Thinking of candidates when you’re looking for a new car is both a joy and a pain in the arse. Dreams clash with reality. Mates drop suggestions. Everyone, regardless of their level of car literacy, adds their tuppence worth.
One mate, no stranger to firing off daft ideas for four-wheeled ‘investments’, recently struck home and struck deep. Normally, I’d expect something BL-shaped, left-field or so horribly sensible that I’d bin the email straight away – but not this time.
Upon opening the link, I was transported back to the late Nineties when, as dep ed on ‘Fast Ford’, I attended a Ford-heavy race meet at Castle Combe. The event itself would doubtless have been totally forgotten were it not for two things.
The first was my transport, a blagged Ford Racing Puma – and not just anyone but the first, No. 1. It was great fun in that old skool unruly Ford way. The fettled Zetec SE screamed while the widened tyres and track, made any road with a slight sniff of camber a genuine white knuckled, sweaty-backed encounter. Okay it wasn’t really fast and its build quality was rather approximate, but it looked sensational. I would have been totally captivated were it not for the car which belonged to a race official.
The second reason for remembering this track session was a familiar Honda – a DC2 Integra Type-R – that had been driven to the Combe and had been on and off the track all day, punishing many of the XR2s and XR3s in the process. It got me thinking. Yes it looked terrible in relation to the FoRa Puma, but the pay-off was that VTEC motor. This thought stuck in my mind, waiting for a chance encounter at my local Honda dealer.
After gleefully spotting a Championship White specimen and booking a test drive, I was greeted by a vacant stare – there had been a cock-up. There was no-one to accompany me and would I mind taking the ’Teggy out solo…? Oh. Dear. Oh, alright then, but only to help you out of a sticky situation…
The next hour was possibly one of the best ways I’ve drained a petrol tank. It was a fantastic machine – a rare combination of great engine plus great chassis and excellent steering. Its only problem was that the nose went light at er, ooh, ahem miles per hour.
Of course I over-ran and yes, the dealer was mightily relieved to see the car return in the shape Honda intended. Could I afford it? No. Not even with bloke maths and that was before I’d even thought about insurance premiums or fuel costs.
Today, it is tempting to revisit that shovel-nosed realm of 8500rpm and beyond, but those cars which haven’t fallen victim to the booyaka-sha brigade end up being brutally spanked around a circuit in, say, Germany. I can’t complain about the latter because it’s exactly what I’d end up doing.
So what I really need is a little old lady who made an ill-informed decision at the hands of a heartless Honda dealer and who is now on the look out for new car herself.
Dear Father Christmas…