27 Nov 2015

What I Need Is A "Don't Give A Shit" Car

Remember that funny clip doing the rounds recently where two Mercedes drivers were facing each other in a tunnel? There's no room for one to pass the other and neither will budge. One car was an S-Class driven by an old fool who reckoned he didn't know how to reverse and the other an SLK driven by a middle aged blonde woman who should've known better.

For forty minutes she cursed and hectored whilst he sat, unmoving. Eventually with help from people who knew how to drive he reversed his old bus out of the way and she drove off, no doubt accompanied by a two fingered salute. He had been in the wrong but she should have read the situation and reversed.

I had one of these moments of my own recently. It was along one of the many single lane country lanes with passing places around and about where I live. It was dark, slightly drizzly and I was in my 10 month old Volvo XC60 which is relatively large and incredibly visible due to the Swedish-spec lights which could be used to bring down a 787 Dreamliner were the runway lights to fail at Heathrow.

My opponent was in a four year old Skoda Fabia estate - a hateful car. The standard issue Fabia looks great but the estate is in the Peugeot 207 SW category for dreariness as far as I'm concerned.

I was driving down the lane and could see his lights in the distance. I passed a passing place but given he was a good third of a mile away didn't stop at it. There would be more.

But I didn't pass another until we met, nose to nose. I know the road well and given the distance from the one I'd passed I knew he would just have passed one.

But he refused to budge. I waved my hands at him, gesticulating for him to reverse. He refused to budge. I flashed my lights. He refused to budge. I became enraged and called him a very rude name from within the confines of my own car. He refused to budge. I honked my horn. He refused to budge. I leaned out of the window and shouted that he'd just passed a passing place and would he reverse back to it please. He refused to budge. I called him another rude name and told him to reverse back to the rude word passing place he'd just rude word driven past. Rude word.

He refused to budge.

It was at this point I wished I wasn't in my almost-new Volvo. I wished I was in a car I didn't give a single shit about. I wished I could have slowly driven up to him and forcibly pushed him all the way back to the passing place where I would have scraped all up the side of his rude word Fabia rude word estate and carried on my merry rude word way.

I was annoyed that the only course of action was for me to reverse a third of a mile to the next passing place and let him through. I didn't care about conceding defeat or any other stupid macho nonsense. I cared that he was both too stubborn and too thick to be able to drive properly and that I had to put myself out purely because he was too stubborn and thick to do so himself. And, yes, there was a passing place twenty yards behind where his car had been.

And then I set about thinking. I thought about the amount of times I'd cursed somebody else's driving, about their obvious lack of skills and the sheer arrogance of many drivers. I reckoned at least half of drivers I meet coming the other way are more than half way over the middle of the road so that I have to scrape along a hedge so they don't have to.

And then I thought, yes, I really do want a 'don't give a shit' car, and being a petrolhead I decided there and then exactly what it would be.

It would obviously have to be cheap and reasonably old, say ten to twelve years. It would also have to be small. A large car would be useful in some circumstances but in this car I'd want to never have to stop or swerve for someone coming the other way. I'd want to carry merrily on and watch as they panic and plunge their brand new Audi A7 into a hedge. I'd want to play chicken and win every single time because I had the nerve to do so because I didn't give a shit about the car I was in.

It would also have to be quick - just because.

I decided my ideal 'don't give a shit' car would be a 2004 Mini Cooper S. You can pick one up for a couple of grand and it'll be in good nick. It's small, has great steering and goes like the proverbial off a shovel.

So one day when the lease on my Volvo is nearing it's end I might buy myself a cheap Mini Cooper S and then you'd better watch out because I really won't give a shit.

By Matt Hubbard