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The Greatest Video Game Ever

Well at least now I have got your attention.

Video games are in a constant state of development, with better game play, graphics and fun with every new release. However, in much the same way as many oxygen breathing humans get with areas such as fashion, music and of course cars, the value of ‘vintage’ is most definitely on the up. I have played a host of games in the past on various platforms and consoles, everything from strategy, fantasy, war and, shock horror, racing games.

We are living in a world dominated by Forza, Gran Turismo and by extension, the driving options available in games such as Grand Theft Auto. The graphics may be unbelievably clear and the driving physics as close to realistic as is possible in a virtual reality, but none of these would win the prize as my all time favourite racing game. I realise that the title I gave this post was a little on the eccentric over-reaction side of life, but in my humble opinion this game will always be my number one in virtual motor sport.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to TOCA 2 Touring Cars.

The British Touring Car Championship was at its best during the 90s, and one of the greatest of these legendary years was 1998. Some of the highlights include a down to the wire championship battle, the introduction of mandatory pit stops, and Nigel Mansell. But why type a selection of words and phrases into my laptop to describe an amazing year, when I could just muster the power of video to explain my point… would you ever believe me if I said there was a BTCC race where Nigel Mansell (in a guest drive) started last and nearly ended up winning? No?

WELL then, watch this…

One of the greatest races ever, 1998 BTCC Donington Feature ft. Nigel Mansell

As John Watson so pointed out, “The British Touring Cars have totally eclipsed anything we have ever seen”.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars was released on the original PlayStation (the PS1 if you will), and was based on the 1998 BTCC season. Players had the chance to participate in the championship in one of three difficulty modes, which decided how many races the season would consist of. In addition, there are your usual time trial based modes. However, the game also gave players the chance to participate in the support car championships that were in effect in 1998. The game truly offers a full and comprehensive mode of play that truly reflects the giant of motor sport history that was the British Touring Car Championship of 1998.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars in all its glory

TOCA 2 Touring Cars in all its glory

Based on the picture you can now see with your eyeballs, you are probably making some comment on the poor quality of the graphics but what do you expect from a PlayStation One? And this game is in no way devoid of other issues. I will be the first person to admit that this game is dripping with issues. For example, the driving physics, as amazing as they are most of the time, have a habit of being massively unpredictable. When it comes to racing games, I am something of a perfectionist. And when a car has a habit of spinning wildly out of control for no reason although you have taken the corner no different to normal, it does vex me greatly. And I do not often use the word vex.

And I am not done either.

When it comes to competitive racing, it would appear that the AI cars seem to be possessed by some form of demonic spirit. When it comes to the first corner of any track on the calendar, I can promise you that the competition will find a way to take the corner at 5 times the speed that you have, whether through the gravel or on the tarmac, which usually means that you end up facing the wrong way in last place. Not only that, but it would seem that this satanic influence gives your opponents the ability to crash you off the road with a single touch, yet remain immovable when you try and return the favour.

All in all, the combination of these problems does definitely create rage filled controller flinging experiences. I can do nothing but apologise to my parents for the screaming, the shouting and definitely the damage as a result of my playing this game in my younger years.

Brutality is definitely the name of the game

Brutality is definitely the name of the game

And yet…

When everything comes together, the pure magic of the game becomes apparent. I mean yes there are faults left right and centre with the game quality, but what do you expect? And then again, in many ways it adds to the fun you can have with it. There is a level of madness and unpredictability that will wave goodbye to many hours of your life. And will you regret it at the end? No way.

What if I also told you that some aspects of the game were so forward thinking, that it took until the PS3 generation for other games to catch up. For example, usually in multiplayer modes, the number of opposition reduces to only 6 cars. However, in the co-op championship mode, you are still given a full grid of other cars. The problem I have with modern games is that they seem to assume that none of us have physical friends any more. New generation games seem to only offer multiplayer modes online, as if two friends would never DARE want to play a game together in the same place at the same time.

“Hey man, do you want to play some F1?”

“Yeah that would be awesome, i’ll see you in a bit yeah?”

“Wait, where you going?”

“Well you know, I have got to go home, log on and grab my head set”

“Oh yeah true that, see you in a bit!”

You know, some people seem to think that video games are making us less sociable. I wonder where that comes from.

In many ways, the game was as exciting as the real deal...

