Long ago, cars were machines on wheels. Machines that were driven by controlled explosions of compressed mists of fuel in a row of precisely machined metal pots. Explosions that set heavy steel pistons smoothly in motion until they reached the speed of greased lightning. Like clockwork, mechanical systems let us regulate the power to the wheels of these mobile machines, brake them and steer. Understanding how it worked made you a driver. Driving a car demanded skill, talent and an understanding of the technology that drove it. Drivers were machine tamers – real men (and real women, too).
You don’t drive – you are driven.
For more than 130 years, visionaries, inventors, engineers and designers have been working on making cars faster, safer and more comfortable. With resounding success. But the tamer these cars were made, the more they lost the heart and soul of true machines. In the not too distant future, cars will be computers on wheels. Machines that draw their power from invisible magnetic fields and hidden induction coils. Anyone travelling from A to B in a car like this will simply press the start button and leave everything else to the computer. Cars like this are more like plastic (or carbon-fibre) pods. Pods packed with chips and sensors arranged in mathematically-designed circuits and systems with algorithms that rob you of even the last vestiges of independent control. You don’t drive – you are driven.
Driving is a sport.
Real drivers want to be in absolute control, they want to feel how the wheels eat up the miles and conquer the hills, valleys and corners of the road ahead. Real drivers feel the tiniest vibrations, hear even the quietest sounds that tell them whether their car is in perfect form. Just as they would read the feelings of a close companion, real drivers can read the sound of the engine and know how to respond – whether with a finely dosed bit of pedal to the metal or slamming down hard on the brakes. Real drivers are in complete charge of every inch, yard and mile they drive. Driving is in their bloodstream. It demands a clear head, perfect coordination of hands, feet and eyes and lightning-fast reactions. Driving is a sport.
An entire universe of emotions lies between turning the key and returning to the garage. A realm ruled by independence and personal freedom. This unique emotional high can be experienced at first hand in ultimate and unadulterated perfection only behind the wheel of a sports car.
The pursuit of personal freedom.
When the tidal wave of people and buildings finally brings the limits of our sprawling megacities to bursting point, there will be no more room for real cars. No one will accept or understand the need for their emissions, the roar of their engines or fast acceleration. The real car will become an anachronism. Real cars will be damned to drive beyond the city limits, on the forgotten ribbons of tarmac that once connected our cities. It will be a nostalgic act to get in a car and take a drive in the country for pleasure. It will offer a niche existence for real aficionados – comparable with vinyl records in the age of music streaming. Just as streaming owes its existence to an ancestry of radio and vinyl records, future mobility could not be imaginable without the perfection and sad demise of real cars. In principle, modes of ground transport will recall memories of the age of real cars, but they will never be able to compete with or emulate the unique thrills and fascination of real driving.
Instead, enthusiasts will dedicate themselves to preserving real cars with real engines to re-experience the days when machines on wheels still lived and breathed. They will race them and thrash them through offroad terrain. They will set out in pursuit of true freedom, the feeling that pumps adrenalin through their veins, that unique gut-feeling that goes hand-in-hand with power, speed and performance. A feeling of freedom engendered by motion that fills the heart and soul with unique satisfaction. They will set out to experiment, explore their own limits and discover how far their skills and talents can take them. In the future, real driving will be one of the keys key to sounding out the depths of personal creativity.
Keeping the cult alive will bring numerous loves, passions and addictions to light: devotion to the sound of engines, addiction to the smell of tyres, the properties of perfect steel, the finer points of engine tuning, memorials to the age of individual styling, the passion for DIY in-car music systems – in a nutshell, the customisation of the cult followers own vehicles will take some quite unusual turns. In awe, the fans will carefully insert compact cassettes recorded at home into car radios and listen to the sound of radio stations that bring back memories of the days when real cars and real drivers ruled the roads.
Which tracks would you pick for your ultimate real-driving Top 10? Real music for real drivers in real cars? Send us a playlist of the ten favourite tracks that make your drive a real driving experience.
Your last car will be a sports car. And maybe this could be your Top 10: