Why do I like to Drive cars?
You feel the vibrations and hear the noises, you bring your hand down to shift gear and pushes the stick forward to the “3” position. You can feel and hear the cogs matching with an intoxicating “clunk”, the clutch pedal is released and at the same time, the throttle opens fully and the engine breathes, forces an explosive mix of fuel vapor and oxygen into the cylinders. The highly volatile mix ignites; releasing the full hoard of rampaging stallions hidden in the engine propels you forward under a cascade of fantastic music and overwhelming forces.
The car talks to you, communicates with you through the ridiculously bucketed seat and up through your spine. No computers, no driver aids. A twitch, a small patch of loosened grip and the back of the car steps out like a happy dog. By pure instinct you catch it by steering in the opposite direction at the precisely right moment and slingshot out of the corner in a perfectly balanced 4-wheel drift. As you reach this level of symbiosis, driving purely by feeling, the car feels alive, and you feel more alive than ever.
This feeling is one of the best feelings in the world. Pure mechanical automotive perfection.
Sadly, the possibility to feel this is slowly being out-engineered from today’s cars. With the introduction of computers and flappy-paddle gearboxes the driver is effectively filtered from the driving itself. Sure, it’s still fun to drive these cars (actually, some aren’t!) but you can never feel that magical mechanical connection between man and machine that you can feel in a pure drivers car.
So what is a driver’s car? It’s of course extremely hard to define. Almost everyone have their own definition of automotive perfection. Some love the simplicity and brutality of American muscle cars and some likes the high tech standards of today’s hyper cars. Make no mistake, I do respect that. For me, automotive perfection is a manual gearbox, 3 pedals, rear wheel drive and rear mounted engine and tad and a bit of power. Simple, yet so exquisite.
Today, they build the cars so anyone can drive them at race speed, but that takes away the magic of learning. I took a 458 around the ring, and just a couple of laps in, I were down at almost under 8 minutes lap times. No sweat, no Adrenaline. Just breakneck speed.
Later I took an old 911 around. It had 240hp and the lap was around 10 minutes. When I arrived back at the pits, I bathed in sweat, breathed heavily and had sore arms not unlike a heavy gym-pass. I absolutely loved it. With adrenaline slowly subsiding I just realized what driving was all about. You should be working with the car. The car should not work for you.
One of my friends took the words out of my mouth earlier. “I would rather have a F40 than a LaFerrari, A McLaren F1 than a P1. A 917 instead of a 918.”
They are absolutely not faster than their more modern counterparts. But the feel of driving them, is truly legendary. I sincerely hope that they will start to make pure enthusiast cars again.
It’s not the speed that counts, It’s how it makes you feel.