As you might’ve guessed by the lack of recent content on this blog, I’ve been busy lately. Shortly after establishing BlackBerry Buff, I was invited to write for BlackBerry Empire: an opportunity I happily accepted. Various other life matters later intruded, and to make a long story short, it began to feel as if I’d become distant from the automotive world I loved so dearly. But a couple weeks ago, I had the chance to rekindle that special connection between man and machine.
I was out of town with my family, making the yearly visit to the cottage: a visit which, if I’m brutally honest, I was reluctant to make. It meant abandoning friends for a week, abandoning the livelihood of the city, and yes, the comfort of my home. And all for what — some trees and a beach? I don’t even enjoy swimming!
Fortunately, we were accompanied by a guest from out of the country, so most of our time was spent showing her the sights, allowing me to get as far away as possible from that massive strip of sand everyone seems to like so much. This also gave me the chance to serve as the driver for the week, chauffeuring everyone from landmark to landmark.
The car at hand? My father’s 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara, equipped with the optional 3.2-litre V6 engine, a five-speed automatic gearbox, and a two-inch lift kit — not exactly the stuff of dreams. The steering is numb, the transmission always needs a minute to consider what gear you might want, and as a fairly tall car, the body will roll about in the corners. This car was not by any means designed for enthusiastic driving, and let’s face it — it looks precisely like the kind of car your hairdresser would drive.
But you know what? None of that really matters. Would I love to hoon about in an exotic sports car? Absolutely. However, as they say, it’s not what you drive, it’s how you drive it. I’d even add another line to that — it’s where you drive it. This opportunity to drive the Suzuki on the vast, empty roads of the north really brought out the soul in the car.
I must digress for a moment to discuss the automotive concept of soul. No, a car does not literally have a soul, destined to rise up to the big crusher in the sky. In my eyes, an automobile has a soul when the driver can really connect to it. When the driver feels comfortable with the car, and can look past its foibles to just enjoy the drive, that’s when the feeling comes about that this is more than just a car. It begins to feel like a living, breathing machine.
And I had hit precisely such a state of mind in the Suzuki. It’s entirely the wrong type of car for my liking: I’m a man of low-slung sports cars, and I certainly don’t make a good hairdresser. But despite all of the quirks, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. At no point did I have to stop and think about the terrible steering, the slow gearbox, or the tall ride height. I could just sit back and have a great time.
This brings me to the title of this article: what exactly is it that inspires us, gearheads, to drive? What is it that, on a Sunday afternoon, makes us grab the keys and just go somewhere? Is it that feeling of utter freedom? The thought of being in control of an engineering masterpiece? An overabundance of testosterone?
To be honest with you, I just don’t know. I was hoping to wrap up this article with a grand conclusion on why exactly we love driving, but after several days of pondering, I simply can’t put my finger on it. Yes, the freedom is lovely, I do admire the engineering, and perhaps there is an inordinate amount of testosterone in me. None of these, however, stand out as a definitive factor. I guess it’s just one of those things — you either get it or you don’t. And boy, am I glad I get it.
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