In many ways, the game was as exciting as the real deal…

As I have said, the combination of all these different elements, both good and bad, make this game a titan of video gaming. The competitive nature of the game make it more special and more exciting than anything you can get from a modern game. The driving physics are real yet ridiculous; you actually get different levels of handling from the different cars in the game. Trying to wrestle a Peugeot around a track often ends as badly as it did for Harvey and Radisich in ’98.

The original TOCA game never really did have the same spark, it lacked the same competition. And afterwards with the rise of TOCA Race Driver and beyond, the game began to look better and better, but somehow it just did not seem as fun. The level of co-op ability decreased, and in the case of TOCA Race Driver they tried to add the single most ridiculous over-Americanised story line known to the mind of mankind. Something about getting revenge for the death of your dad by becoming the greatest race driver ever…or something. I don’t know.

Recently, I managed something I was never able to do as a child. I completed what I would like to call the standard grand slam. 18 rounds. 18 wins. Only one thing remains. The expert mode takes racing games to a whole new level. I feel like I need some form of a professional workout regime to be able to psyche myself up for such a challenge.

And so, TOCA 2 Touring Cars may not be perfect, but it is the flaws that make it special. It reflects the no holds barred thrill that was the 1998 BTCC season. For anyone that has not played it, I really do hope that you will give it a go. There is after all a reason I came back to it 10 years after my first time.

No one is ever too old for video games. Good video games will never be too old.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars: a timeless classic

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69 (I talk about this video game quite a lot)

Peace and Love!

Insanity Highway: More Madness in Motorsport

Many of my posts can be quite high on the old word count, but this one I will keep short and sweet. I have been yet again delving into recent news and I have come across some rather curious updates from the motor sport world. It has come to my attention that some individuals have started down a dangerous path. They have ignored the road signs for logic, level headedness and maintaining the essence of motor sport and turned onto ‘Insanity Highway’ which passes through the city of Cockyville and descends into the famous Slam-Your-Head-Against-A-Wall tunnel.

The first of these pieces of new comes from Formula One, which is just my utter favourite form of motor sport ever… Yes…Really… Anyway, news has reached my ears that the governing body of F1 have announced that the final round of the motor sport will offer double points in the championship. One can only imagine that it is an attempt by the sport to stop the domination that has been the case by Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel and bring back the competitive aspect. What a great idea, I mean while they’re at it why don’t they make in mandatory for all drivers during pit stops to jump out the car, perform the macarena while reciting a monologue from Shakespeare. I am sorry but it just seems completely and utterly ridiculous to me. Has the sport really got to this point where they are having to try and force competition and good television. Next they might even try to extract blood from a stone. It would be just as stupid as the final round of any league based sport offering double points. It is no different to any of the other rounds. And as many of the drivers have pointed out, it is punishing the drivers who have done well across the season.

I am aware that other regulation changes are to be made. But seriously, if you want to make the sport more competitive, you need to address it at the basic level. If you want the sport to be a commercial success, maybe it is time to bring about changes to this massive focus on tyres, fuel and general pit strategy. If you want to make F1 more entertaining to watch, one must address the racing itself and look at ways to make EACH ROUND more competitive.

Some suggestions could be to introduce a reverse grid start to some rounds, while also offering points for qualifying to save drivers setting purposely bad times to make sure they remain at the front of the grid. On top of that, the reverse grid can be random and chosen only on race day to add an element of unknown. Further suggestions would be appreciated!

And now to move on…

The BTCC used to be one of the worlds top touring car championships. And then with the regulation changes in the early 00s the sport came tumbling down into terrible-ness. And over the last few years it has found itself recovering, with the number of entrants increasing by the year, and the racing getting closer. However, one of the massive problems that is still plaguing the sport is the lack of manufacturers. The manufacturers that are there are clearly have a much larger budget and better technology, as has been seen by the last season dictatorship by Honda and MG. This brings me onto the news that I have discovered. The Honda team have announced their 2014 car. And well… there is not really any other way I can say this so just have a look at the picture for yourself..

The new Honda for the 2014 BTCC Season...

The new Honda for the 2014 BTCC Season…

Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is indeed a Honda Civic Estate that has greeted your vision. It is an insult to my eyes. If my eyes could throw up, now may be the time that it will happen. The Honda team have said that they wanted to add a new challenge into the mix in next years championship. Is it just me or is that statement just filled with blood curdling arrogance? Honda have been the Red Bull of the BTCC for the last few years. They know too well that they are the dominant team and it would seem that it is now getting to their heads a little bit. I really do hope that the team suffers next year and it gives chances to other teams to compete for the title. Chances are this will just hand MG the title on a plate. This move by the Honda team might imply a sense of hierarchy in the BTCC, which may break apart the lovely family feel of the sport.

