23 Mar 2013

Why wouldn't you want a fast car?

George Phillips rails against critics of fast and beautiful cars and argues that, like any luxury item, it all comes down to personal choice

Whenever you tell someone that you are a petrol-head with a passion for fast cars, they invariably sneer and scoff, “what’s the point of a fast car when you can’t go over 70mph?” Nothing infuriates me more than this sentence.

In a roundabout way, they are right. If you lurch from place to place sideways at 180mph all the time, you’ll quickly end up in a coffin, or worse, on a bus. Let’s just think about what we mean by a ‘fast’ car, though. It’s all very well to have a car that can hit a high top speed, but the real thrill in driving a high performance car doesn’t depend on the top end figures, it’s the acceleration that counts. 

What you need for the road is a ‘quick’ car, i.e. one that can get to 70 before you can say “speed camera”, not necessarily a fast car (although both would be preferable). However, it just so happens that quick cars tend to also be fast ones, so what you gonna do?

Now that we’ve got the technicalities out of the way let’s get back to the point of tackling these miserable, jealous, bitter people who complain about powerful cars on the road because “all you really ‘need’ is a utility to get you from a to b”. 

If the human race was built upon ‘needs’ rather than wants and desires, we would all still be wandering around in caves.  Not living, just surviving. Let me give you a few examples; a plastic bin bag fulfils all your basic clothing ‘needs’, but you don’t wear a bin bag, you wear a Ralph Lauren Polo instead. 

Similarly, gruel is a worthy source of sustenance, but on a Saturday night you order lobster bisque and a juicy steak instead. You might rave about the practicality and simplicity of the Nokia 3310, but in reality you'd have an iPhone, which is beautiful, but breaks all the time. I think you see what I’m getting at here.

No one grows up yearning to own a reasonable, well thought out diesel hatchback; they grow up longing to one day own a sleek Italian thoroughbred or a slab of American muscle. While the essential recipe for all cars is the same; four wheels, an engine, some seats and off you go, it’s the added extras that make a car really special. 

As with everything in life a car with a bit of flair and character makes those of us with a heart act irrationally. I, for example, would gladly give up a kidney in order to own a Pagani Huayra, even though I couldn’t take it to the shops. I would beg, steal and borrow to have a Ferrari F40 on my drive, even though it’s less well equipped than a cardboard box.

While most people aren’t in the privileged position to let their heart rule their head, it’s of little use to spurn those who are. If that is the case, how long before we shun those who wear designer clothes or who choose to eat what they enjoy, not what keeps them alive? 

No one requires anything more than food in their stomach and a roof over their heads, but those are the mere basics for existence.  What really makes life wonderful is the superfluous. 

I can only conclude then that those who say there's no point having a fast car have no soul, no passion for the things in life that are stunning and amazing, outrageous and ridiculous but just an eye for the mundane and the rational. 

This is why, despite condemnations from journalist Chris Harris, I am pleased Lamborghini have made the utterly mad and absurd Veneno hypercar, because it’s something for me to crave irrationally, before the whole world succumbs to wearing bin bags and eating gruel.

See George's work at www.motormouth1.blogspot.co.uk