive oldschool because you want to go from A to B.
And that is why I drive oldschool.