A rite of passage - driving my dad's Cosworth for the first time ever
My dad has always been more of a mate than a dad. He's always pushed me to work hard and to play harder, and has tended to skip the boring dad stuff entirely - for better or for worse.
So when, at the age of 10, he promised that he'd give me his Sierra Cosworth when I passed my test, I actually believed him. He was just about mad enough to give a risk-loving 17-year-old a 360bhp, injury-prone car.
My dad always had cool cars... until I was born. He ditched his Ford Capri for a succession of Rovers, presumably due to a newfound requirement to own a safe family car.
But after 10 years of Rover-ownership, something snapped, and he somehow managed to persuade my mum that a Ford Cosworth was a safe family car (he's never crashed it, to be fair. Not even a ding).
Eight long years after he made that purchase, at the age of 18, I still had a faint glimmer of hope that he would pass on the Cosworth to me. But given that I wrote off my first car (a 1992 reg Ford Fiesta), managed to crash my second car (a 1995 reg Ford Fiesta) in a Tesco car park by losing control of the front end, and ragged my third car (a Peugeot 306 Sport) so hard that it effectively became a write-off, it's probably a blessing that he never let me close to the wheel of the Cossie.
Until recently. that is...
A few weeks ago I went home - from London to Bath - to visit the family. Emotions were high after a difficult couple of weeks for the family, and my dad, my mum, my brother and myself were having a few well-earned alcoholic beverages. I saw my opportunity.
"Dad... can I drive the Cosworth tomorrow?"
"I don't see why not..."
Bingo. All I had to do was remind him the next morning what he'd agreed to after a few drinks the night before. Surprisingly, he didn't plead ignorance, and on a dry Sunday afternoon, I finally got to take our "family car" for a spin in Wiltshire.
(If you look closely you can see the "door open" warning light, for the definitely-not-open driver's door)
I'm by no means a car reviewer, I'll leave that stuff to the likes of Bovingdon and Catchpole, but Jesus Christ I could talk for days about being behind the wheel of that car.
The thing that stuck with me, other than the constant terror of knowing I was driving the one inanimate object my dad cares more about than any other inanimate object on the planet, was the feeling of endless immortal power when putting your foot down in third. I've owned a succession of sub 2 litre hatches that pull brilliantly in first and second, but become less and less fun in third up.
Being an adult with the personality of a child, I was rocketing up the gears on the Cosworth as quickly as possible just to hear the dump valve go "sheeeosh", but holding it in third on an open stretch of road as it tears up through the revs is something I would like to experience at least five or six times a day for the rest of my life.
Did it handle well? Yeah I think so. Was torque steering a problem? No idea. Was it fun? Jesus Christ, yes it was fun.
Dad, from the bottom of my heart - thanks.
(Now I just have to persuade him to sell it to me).