Come on Honda. Don’t become THAT GUY.

Until next time my lovely readers,

If you have any comments please feel free to contact me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

Queen: Great Driving Anthems

Legends of Music

Legends of Music

Don’t Stop Me Now… because I Want It All… and I want to ride my Bicycle… while I’m rushing Headlong out of control. It’s a Hard Life…because I am the Invisible Man… but The Show Must Go On. It is a Kind of Magic… and Friends Will Be Friends… and most importantly I Am In Love With My Car.

Queen are quite simply my all time favourite band. No other band can even come close to the majesty that is made up Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. With a career spanning from the early 70s, Queen have become one of the legends of the music industry. I do not possess enough fingers, toes or even limbs to count the number of smash hits they have had, nor the number of genres they have conquered in their world domination. To describe them as international just does not do them justice. They were one of the first bands to open up South America as a territory, and were the first band to play behind the Iron Curtain in Budapest in 1986. This does lead me flawlessly into the undeniable fact that Queen were probably the greatest live act to set foot on stage. The 20 minute ‘Live Aid’ set in 1985 has gone down in history as ‘one of the worlds greatest bands, performing one of worlds greatest sets, on the worlds greatest stage’.

The Legendary Queen Set at Live Aid 1985

On occasion I have heard many cynical little surrender monkeys describe Queen using the phrase, ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. Yes, Queen did span a multitude of genres, but if they were indeed ‘masters of none’ then they would not be considered one of the greatest bands of all time. Whether they were bringing the rock, the metal, the rockabilly, the pop or even the Motown, they always ensured themselves success with their fusion of the Freddie Mercury vocals, the monumental harmonies and of course that melodic powerhouse that is the Red Special guitar of Brian May. Chances are, I could spend hours, days, weeks, months or even years going on about just how much I love Queen. After all, Freddie Mercury is my idol, musically and culturally. He was not just a great musician, but he was an incredibly powerful yet humble human being. Even though he was battling one of the most destructive diseases on the planet, Freddie Mercury had an inner strength comparable to none, and yet he continued making amazing music up until his death on November 24th 1991.

The Man, The Voice, The Legend

The Man, The Voice, The Legend

I know what you are probably thinking… Why am I going on about Queen? What have they got to do with cars? Well the reason I bring this all to do with another aspect of the everyday motoring experience. I am of course talking about one of the central parts of any driving date: listening to music.

Many of us may not realise it, but listening to music is an integral part of our relationship with driving. I have had the pleasure to have driven and been driven in vehicles all around the world, and one of the common factors that links all of these experiences, forgetting the place, the people and the vehicle is music and sound. Humans and music share a special relationship; it mirrors our own emotions and gives us somewhere to escape from the stresses and strains of modern life. For example, when I am at home, I like nothing better than to put the headphones in and be transported into a world of my own choosing. Music can make us smile when we are sad, express feelings for others we do not have the courage to say, and most importantly it can bring people together.

Chances are that wherever you may be going in your car, you will have the radio on, be playing a CD or have your iPod plugged in to the sound system. Speaking of which, no one can really argue that music and driving do not share an intimate link; just look at some of these people that spend gargantuan amounts of their hard earned money on sound systems with the power to shake the very earth they are driving on. Each one of us is different, and with our own music selection while we drive we really do make driving our own. There is a sense of belonging and intimacy created when you have the power to control your journey. Many of us will spend many hours driving from place to place, so why not feel as comfortable as possible? Music gives us something familiar and relatable, especially if we are passing through an unfamiliar land with nothing but a SatNav to guide us.

Whether are driving to work, driving to the shops or driving just for the sake of driving, sometimes we all need to crank up the volume and let the emotion, power and theatre out that is hiding away inside of us. Each and every one of us will have our own favourite bands, our own favourite albums and our own favourite songs. They define who we are. And the cultural icon that is Queen has indeed defined who I am as a person today. I shall now present to you a list of some of my favourite songs of theirs and just why they make great driving anthems for all occasions.

Queen doing what they do best

Queen doing what they do best

Tie Your Mother Down – This song from 1976 is one of Queen’s iconic hard rock numbers. Imagine a drive to the local shops on relatively empty roads, with this song blasting out on the radio. The song simultaneously gives you the sense of power and speed of the empty roads, while relieving any stress about the shop. It gives you the chance to chant the stress away. What more, at the traffic lights there is always the chance for a cheeky outburst of air guitar.

