A week into 2020, yet already I am already bored of hearing about the new fad diet my colleagues are trying or the fact that this year they really will get into shape. New year's resolutions always follow similar trends, year after year, mostly to solve self-inflicted ailments over the festive period, lasting till about the end of January before you slowly sink back into your old ways. So, never mind your Christmas podge or the fact that you couldn't sprint 60 yards if your life depended on it, your real goals this year, in my opinion, should be car related.
When you think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense. You already love cars, probably already dedicate a reasonable amount of your time and well-earned towards them and spend many hours drooling over used car ads or the latest motor show pictures. Why not then, this year, take the chance and make your changes dedicated towards a new car, improving your own or maybe learning a new skill. This could be the chance to finally pull the trigger on the cars you have been eyeing up in the classifieds, it could be your last chance to jump on track before you get too old, sensible or festooned with too many children.
Here's just a few ideas of how you could dedicate the next 12 months or more to your next car goal.
You don't need to be this committed
Time for a Track Day?
These days track days are all the rage. It's simple too, just pay your entry fee, rock up in your road legal vehicle and have at it on track. The track is a place where you can take your own vehicle to limits that are just not possible or safe to find out on public highways. Taking your car to its limits will allow you to learn about the car itself as well as your capabilities as a driver. Track days are not especially cheap but are much cheaper than the possible speeding fines and will likely provide a full day's worth of entertainment, to save money you could always split the time between two drivers or choose an event at a smaller track or converted airfield.
A track day can end in multiple ways, a big hole in your wallet when you blow up your car, a big hole in your wallet thanks to getting in a collision with another car or a big hole in your wallet thanks to your new addiction. Whichever way you spin this, it is likely to cost you, but so will a gym membership or a bag full of golf clubs. What you can gain from a track day is much more impressive though, you will likely form a bond with your vehicle that you cannot find on the road, can improve your skills behind the wheel, who knows, you could even find some hidden talent you never knew you had.
This year, if you have never attempted one before, I recommend trying a track day, many are operated with specific sessions aimed at novice drivers and some will have the option of driver tuition with an expert to let you learn the ropes. A track day could lead you to meeting fellow, like-minded enthusiasts or just start you on the path to a serious racing addiction, more of which I will talk on later in the article.
Become a racing driver, for real
Enter a Customer Racing Series
More and more manufacturers are now offering their loyal performance car customers with the opportunity to step into a ready built race car and take on like-minded enthusiasts around the world's best race tracks. There is something available for lower budgets from Asian manufacturers such as the GT4 Supra above and the Hyundai i30 N TCR, with higher stakes and faster racing available from supercar manufacturers like McLaren, Lamborghini and Ferrari.
These series allow ordinary drivers to experience a real racing weekend, with the more expensive series offering full grand prix weekend style experiences complete with practise, qualifying and one main or multiple smaller races. So, if you've ever felt the need to experience the thrill of racing like a grand prix or GT3 driver than maybe this could be for you. This is the next level from taking your own vehicle on a track day, there will likely be expert tuition on offer and some series will even offer more serious limitations on the drivers such as minimum times required to race.
This is an expensive undertaking, there is no doubt about it, but there is no better way of getting into racing for those of us who are not blessed with the skills of Hamilton or Vettel, but do fancy our chances against the other Sunday drivers and track day regulars. There has never been more choice of manufacturers cups, with more levels right through from novice to expert currently available and all levels of vehicle from lightly modified hatchbacks to stripped out GT3 style supercars.
Something a little more realistic maybe?
Get That Dream Car
Maybe it's time, put aside the worries about impracticality, the cost implications or the opinions of your family, friends and better half. Maybe this is the year that you finally achieve your goals and buy that dream car, whether this is a holy grail supercar or the more realistic dream daily hatchback or saloon. People often choose sensible monthly payments or diesel models rather than taking the plunge and buying the car they've lusted for, 2020 is the time for change.
While most of us have that pipe dream supercar, the Ferrari, Lamborghini or Aston Martin, most of us will also have that more realistic car that we have been eyeing up for a while, but keep putting off. Maybe it's a hyper-hatch Golf R, that road rally Mitsubishi Evo or an old E46 M3 that you've fancied ever since you first laid eyes or ears on one. Cars like these can be had for much less than the nearly new 320d that you "should" buy but will provide thrills and satisfy that inner petrol head, the one that can think of nothing better than an early Sunday morning drive.
Even if you only own it for a few months before your sensible head takes over, at least you will have that experience, the memories you make in even a short time will stay with you, as will the inevitable photos and hours spent cleaning, polishing or just ogling your dream ride. Don't wait till it's too late, that dream car may not be achievable forever, they will likely become rarer and eventually prices will inflate beyond reach. Take the leap now, get that dream car, maybe take it on track as well.
Not getting any younger
Grab That Classic Before They Rust Away
Another year passes, that birthday that you have been dreading edges ever closer, your joints get creakier and you swear your skin gets worse week by week. No, I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about the classic cars, hidden away in sheds and garages around the world. Their owners have long given up on them, with little chance of them seeing daylight or the road ever again. They need saving, they need you to save them.
Many of us not only dream of performance cars but also, of sticking a classic in the garage, for weekend tinkering, Sunday drives and taking to show off down the local car meets. Unfortunately, our busy lives cause most of us to carry on making excuses that deny us the chance to experience these classic cars, but this year we will take the time and make sure that we save one of these classics from the scrapheap in the sky.
Owning a classic opens the door to a different kind of motoring experience. An analogue drive, limited driver aids and exposure to everything that the road will throw at you, get ready to really drive your car, not letting it do the driving for you. The experience found in these cars will never be found in any new car again, particularly as we move towards autonomous driving. Yes, you may spend more time underneath it than in the driver's seat but this will just further your bond with the car and increase your mechanical understanding and ability.
Make your car it's best version
Or Maybe Just Make Your Car Better
Maybe you don't have the budget to take your vehicle on track, buy that dream car or invest in a racing series. But you surely can dig down the back of the sofa, raid the kid's money banks and open up that ISA to modify your ride a little. Think of it as an investment in your happiness, if that makes it any easier.
It doesn't have to be much, even the smallest of changes can make a car your own and re-ignite your love for a vehicle that may have been lost over long arduous winters without washes and boring rainy commutes. Working on your car to make improvements or even just the research involved in buying your new parts will get you thinking about your car, you will then enjoy driving it and spending time with it that much more than before, trust me.
Sometimes the simplest of modifications, such as coloured parts for your interior and exterior modifications to the cars styling like spoilers, splitters and stickers will make a large change to the way your car looks after you have spent years looking at the exact same vehicle. These aesthetic changes could be all you need, but that is only the start, more money yields more impressive results, with many modern turbocharged cars responding well to simple remaps, creating a whole new driving experience. While performance modifications such as wheels, tyres and suspension improvements can make a drastic change to the driving characteristics of any car.
So, make this year a car year, let's see 2020 being the year with record numbers of track days and more enthusiasts scouring the forums and websites (here's to Drivetribe growing even larger this year). More interest on social media will spread the word further and we can infect more of the population with the performance car virus. Think of all the people who don't even know what they are missing out on and could be serious petrol heads without even knowing it.
So, take the leap, buy that car, fit those wheels or get on the track. Let's enjoy this year with our cars and driving because there may be a time in a few years when we can't anymore. Let me know in the comments what your car goals are for 2020.