Wayne Batty’s Sim­ple Test for Car-crazi­ness

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - *The­p­lenum­cham­ber.com – you saw it here first!

It is often sug­gested that you can­not be counted a true car afi­cionado un­less you have owned an Alfa Romeo. Blame Clark­son for that, even if he could not tell an in­take man­i­fold from an ex­haust header – “Is this the turbo?”

In re­al­ity, it is only the most pas­sion­ate of Al­fisti who en­dure own­er­ship much be­yond the hon­ey­moon stage, but that is an­other story. Con­fes­sion: As glo­ri­ously pressed as most (older) Al­fas are, a nonex­is­tent ap­petite for fer­rous ox­ide and mushy di­nosaur re­mains means I have never ac­tu­ally owned one.

So, hav­ing fallen short of this nar­rowrange lit­mus gauge yet still as­suredly con­vinced of my petrol­head­ed­ness, al­low me to pro­pose a more all-en­com­pass­ing (likely ir­rel­e­vant) set of ques­tions to as­sess the real car-nut­ter sta­tus of a per­son. For a chance to join my myth­i­cal band of fu­el­ish friends, just an­swer YES or NO to each of the fol­low­ing:

1. As rub­bish as its rep­u­ta­tion for pro­vid­ing driv­ing thrills might be, would you jump at the chance to drive a Delorean? Hint: an­swer NO here, and you may as well just turn the page. 2. Do you in­vol­un­tar­ily ut­ter phrases

such as “ph­woar” when you see a Roth­mans-liv­er­ied Porsche? A 1982 Le Mans-win­ning 956 is de­li­cious enough but the 961 is an even rarer de­light. Please do not tell me you had to Google that? Next!

3. Do you chuff like a happy tiger when a late-1980s Saab 900 Turbo Aero passes you on the free­way, mes­merised by its tri-spoke al­loys, odd-ball pro­por­tions and pe­riod tail spoiler?

4. Do you have as much ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the doors of an Au­tozam (Mazda) AZ-1 as you do for those of a BMW Z1? Me­chan­i­cally tem­per­a­men­tal for sure but, for BMW cabin-ac­cess the­atre the pro­duc­tion Z1s drop-down doors are only bested by the gull wing ef­forts of the 1972 Turbo and 1999 Z9 con­cept cars. The lit­tle mid-en­gined tur­bocharged Mazda does not fool around ei­ther, go­ing full ‘gull’, with tiny wind-down win­dows within the win­dows, pre­sum­ably for pay­ing the Tokyo Bay Aqua-line bridge toll or col­lect­ing hi­bachi at the drive-thru. Can you say JDM?

5. Talk­ing about Ja­panese Kei cars, would you pick Beat over Cap­puc­cino? Of course you would. 6. Are you as fas­ci­nated by the Per­spex en­gine cover of a Fer­rari F40 as you are by the asym­me­try of a Nis­san Cube? 7. Are you prop­erly torn be­tween the Lan­cia Delta HF In­te­grale Evoluzione’s Com­po­mo­tives and the early Porsche 911s Fuchs when de­cid­ing which is the great­est al­loy wheel de­sign ever?

8. If some­one asks if you have heard of GNX does your mind con­jure the sin­is­ter edgi­ness of a mur­der­ous black Buick mus­cle car? Or, do you im­me­di­ately think of the dig­i­tal cur­rency of Genaro Net­work? They are both hard to put a fu­ture value on, but we would back the 276 horse­power Grand Na­tional ex­per­i­men­tal ev­ery time.

Okay, so, in the time-hon­oured tra­di­tion of mag­a­zines women find of in­ter­est, tak­ing this quick sur­vey will not change your life. How­ever, if you have reached this point only to ask ‘what the hell is he on about?” maybe it is time you bought an old Alfa. But to those who an­swered YES to five or more, wel­come to The Plenum Cham­ber.

Wayne Batty

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