The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - BY ANDREW MACKAY

APART from truly ex­otic cars such as Fer­rari and the scin­til­lat­ing new TVR (on its way), most mod­els are pumped out like wash­ers – in man­u­fac­tur­ers’ line-ups they might be for all that Jock Tam­son’s bairns. One car, how­ever, is quite rare yet doesn’t cost the earth to buy. In fact, a brand new one can be ac­quired for the price of some Mi­nis.

The car I’ve been buzzing around in re­cently is the Subaru BRZ. Al­though it has a me­tal fixed roof, I like to think of this model as a sports car rather than a coupe. It has two doors, two front seats and the sculp­ture of two rear seats that don’t come with legroom. Un­der the bon­net is a petrol flat-four boxer chain cam en­gine linked to a man­ual gear­box that drives the rear wheels.

I took the BRZ down the M6, leav­ing at J37 to make my way towards the south­ern part of the Lake District. Re­mains of the past, such as where Wordsworth and Beatrix Pot­ter lived and where Don­ald Camp­bell died on Con­is­ton 50 years ago, can­not be over­looked. But best of all is how the jagged peaks are mir­rored in vast lakes, wooded fells give hill walk­ers a high-oc­tane boost and in gen­eral there is an air that the whole place is a hol­i­day park.

The lakes are mainly long and nar­row in pro­file and with moun­tains po­si­tioned to am­plify the strik­ing land­scape it is per­haps in­deed an area that’s best suited for rev­ellers in coun­try pur­suits.

The road net­work is con­tained to routes that wrig­gle by lakes and around the high lands and de­spite hav­ing a good book of maps in the car the ab­sence of satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and those vi­tal sign­posts at that very cru­cial time re­sulted in my di­rec­tion­find­ing abil­ity be­ing ex­posed.

It meant my well-in­ten­tioned vis­its to meet Jemima Pud­dle­duck and Cousin Ribby at Beatrix Pot­ter’s Hill Top Farm at Near Sawrey and to Hawk­shead where poet Wil­liam Wordsworth at­tended the lo­cal gram­mar school and lodged at Anne Tyson’s cot­tage in Red Lion Square be­came vic­tims of a wrong turn­ing.

I didn’t mind this too much as I was be­gin­ning to have a love af­fair with the BRZ, which ap­par­ently stands for Boxer Rear-wheel drive Zenith.

Subarus are cel­e­brated for hav­ing boxer en­gines and the Zenith part is pos­si­bly re­spon­si­ble for this car be­ing at a pin­na­cle. This hap­haz­ard guess may be slightly more ed­u­cated if you know that “Subaru” is Ja­panese for “unite” but is also the name given to the Pleiades star clus­ter thus the stars on the com­pany’s logo.

I am not in the open air with the fresh lake­land breezes swish­ing through my hair and I’m not en­closed in ex­ces­sive lux­ury but I am in a car that in all other re­spects is a true sport­ster. In front, a long bon­net, be­hind, a short tail. I’m in the mid­dle, low down, se­cure with a steer­ing wheel in my fin­ger­tips that’s ex­ceed­ingly pre­cise and with a cen­tre of grav­ity that’s lower than a Fer­rari 458 I have a ride that is the near­est I can imag­ine to be­ing in a go-kart.

The bonus of this is that lac­ing my way through passes and wind­ing lake­side roads con­veys some im­mense plea­sure as the BRZ grips pas­sion­ately to the road. Its gear­stick sits high and is de­light­fully notchy, road wheels cre­ate a sat­is­fy­ing din and the

en­gine roars like a bench saw that’s be­ing pressed hard. The ra­dio speaks to me as if from the bot­tom of a hol­low bis­cuit tin, re­mind­ing me this car is all about driv­ing and soak­ing up me­chan­i­cal sounds and feel­ing you’re do­ing 300mph when in fact the speedo reads 55mph.

My wrong turn­ing, with apolo­gies to Pot­ter and Wordsworth, re­sulted in com­ing across the Lake­land Mo­tor Mu­seum. It’s been cre­ated on the site of the for­mer Back­bar­row Blue Mill that at one time made the wash­ing ad­di­tive ul­tra­ma­rine pig­ment, of­ten called Dolly Blue. I dare say the some­time fash­ion­able blue rinse of many gen­teel ladies may have in­cor­po­rated a wee tinc­ture of this.

Lake­land has been clev­erly, thought­fully laid out to present cars and mo­tor­ing mem­o­ra­bilia. Per­haps more im­por­tant is that its ap­peal tran­scends in­spect­ing cars of a cer­tain vin­tage or prove­nance and so it is a joy to fol­low the pre­scribed route faith­fully to gain to­tal sat­is­fac­tion.

Al­though some cars are stars, such as Don­ald Camp­bell’s 1936 Bent­ley, a Se­cond World War Willys Jeep and a TVR al­leged to be the fastest ever built, I was more fas­ci­nated by the col­lec­tions of mo­tor­cy­cles and scoot­ers, in­clud­ing a video pre­sen­ta­tion of Isle of Man and John McGui­ness with his Honda CBR1000 Fire­blade.

This mu­seum suc­cess­fully steps back in time and has faith­fully recre­ated shop win­dows that fea­ture a book­shop, the Co-op­er­a­tive, shoe­maker, post of­fice, toys, hob­bies and a bou­tique all have au­then­tic con­tents. I was not sur­prised to learn there are more than 30,000 items on dis­play. In an­other build­ing is a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion to Sir Malcolm Camp­bell and his son Don­ald, who be­tween them cap­tured 21 world and land speed records in the Blue­bird se­ries of cars and boats. You can see repli­cas of the 1935 Blue­bird car, 1939 Blue­bird boat K4 and the ill-fated 1967 jet hy­droplane Blue­bird K7.

And so, with a resched­uled route, I made my way in a pen­sive mood north­wards by Win­der­mere on a hel­ter-skel­ter road that even­tu­ally passed by Ull­swa­ter and joined the M6 near Pen­rith. The Lake District is a beau­ti­ful area – busy yes, but there’s plenty of it for ev­ery­one to com­bine in har­mony.

The Subaru is not a par­tic­u­larly fast as sports cars go but it is ad­e­quate in per­for­mance and re­fine­ment, mak­ing all the right noises and mak­ing the driver feel in­volved. The BRZ model is sim­ple: it comes with a six-speed man­ual or six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and is avail­able in one level of trim, SE Lux. The au­to­matic is £1500 dearer. If you must have sat nav, sucker one to the wind­screen for £50.

The Subaru BRZ of­fered su­per­car sounds and rac­ing car pre­ci­sion as it laced its way around the south­ern edges of the Lake District

De­spite its fo­cus on en­gine roars and a lack of lux­ury op­tions, in­clud­ing a sat nav, the BRZ found its way to some of the Lake District’s most at­trac­tive spots

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