Remember when 100 kw was enough to impress the neighbourhood kids?
OW long could you hold a wheelie on your bicycle, whether planned or at a moment’s notice? When you were a kid, how long could you balance on the back wheel while giving the front tyre air? The answer is “not long enough”, if my experience is anything to go by.
On a crisp 1980s suburbia morning, I had just noticed an alarmingly empty skyward-pointing front assembly, leading me to realise my BMX’S front wheel had detached itself...
Front wheel on a solo trajectory and exposed, bright-blue forks bracing for impact, I remember two things during the ensuing moment of clarity: how would I explain my imminent trip to the emergency room to my father; and, more importantly, would such a catastrophic failure have ever happened to the rider of a Mongoose?
While grateful for the bright-blue Black Horse BMX found under the Christmas tree that year, it was always the Mongoose-branded bikes in my neighbourhood that I coveted most. Whether it was their distinct paintwork, famed lightweight construction or appearance in the (surely) soon-tobe-classic 1983 movie BMX Bandits, it was seemingly always the guys on the Mongoose bikes who were catching the most air and the most attention.
I couldn’t tell you whether this bike builder still holds such a distinguished reputation today but, sprawled on the roadside watching the esh on my elbows and knees changing slowly from white to crimson, my overriding desire was for a Mongoose.
HYears later, after watching a rookie test driver launch a Volkswagen Golf into the air after nishing his glass of milk, my desires had matured somewhat. By then, my only remaining wish in life (besides, perhaps, a date with Cindy Crawford) was for a GTI to be parked outside my parents’ house.
And that brings me to what I really want to talk about: where are the Mongooses of the car world these days? Sure, there are the glamorous hypercars from the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and Mclaren to occupy boys’ bedroom-wall real estate, but where are the cars that these young people aspire to own yet, Mongoose-like, are always just out of reach? Where are the cars the cool kids drive, yet don’t truly appreciate, nor wash nearly as regularly as you would were the keys entrusted to an eighteen-year-old you.
With the level of performance and sophistication associated with the likes of the Golf GTI grown to heights that would today embarrass even Knight Rider, where are the modern warm hatches that are going to inspire youngsters to work that little bit harder at school, or get that weekend job to be able to just about afford them?
Am I completely out of touch and are the likes of the hugely accomplished and suitably brash Ford Fiesta ST and Opel Adam S the answer? Certainly both tick the right boxes in terms of getting the young (and, indeed, young at heart) excited, but with current pricing on both those models listed at more than R300 000, surely they’re too far out of reach for most teenagers?