Tuesday 16 June 2009


My land speed record when I used to drive cars ,which was a long time ago (I take a taxi if I really need to now), was 156 mph down the German Autobahn in a Brand new 1993 Corvette, notable for it's incredible torque during acceleration with a 405 break horsepower 5.7 litre V8 engine, platinum tipped sparkplugs, power inflatable adjustable leather recarro seats and most importantly the digtal speedometer readout which explains the exact speed rather than rounding it up to 160 mph which is what I'd normally do as an advertising professional referring to an analogue display. 

This all took place on the Autobahn between Giessen and Hanau on a beautiful crystal clear early Sunday morning. The traffic was quiet, there was no speed limit and my mate the General Motors dealer Geoff Sanders, who I believe still lives in Germany but may have since changed his name for reasons of privacy loaned me the keys for once. 23 years old and and an all American muscle car is a very heady intoxication I can tell you. I feel young just thinking about it.

Anyway it was quite unusual for me to get those keys because between him and the other member of the Giessen Airborne Division (so named because we always took off, literally flying ,over a hump back bridge on the way down to Frankfurt), I was the youngest of the troika, and had to wait my  turn for everything including the Suzuki Vitara which was the preferred Sunday evening cruise-about-town and which because of the removable top  and being an early SUV was quite a chick puller when we pulled up at Der Zwiebeln Pub for an evening of German cultural studies.

I say that tongue in cheek but actually I did attend the Volkshochschule classes which are evening language studies. I wanted to try my very best for a country that I was not only born in but have come to love very much. I also want to come back to that SUV and I will because out of the Troika I mention, it's only me that has not disappeared into the mists and yet only in Bangkok a few weeks ago I spotted someone who I hadn't seen for thirteen years and who I tipped heavily because I wanted them to know how I felt the mighty had fallen. And I also realised staring at that face which had aged exactly as I would have imagined, that I really endured quite a lot around that time.

Anyway getting back to cars, it is with some authority that I can say, of all the visceral and thrilling experiences of my life including say, sex or the youthful folly of pharmaceutical recreations where I left no stone unturned, that the most thrilling feeling I've possibly ever had was that Corvette barreling down the longest and straightest stretch of German motorway heading south until I'd lose my nerve because the horizon catches up in seconds at a certain velocity. Even though it was unlikely I couldn't handle the thought of the next car, in the middle lane, far away in the distance suddenly pulling out for unexpected reasons. I'm OK about dying, but at 23 years old with 405 bhp on the accelerator I was always much more about living. I still am, but the point I'm trying to make is if there is a war on drugs that really needs to be thought about it's the addiction to cars because there are quite a few powerful ways that car culture is addictive and speed is only one of them.

I confess also to feeling both ashamed and smug. The Corvette, a showroom new vehicle started to make a serious crankshaft banging noise at about 125 mph because as I later learned, brand new engines are supposed to be broken in slowly (and baby I ran that bitch ragged) before quietly returning it to Geoff's lot to be sold I think to a Staff Sergeant (E5) who memorably wanted to drive it to London but flipped out when we advised taking a ferry (before Euro Tunnel days) because he didn't now there was any water between the European continent and the British Isles. 

An E5 is responsible for up to twelve soldiers lives in a war situation and I don't know why they don't pull out a globe for middle ranking enlisted soldiers but that's just the way it is.

Anyway here's some car porn. It's very good and makes me think DC Shoes and Subaru have got it going on.

Via marketear