Don’t Stop Me Now – Any song that is voted the greatest driving song of all time by Top Gear UK cannot be ignored now can it? You could be driving alone or with friends, this is a great sing-a-long song. You could be stuck in traffic but if this song comes on, I can definitely argue that you will be dancing along in your seat and you will no longer care where you are. A great beat. Amazing catchy vocals and killer guitar. What is not to love?

I Want To Break Free – Even the manliest of men will dissolve into a camp mess of hoover based dancing when this song comes on. This song gives you the chance to stop caring about the world around you and be a little silly for those three minutes. After all, your car is your kingdom, what you do in there is your business. Especially if you work a job that involves staunch professionalism, I urge you whack this little beauty on while you drive home and it will make your day a whole lot better.

Who Wants To Live Forever (Live in Budapest 1986) – Sadly not every moment in life can be a positive one. There are those moments in life where we all feel a little sad and just want to scream. I don’t know about you, but a lot of the time when I am sad I do feel like belting out a classic power ballad full of emotion. Imagine it if you will, you have received some bad news and you are driving down a coastal road in the evening, while the rain beats down on the windscreen. As you swing around each corner, while there may even be tears streaming down your face, this song will come on and the raw emotional undertone of this song will propel you into a world of song. It reminds you that it is ok to feel sad every now and again.

Innuendo – This relatively unknown number one single from the early 90s is full of theatre and passion. As we all know, long motorway journeys can seem endless. However, with the right song on it can keep us awake and keep us motivated. This is one of those songs. The 6 minutes include heavy rock, Spanish guitar and searing vocals make this song the perfect driving song for when you need perking up. Just remember, the end of the journey is near. All you need is a little dose of Queen and you’ll be there

Breakthru – This song is not only my favourite Queen song, but my favourite song of all time. The driving beat. The cheesy romantic lyrics. The epic guitar solo. This song is everything to me. And from my own experiences, there is no driving scenario that cannot be improved with this song blaring out of the radio. This song can be the light in your usual dark day. It can be the soundtrack to your countryside pedal to the metal thrash. It can even be that song you play after the girl you’ve been chasing for months has rejected you. There is always hope.

Bohemian Rhapsody – And finally, I present to you one of the greatest songs ever written. The song for every occasion. But whenever I hear this song I can just imagine me and my friends driving while we attempt to sing along. Operatic section included. This song is the ultimate song for you and your mates. Sound familiar? Well, would we all not want to recreate THAT scene from Wayne’s World? As I am writing this, the operatic section is building into that riff we all know so well. And yes, I am indeed head banging as I am typing. This is the perfect driving song. There will always be a smile on your face when this song is on.

…unless you do not like it or Queen. But that cannot be right. You just cannot be human (I joke of course)

There are of course a host of other songs in the Queen arsenal. Sadly I have not got time to talk about them all. But this is where you come in. If you have indeed liked what you have heard here today, then it is now up to you to find out more for yourself. The driving experience is a special one. Music can really enhance this experience. Even though I have spoken only about Queen, I wish for you to go out and find your own Queen. Find your own perfect playlist.

What makes your perfect driving playlist?

In the meantime, I will leave you with the Queen song written by Roger Taylor, who was by the way a massive car fan. Ladies and gentlemen, it has once again been a pleasure. Here it is…

I’m In Love With My Car

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

A MINI Problem

I have mentioned previously that I am not a native to Australian shores. Alas, my origins are much more British in their nature. But I see this as nothing but a good thing. This gives me the opportunity to bring together two wonderful worlds in a colourful explosion of thought and opinion. Now, I spend many an hour scrolling through the underbelly of the Internet looking for the latest news from the automotive universe; every now and again something catches my eye that is just perfect. News has reached my ears regarding the spread of MINI in Australia. It would appear that MINi are struggling to sell the MINI Paceman.

The Mini Paceman

The Mini Paceman

Within the first 7 months that the model was on show to the public, only 93 were sold. In fact, overall MINI seems to not be doing too well in its introduction to Australia. This did get me thinking; what is going on here? Is there any explanation? 

