As 80s Goths, and way before Crips in Cars, we thought we were outrageously cool in my Jaguar-Daimler
Ithought I was outrageously cool when I had my Mark II JaguarDaimler. It was born in the same year as me, 1965, and, unlike me had a 2.5-litre V8 engine with a borg warner gear box, state of the art in its time.
I bought it with a suspensory loan from what was then Social Welfare. I was always determined to drive. My parents bought me a go-kart when I was 14. I did a disabled driving course run by the AA soon after I turned 15.
The instructor was patient and a Christian. He prayed a lot during the lessons.
The suspensory loan was like interest in reverse where an amount of the loan got deducted every year, ending in five years. Not long after I bought the car they changed the rules, so you could only buy a car that was under 10 years old.
It was hardly practical, but Sally and I were 80s Goths and, as I said, we thought we were outrageously cool. It seemed to hug the road when I drove it over 140km/ h.
I have had a few cars. My first was a Honda Civic which was the first Civic that Honda made. I thought I was outrageously cool (inexplicably, I thought that a lot) just before I pulled the hand brake on going at 80km/h on wet tar seal (I was 15).
I had a Ford Escort Mark II. It was burnt orange with a beige vinyl roof. We thought we were outrageously cool when I was driving my friends to a luau-themed champagne breakfast from little Huia in Auckland’s Waitakeres.
That feeling didn’t last long either when it caught fire and dragged me down a very long hill towards the dam with me hanging out the door attached to the car by the seatbelt.
I had a 5-litre Holden Commodore. I thought I was outrageously cool in that until it overheated and blew up at the top of the Brynderwns. I was with my two daughters aged seven and three. Cellphones weren’t prolific then.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love driving. To me it is like a level playing field.
My driving these days is very sedate. It has to be. I drive the death run gauntlet between Ruakaka and Whanga¯rei every day.
This didn’t stop my friend Shirl from going into a fight-or-flight episode the other morning when we were headed to Auckland. Although I have known Shirl for a long time, she had never actually driven with me.
“I’m driving,” she said.
“No,” I said. “I am driving.”
Her eyes went dead. She dropped her shoulder, she had the look of a Saxon warrior. She’s 6ft tall.
“Give me the f*****g keys,” she said.
I had to think quickly.
“Look,” I said calmly, “I have been driving for 38 years. It will be all right.”
There was a short silence, then: “Okay, you had better bloody not kill me or I will kill you.”
The outrageously cool kids at Attitude TV have recently put together a film series called Crips in Cars. They sent me the trailer.
It’s ingenious, showcasing conversations between two people at close quarters — driving around in a Mini — with enough going on in the background to take the edge off the intensity that close quarters can evoke.
At first I involuntarily flinched when I read the word “Crips”. Some words just do that to me. I get that minority groups do reclaim words that have been derogatory in the past to reclaim the power from them. The gay movement in the 90s reclaimed the word “queer”.
Reclaiming is going through a revival.
My driving instructor was patient and a Christian. He prayed a lot during the lessons.
Choice wheels, dude.