Remembrance of sounds past and a li­cence to kill-joy

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Re­mem­ber a song by GANG­ga­jang called Sounds of Then? It is – as well as be­ing a beaut lit­tle ditty – all about the way smells and sounds you ex­pe­ri­enced way back as a kid can rekin­dle some po­tent mem­o­ries when you sniff or hear them years, or even decades, later. Noth­ing new in the sen­ti­ment, I sup­pose, but it’s a phe­nom­e­non that re­ally res­onates (no pun in­tended) with me. Es­pe­cially when it comes to the var­i­ous noises made by cars.

There have been three new mod­els that I’ve sam­pled in the last 12 months or so that have struck ma­jor chords (no pun in­tended) deep in the Mor­ley melon and the some­times iffy mem­o­ries stored within that man­gled, mis­treated cor­tex. Each one of them has re­minded me strongly, ur­gently of cars from my deep, dim past. What’s in­ter­est­ing is that even though the var­i­ous pieces of ma­chin­ery they in­voke were hardly per­fect ex­am­ples of the car­maker’s craft, in ev­ery case, I’ve be­come a fan of the mod­ern car dig­ging up the mem­o­ries.

The first time this hap­pened was months ago when I drove the new Jaguar F-Type. But rather than the bel­low­ing, jun­ket-cur­dling V8, the one that grabbed me by the ears was the V6 ver­sion. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a 4.2-litre Jaguar E-Type at full chat with a ma­niac at the helm (that’d be me), but if you have, you can­not fail to be re­minded of the same when you stomp on the F-Type’s dan­glers.

I’m not gen­er­ally one to plump for the V6 when there’s a V8 on of­fer, but when it comes to F-Types, I was in­stantly in love with the lit­tle ’un. Weird, right?

Then, more re­cently, I got to sam­ple the new BMW M2. Now, BMW M-cars’ tech­nique of play­ing the ex­haust sound­track through the car’s stereo speak­ers has been the sub­ject of much angst re­cently. “Cheat!” we all cried and I, for one, have not changed my mind on that sub­ject. But which­ever way you cut the deck, I al­ways found the noise of the M3 and M4’s in­line-six more of a groan than a war­ble and I didn’t re­ally ex­pect any dif­fer­ent from the M2 given the lin­eage of the en­gine. But I was wrong. And I’m glad of that.

Here’s the rub: I’m tip­ping I could be one out and one back on this be­cause the en­gine of my youth that the M2 re­vives for me is the old Holden red mo­tor with a de­cent ex­haust. A hum­ble thing, I know, but one that has given me huge joy over the last 40 years. I’m sure BMW will be hor­ri­fied by this au­ral con­nec­tion, but for my large self, the link is not one to be ig­nored or pa­pered over; it’s a con­nec­tion that ab­so­lutely thrills me and makes me love the in­sane lit­tle M2 even more than I would have.

My third GANG­ga­jang-car was the new Porsche Boxster. The big prob­lem, of course, was that go­ing to a tur­bocharged flat-four meant the new Boxster could have sounded like a WRX. If you squint your ears, at some points the 2.5-litre ver­sion in the S-model kind of does. But the lit­tle two-litre base-model, to me, sounds enough like a tuned air-cooled VW Bee­tle en­gine to take me way, way back to my ques­tion­able youth and the heinous things we got up to in Dak-Daks. Again, I’m not sure Porsche will be thrilled to hear this, but it makes me love the base-model Boxster. It’s mu­sic

to my ears (pun in­tended).

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