Traditionally, the Mini is a very British invention. In fact, not only does it characterise what it meant to be involved in British culture, but  the Mini Cooper was a fully fledged film star. ‘The Italian Job’ is one of THE most successful British films of all time, gaining worldwide success. Here is a fun fact:

Due to the Italian filming location for the film and various funding sources, the cars for the film were originally going to be Fiats. Fiat was the most popular everyday car in Italy throughout the mid-20th century after all. But the film makers put their foot down and it was confirmed that the Mini would be the car used in the film.

Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘The Italian Job’ (1969)

The Stars of the Show - 'The Italian Job' (1969)

The Stars of the Show – ‘The Italian Job’ (1969)

However, in more recent years, MINI was taken over and transformed, when the name was bought by BMW. And so began the modernisation of the Mini. At first, the relaunch of the MINI Cooper brought back the entire Cooper-craze across the world. The Mini even found fame in the USA with the absolutely terrible re-make of the Italian Job, made bearable only by Charlize Theron if I am truly honest.

One of my personal confusions with this new Mini was the fact that it was well, massive. I can assume it was some sort of symbolic oxymoronic construction having a rather large car being called Mini, but still. The old Mini was small, zippy, plucky and full of character. This new one however, although definitely an individual sexy little so and so, had lost some of that original character, mainly down to the fact that it was no longer that small.

Everything was going so well… It may not have been the old Mini but it was definitely a positive step… It was all going well…

Too well…

The new MINI - It went through various forms after the initial relaunch

The new MINI – It went through various forms after the initial relaunch

As with so many of the great things that exist upon this fair planet, everything took a sudden downhill tumble. It would appear the BMW owners decided they wanted to squeeze as much life as possible out of the MINI name. I am sure there are a few good ways to use the MINI name to bring out some new cars. I always thought a MINI GT or Supercar would have been wonderful. They may have looked a little on the strange side, but I liked the idea behind the Coupe, Convertible and Roadster. It was making the MINI into a fully fledged road going brand. The only thing I would have definitely said should be avoided was the spacious 4×4 route. I mean who would be stupid enough to start introducing a 4×4 edition of the MINI onto the market. Only a complete idiot would do something like tha-

*phone rings* “…hello? You’re joking right? They didn’t did they? a 4×4 MI- well thank you for telling me”

Well this is a little awkward. It turns out that is what MINI actually decided to do. At first they thought the best thing to do would be to elongate the Cooper into the Clubman. Horrifically enough, this then ‘inspired’ them to construct the ClubVAN. I mean seriously guys, what is going on? The best way to describe them is taking a the front end of a MINI and adding the back end of a Ford Transit onto its behind. Words fail me. Literally fail me.

And then came the turn of the Countryman and the Paceman. The SUV/4×4 style MINI that was meant to give the customer the perfect MINI for when ‘they ran out of road”. The problem with introducing a 4×4 MINI is that MINI is owned by BMW. And BMW are not exactly known for manufacturing the best off road machines known to man. I mean the BMW X5 failed both on road and off road.

The MINI range. Notice the size… Bigger and Bigger… Uglier and Uglier...

The MINI range. Notice the size… Bigger and Bigger… Uglier and Uglier…

And so we have returned to the original subject matter. Why is it that the new MINI range is failing in Australia? I would like to think that the fault lies in the range itself. The designers at BMW/MINI did not really think of how the new cars could fit into the market. They do not seem to have a certain audience. If I was to be totally honest I thought that the new MINI models were meant as a bit of a gimmick or a joke, either that or the designers happen to get bored and decided to see what was the most ridiculous thing they could come up with was.

Maybe MINI should scrap everything and start again. The MINI brand did have some pace and power initially, but with this new ridiculous output it has lost a lot of trust and excitement. If MINI were to introduce a dedicated sports range I think they would gain a lot more success.

So, to conclude, the failure of the new MINI models is down to the cars themselves and their lack of direction and place in the current market. Dearest BMW owners, you have heard my views, and you have heard my suggestions. I will leave the rest up to you.

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

Driving with Dad

I am not usually someone to point out the obvious, but there are times where necessity overrides my nature. Driving is one of the great pleasures of the modern age. Nothing compares to the liberation and joy we feel behind the wheel of our very own dream machine. We may not realise it, but driving gives us all a surge of confidence. We have the control. We have the power. We own the road.

…well I thought I did. When I am behind the wheel, I am the Lord of my machine. Until of course, the form that materialises in the passenger seat is that of my dad.

It would only now seem fair that I provide some context to this seemingly confusing statement. At the end of the day, this is either a problem suffered by us all, or it may just be me living in my own world of eccentric dazzlement. First, it is time to take a holiday into the dark depths of the past.

