I had a rather melancholic motoring experience last Saturday whilst collecting an eBay purchase from Chesterfield, an hour’s easy cruise away through the Peak District. A cheeky bid on Friday night and collection just hours later. Perfect.
However the seller insisted on a midday collection. So as I sat in a snake of cars, trucks and buses dawdling up hill, down dale with no option to overtake and unattainable 50mph limits, the realisation that this would continue for the next hour was exceptionally frustrating. Steering wheel-punching frustrating.
As I finally hit Chesterfield and sat there gridlocked for half an hour thanks to the collective genii of the town-planning department, it sunk in that motoring was no longer enjoyable. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Driving had now become a daily uphill battle and I’d even grown sick of manually changing gear.
I mentally planned a phonecall to my pal Graham who puts Cat Ds back on the road and listed my requirements; automatic, old tech, non-turbo diesel, small wheels, comfortable, low power.
There and then as I sat and watched the traffic lights cycle dozens of times, I packed in motoring, stopped caring about enjoying the drive and became an ‘A-to-B ‘, 40mph-everywhere kind of guy. Game over. The return journey became a mirror image, with the added slab of misery that is a major trunk road closure and a sign-less diversion through a web of country lanes.
It ruined my day frankly, the sheer fruitlessness of an utterly shambolic journey.
I followed up on my promise and called my pal to start the ball rolling. The truth is, I hit a brick wall and couldn’t come up with any suggestion that would better the feel, balance and dynamic excellence of the trusty Mk1 Focus I pootle round in.
It would appear that anyone who enjoys motoring could never accept a comfy, wallowy old boat (even to save money and lower stress levels) if feel and sharpness are compromised, even at low speed.
The car simply has to be an integral part of the driver.