Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

What's a good present for a hooligan?

In future I need to take more care about casual remarks. Twice while holidaying in France this year I mumbled to myself “I’d like to try out a Porsche some day.” unaware I’d been overheard. Yesterday I opened my front door to find a 22-year-old Porsche Carrera at my beck and call for the day. Thanks to Mrs BB, OS and PB. Yet my birthday is still two days away.

Thereby hangs a tale. Insurance companies take a dim view of old fools in Porsches and the cut-off age is 76; at present I’m 75. OS pointed out that the Carrera is as old as granddaughter Bella but certain cars do age graciously. Old men become incontinent, old Carreras become classics.

Parts of the Carrera are woefully antique. The dashboard is utterly non-ergonomic, starting the engine requires the brief but irritating insertion of a chip, the convertible body creaks and groans, at slow speeds the steering is as heavy as that of an oil tanker, and the unassisted brake pedal ideally requires both feet.

But the faster you go the more responsive things get. Not only does the car gobble up corners as if on rails, it invites you to accelerate round them. The lazy 217 bhp engine makes a noise like a washing machine (greatly disturbing OS’s cairn terrier) while you and Mr Toad struggle continuously for control of the steering wheel.

Took a little drive via Golden Valley to Hay-on-Wye, and the hills were alive with an engine beat that belonged to my youth. Speed, said Aldous Huxley, is the only new vice of our modern age. D’accord. Hay has the most beautifully located car-park in Britain: spot the Carrera.


The Crow said...

Too cool, BB, by half! My dream car is a Maserati Gran Turismo.

Literally, a dream car. Sometime in my late twenties I dreamed I was racing along high mountain roads in a cherry red one. Ever since, I've had a longing to drive one.

What a lovely present your family has given you. Hope you had a great time in it.

Happy birthday, too!

Relucent Reader said...

Thank you for the excellent post, BB. A Porsche is my dream ride as well.A speech teacher in college, 'The Colonel' as he was dubbed, drove a hard top 912 and just riding in that thing was a pleasure. I am dismayed by moderne Porsche jellybeans.
And a quote from Aldous Huxley, an early reading enthusiasm.My previous employer owned 'The Art of Seeing'; Huxley's nonfiction was my entry point into his works.

herhimnbryn said...

Porsche AND Golden Valley....sigh.

Rock On BB!

Julia said...

I can just hear the thrum of the engine as you drive through the hills, thanks for that excellent soundscape!

Avus said...

Nice one, BB! We drove the Golden Valley road to Hay about a month ago and parked down the bottom, under the trees, where that white van is. I remarked at the time that it would be a great motorcycling road. It must have been an exhilarating trip in the "Porker".
We sited our caravan near Bromyard for 10 days. As we drove through Hereford I thought of you.
Happy Birthday.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crew: Very handsome cars, Maseratis. I had fun but there was a problem late in the day. While I was waiting for a mechanic a motorcyclist parked his bike and walked over. "Beautiful! Beautiful!" he said. "But it doesn't work," I said. "That's a mere detail," he replied. Perhaps that said it all.

RR: I should have added to the post: this was a Targa (ie, a convertible). Huxley's out of fashion these days but not with me.

HHB: The perfect jaunt. Next time you're over I'll lend you and Alchemist my other car - it's turbo-charged - and you can take it all in again.

Julia: Hereford's equivalent of El Camino Real. Gosh, how sentimental I'm getting.

Avus: You should have have had the Bimmer on a trailer so you could have re-done it in style - especially the village with two right-angle bends in its midst.

Hattie said...

I just spent a lot of time, on a recent visit to Idaho, as a passenger in various "vintage" cars belonging to my brother in law. In the wide open spaces where gas is cheap, the roads are full of these old cars. The rides ranged from uncomfortable to intolerable. How glad I was to retreat to our rental Chevy!
But I am with you on Huxley. We're just starting to catch up to what he was writing about so long ago.
Oh, and happy birthday!

DuchessOmnium said...

Good job you didn't reveal this desire just before your next birthday. I have no int wrest in cars, but imaginative and thoughtful birthday presents are always charming.

Many happy returns of the day!

Rouchswalwe said...

Spotted! And may I say how happy I am that it isn't red. My good friend and I engaged in verbal combat not three days ago because of a Porsche. I've only ever ridden in a Boxster, and a thrilling ride it was. So when she told me that the best German-built car was an Audi, I told her I viewed Audis as old fogey cars and that she should rather set her sights on a Boxster. I'm so happy for you, BB! And I wish you a healthy and porschy Happy Birthday from the bottom of my heart!! I shall open a bottle of Brooklyn No. 1 bottle-fermented ale in your honour! Hoch soll' er leben! Hoch! Hoch! Hoch! ♪♫

Barrett Bonden said...

Hattie: Porsches can do wonders for an ageing ego. Even so my interest was predominantly technical. In most Porsches the engine is hung out out behind the back wheels which can make the car lethally unstable under certain conditions. Needless to day I never pushed the card hard enough to experience this; I lacked the bottle.

DO: Dangerous writing a piece like this. Makes me seem childish since I wasn't able to suggest I also read Proust. Actually, Proust is very strong on cars, way ahead of his time. There, I've proved I am not monocultural. But you're right: it was the thought (and the demanding organisational skills) that made this a wonderful present.

RW (zS): I find I am bestriding two horses. One of my earlier cars was an Audi Coupé which I must confess I once drove at an indicated 127 mph on the Ashford bypass. But when I was in my fifties. I am flattered by the bottle you have chosen to celebrate my Geburtstag. Very flattered.

Lucy said...

Ha, I must be a day late for your birthday, but wish you a hppy one anyway, and trust you are still basking in afterglow. The car looks quite small! It must give you a stronger sense of speed and danger, with enhanced proximity to the road and all. Looks and sound great fun, anyway, and how clever of Mrs BB to make it two days early.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: You're right about the smallness. The engine is at the rear and thus the bonnet slopes down sharply; the view ahead is framed by the two old-fashioned headlights. Occasionally it's almost as if one were running (very very quickly).