When I was a young lad, my father defined what life was for me. As with any child, he was my dad, friend, hero, you know, all that classic cheesy stuff. One of the most important things however was the fact that he was my ticket to the rest of the world. Wherever I needed to go, he was my ride. He was my taxi driver, my fountain of driving knowledge, and of course my ride home. As much as I have always been an independent little so and so, there were times when a bus just would not cut it.

When the ripe old age of 17 came and slapped me in my confused little face, the time had come for me to learn to drive. But that is another story. A year later I had my own license and very quickly, my own car. And with that, my dad’s services were no longer needed. It was at this time that everything began to change. A deep grumble in the very fabric of my family. A power shift turned everything I once knew on its head.

The worst part was how it crept up on me. My innocence shattered forever. Suddenly he asked me for a lift. Everything I once knew had changed forever.

The only way I can attempt to explain just how terrifying this felt is by means of a comparison. Let us just take a second. Imagine if you will your ultimate music hero. Whether it is your Beatles, your Queen or your Rolling Stones does not matter. But imagine if you will performing for them. The very thought of that sends a pang of terror to my bones. And driving my dad absolutely anywhere is that exact same feeling.

I would like to think that 99.9% of the time that I am actually a very good driver. But as soon as my dad sits down next to me in my car, I turn into a pile of brain dead bone and tissue. There was one time where I literally forgot how to drive for a good few minutes. How he did not notice I will never quite know. But for that I am massively grateful.

…yet here I am writing this very blog with the full knowledge that he will get to reading this. I really did not think this through at all now did I?

Driver

I really wish I could explain it. But there is something about driving a man who I respect so much that does bring the nerves in the truck load. I have been having to do this now for around 4 years and even now I still struggle to keep my cool. There are times when my dad does actually compliment my driving, but even so I still feel that he is just being nice.

I really hope that it is not just me who has these feelings. Where better to share my thoughts than somewhere as great as Private Fleet.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts!

Follow me @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

A Jealous Englishman: What the World Needs to Learn from Australia

Good day fair readers!

I do very much believe some introductions are in order. My name is Lewis and I am coming to you from the  distant shores of the United Kingdom. If I am to be totally honest, my aims are very simple. All I would like to do is to bring a little happiness into your lives through my automotive ramblings. My love for the motoring world runs deep into my family history; motor sport has been the unifying factor that has pumped passionately through the genetics of my family. As long as I know I am spreading some of the happiness that cars have brought me, I am a happy man.

 Every generation has a legend. Every journey has a first step. Every saga has a beginning

…Just a little something for you Star Wars fans out there.

As you are reading this, you will come to realise just how special you are. Your eyes now have the privilege of seeing my first blog post, here on the online majesty that is Private Fleet. Finding THE article to start with is always going to be tricky. After much searching, it came to me. And as I write this, there could never have been any other option. As a Brit with a love for motor sport, I have been possessed by the green eyed monster. Australia has everything that I am looking for. Many of my favourite things come from Australia; Jack Brabham, nice weather and Tim Minchin to name but a few.

Tim Minchin – Dark Side (2009)

But most of all, you raging beauties hold the answer. You hold the answer to one of the largest problems that has befallen the modern world. When you mention ‘motor sport’ to any average person on the street, chances are their reply will have something to do with Formula One. Formula One was a once great sport that has now fallen into crisis. Hard, adrenaline fuelled racing has now been replaced by tyre choices and pit strategy. And APPARENTLY, one or two overtakes in a race marks them out as proof of amazing driving talent. But that is another story.

Similarly, British motor sport was once spearheaded by the British Touring Car Championship. But with the onset of the 00s and the decline of the ‘Super Tourers’ the sport became unpopular, and the great racing descended into thuggish behaviour and unfair driving. the BTCC during the 90s included some of the greatest racing I think I have ever seen, and to say that i grew up with it makes me so very happy.

The Greatest Few Laps of Any Race Ever – BTCC 1992 Season Finale!

Although I must say that the BTCC is back on the rise again in the UK, it is still to reach the meteoric levels of the 90s. And well, the less said about Formula One the better really. I have spent many an hour pondering over how motor sport can be improved. And then I realised that I have known the answer all along. The V8 Supercar championship is the beacon of hope in an ever darkening world.

V8 Supercars - Bathurst 1000

Everything about the sport is exactly how I wish motor sport could be. The cars look phenomenal, they sound like the bellow of some holy deity and the racing is pure and unfiltered. If I could ask for anything, it would be for the drivers of the V8s to head on over to the paddocks of the Formula One and BTCC grids and give them a lesson in how racing should be. This sport alone proves just how amazing Australia is and, even though it may be geographically many thousands of miles from where I am, I feel a better connection with the sport than I do with many on my own shores.

And not just the sports themselves, but the arenas for these automotive showdowns are rivalled by very few others across the world. I mean, is there a more exciting, heart pounding experience possible than a full throttle lap at Bathurst? I would like to see a Formula One car deal with a track like that. The Bathurst 1000 is an incredible event that makes me realise just how great some of these racing drivers truly are. There have even been occasions when my heros from the BTCC such as John Cleland and Matt Neal have attempted the Bathurst 1000 and proved that it really is no piece of cake.

So, as I bring my love fuelled rant to a close, I would like to leave you with one final message:

Dear Australia,

Whatever happens, please do not go changing. You are the beacon by which the rest of the world should follow. Whether we are talking comedy or motor sport, there is no place like Australia. I can only wish I had the chance of heading on over and sampling this majesty for myself. 

Thank you for the motor sport!

All the best,

Me!

Until next time my lovely readers.

Keep Driving!

Peace and Love!

Private Fleet 2013 Driving Survey

2013 Private Fleet Driving Survey

Following on from the success of our previous driving surveys, Private Fleet has once again quizzed Australian drivers from across the country to get a real sense of the current issues motorists are experiencing.

Traffic Jam

Some 3500 respondents participated in the anonymous survey- which identifies participants by gender, state, income, car and driving history- and the results are enlightening; some adding strength to old adages, others shattering them into oblivion. For example:

Money doesn’t buy happiness: Respondents earning over $200,000 per year are 60 per cent more likely to get angry behind the wheel than those on under $40,000.

Texting and driving: 58 per cent of 26-40 year olds admit to texting while driving, making them more likely to offend than the 18-25 bracket (51 per cent). Only 2 per cent of those over 75 years of age text and drive.

At-fault accidents: While 35 per cent of respondents reported an accident in the last three years, only 17 per cent admitted fault for a minor incident…that number dropped to only 4 per cent when admitting fault in a serious accident where police were called.

Women Drivers: Sorry ladies, after carefully analysing 2403 responses from men and 988 responses from women, it appears that women are actually around 40% more likely to be involved in an accident per kilometre driven.

Additionally some 1980 respondents added commentary on the standards of driving in Australia and our worst offenders. From Holden drivers’ aggression through to ‘distracted’ P-Platers, through to the age-old argument of undertaking versus those hogging the right lane, the comments have sparked no end of debate.

The true beauty of the Private Fleet Driving Survey lies in its interactivity. We invite you to peruse the results yourself, combine them how you want and create your own conclusions…with around 55 million possible combinations, we are sure there are many intriguing results to be discovered, so make sure you share your findings!

 

 

The best Australian cars

Over the years, both in print and on-line, many a discussion has been generated around Australia’s worst cars. But with the Aussie car industry on its knees, I thought it was time to introduce some positivity to our home-grown motoring story, and ask our readers: What are your favourite Australian cars?

Xy Ford Falcon

 

From the advent of the first Holdens in the 1940s through to today, there have been some wonderful Aussie cars, designed locally for local conditions. There were hardships of course, particularly in those early years where the content was largely inspired by America; indeed, early Falcons were positively flimsy and could simply fall apart, until Ford got serious with the legendary XP’s Aussie development program.

Leyland P76

Personally, my list of solid Aussies includes what is generally perceived as a lemon: the Leyland P76. With its light, all-alloy V8, big body and nice ride, I think the concept was right; it’s just a pity the execution (and subsequent reliability jibes) hampered its sales.

Of course, the massively successful HQ-series Holden (485.650 produced) personifies what Aussies (used) to want in a car; space, robustness, power and a semblance of style.

I also love the American-influenced ‘muscle car’ era, back when racing at Bathurst in production-based cars was actually beneficial to sales. Think Ford Falcon XY GT-HO, Chrysler Charger R/T E49 and Holden Torana A9X.

Ford EcoBoost Falcon

Of later machinery, the Falcon EcoBoost was an on-trend alternative for modern times, retaining the sense of size, power and reliability that the best Aussie cars have but combining it with ultra-modern mechanicals which provide that power with economy. It’s a great drive, too…it’s just a pity that Ford didn’t have the marketing capability to really sell the product.

We could argue forever about why we no longer buy Australian (fuel costs affecting fleet sales, extra competitive market, lack of investment/’feel’ for the market…the list goes on) but let’s instead try and gain inspiration from the past: What are some of your favourites?

Targa: Showcasing Tasmania

I have just returned from Tasmania, host of what is billed as ‘The World’s Ultimate Tarmac Rally’- Targa Tasmania.

In its 22nd year, the ‘Targa’ takes in roads across the breadth of The Apple Isle, over six days of intense competition. There was an eclectic mix of cars, with around 220 entries in this year’s instalment ranging from $500,000-plus Lamborghinis to a 1938 Dodge, the oldest vehicle in the event.

White Lambo

As much as it’s about the cars, Targa Tasmania does something else very well: It involves remote communities. Driving into George Town, I could see kids rushing from their school playground to the fence line as the competitors drove past. There was smiling, cheering, waving…some had even made signs up to support their favourite car or driver.

After the George Town stage, cars and crews assembled in the coastal town’s centre, where spectators thronged, music played and food was served. The camaraderie, not only between crews and crowds, but between rival crews themselves, is what sets this event apart.

In recent years the route has taken competitors for a second day of stages on the remote west coast. The stunning sea-side town of Strahan hosts the crews, and is overflowed with personality. It’s wonderful tourism for Strahan and the surrounding regions, which struggle to sustain themselves given their vast distance from major town centres.

While in Strahan it was sad to hear news of the Wilderness Railway possibly being closed down, simply via a lack of profitability. Sad, because its route reveals scenery so breath-taking in parts that it could rival anything in New Zealand or Switzerland.

Heading out towards Lake St. Clair on Targa’s final day, I was awe-struck by the perfect tranquillity of the landscape between the old mining centre of Queenstown and Derwent Bridge (seriously, try the steak at the pub). The barrenness of Queenstown is quickly replaced by deep, clear lakes, imposing mountain ranges and thick, lush forest, with 360 degree views interrupted only by birdsong. It’s truly idyllic; I haven’t been so moved by Planet Earth since I saw Lake Como in Italy, and it’s lucky that the most beautiful sections are not part of the closed road sections of Targa…as I’d bet someone would end up driving clean into a lake.

It’s an epic undertaking but if you can manage the logistics and love the outdoors, the west coast of Tassie- indeed, pretty much Tassie in general- is a wonderful place for a driving holiday.

Are Motor Shows still relevant in Australia?

This week we were informed that the Australian International Motor Show (AIMS), scheduled for Melbourne in June this year, has been cancelled.

AIMS Event Director, Russ Tyrie, said: “We have made the decision to not proceed with this year’s Show based on a consensus view of the Automotive Industry to focus limited marketing budgets in 2013 on firm specific activities rather than an industry based Motor Show.

“In not proceeding with the Show in 2013, Australia is following a global trend that has been apparent for several years, where cities do not always have a Motor Show. This trend is evident in the recent suspension of Motor Shows in London, Zagreb and Amsterdam,” Tyrie continued.

In 2009, a joint venture was formed between the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries- organisers of the Sydney Motor Show- and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce who co-ordinated the Melbourne show.

Their agreement saw a shared arrangement where each city would share AIMS responsibilities, hosting the show on alternating years. The venture sought to ensure enough manufacturer and public interest in Australian shows rather than competing for attendance and revenue each year.

Ford EcoBoost display at the 2011 AIMS

Now, with manufacturers moving towards different areas of promotion (for example, associating with major events like BMW at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival or sponsoring a sporting team like Renault has the Port Adelaide Football Club) the question needs to be asked: Is the Australian Motor Show on the verge of extinction?

The AIMS organisers have been adamant that they will return in 2014, but with a new focus on the Asia-Pacific region. This bodes well, and I for one hope they return with a vengeance, but several challenges lie in the way. For one, our population is not big enough to truly justify a massive brand presence, the like of which is seen at Tokyo, Geneva or New York. Related is the sheer distance we lie away from the global manufacturer bases. Big European brands are particularly limited by time and budget constraints, putting the clamps on just what they can do with their local promotional opportunities.

Also shifting are the public’s perceptions, and that’s where you come in. With the multitude of information available online augmenting traditional print channels, do you still feel a need to attend a motor show physically? Does the motor show model remain a worthwhile manufacturer showcase? Would you still prefer to attend a show when looking for a new car, or is it easier to research online?