I am a car guy, always have been, always will be.
I don’t know what exactly it is about cars, that gets me so excited about them, but since I can remember, I always was into cars. In my room at my parents house there still is a puzzle hanging on the wall, I built when I was in kindergarten or just started going to school. I depicts a Ferrari Testarossa, one of the first cars I ever fell in love with.
It was just the shape of that thing that got it stuck in my head. But as I said, I don’t know how I got into cars, but I know, why I stuck being a car guy, let me take you down memory lane a bit.
The day I got my driving license, my father handed me the keys to his car, so I could drive up to school and tell my friends I was allowed to drive now.
That car was an Audi S4 convertible.
I loved that car, and really, what’s not to love, a naturally aspirated 4.2l V8, manual gearbox, Quattro all wheel drive and a sound to die for when you accelerate. Even more enjoyable with the roof down. It was one hell of a car, I remember that when you stepped on the gas it took a moment for the engine suck in that petrol and rev up, not really a long delay, not like a turbo lack, but it was there. If you had passengers, there was just enough time, to put a smile on your face, prior to everyone else to know what was happening.
A little while later, I got my first Audi, an A3, a convertible as well.
It was a bit different as you might be able to tell (and oh, yes, that is how I looked back then), it had a little 1.8l 4 cylinder turbo engine, front wheel drive, but still a manual gearbox.
I will always remember this one, I had it fit with an iPod interface, so I could blast Springsteen non stop through the speakers and wherever I was, that car was there too. But that is not, why I will always remember it, the first time, a girl ever told me she loved me was in that car, the first time I broke up with a girl, was in that car and a couple of other firsts also happened it that car, but that is nothing to put on the internet.
What that car was to me, was the first step into independence, I could go wherever I wanted to and I did. I still remember picking up my first girlfriend in it to go for a skiing day and we drove about 400km in one direction to do so, something I definitely wouldn’t be doing these days, but we were young and crazy and we had a car, well, I did.
At that age if you had a car, the sky was the limit.
I had that one for a while and years later switched it to another used Audi. A different kind of breed.
What you are looking at here is an Audi S5 Coupé, a 3 liter, turbo charged V6 quattro monster and it was a mindblowingly good car. Just in case you ask, no, it had no floor lights, I just was very much into photography these days and simulated the effect with a remote flash. Actually that picture where 99 individual exposures I combined. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
Back in the day a friend of mine worked at Bosch automotive and since they made the software for the car, we hooked up his laptop and unlocked the hands free phone feature that was built in by default in these and just had a 500€ software lock on them. My first car modification of sorts. He also did miscalculate a binary value he put in, so the display always showed the right door to be open, when you opened the left one, but all in all, the retrofit worked like a charm.
It was the first sports car I ever owned, still a manual gearbox and honestly speaking, the best car I ever had. The acceleration and cornering this artwork of a car brought to driving is beyond compare, all the while still having a big enough booth and ski tunnel to make it a perfect daily driver. I also had this one fitted with an iPod interface (yes, those were around for a while) and it was the first car I had with a navigation system, speech control and a lot of other toys.
It also was the car that was at my side when I decided to move out of my parents house and into my own flat, it was the car that took me all over Austria on business trips and never let me down, it was the car that was my partner in crime in a completely new chapter of my life. It was just perfect.
I swear, my heart broke a little bit the day I sold it and saw it driving away with its new owner, we had gone through a lot of life and kilometres together and it was a bit like saying your final goodbyes to a very good friend.
But a new chapter in my automotive life had begun, I got my very first new car and I switched brands. I got a BMW.
I actually still have this one and I love it (now). It is way more sensible than the S5 was, and has a way bigger booth. This my friends, is a 2016 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé. The first car in my life with more than two doors. It is the car that got me back and forth when I had my first long distance relation ship and it was the car that helped me move that girl over to my flat, when she turned to be the first one I lived together with. By now, that car and I have been trough 130000km and quiet a few relationships. It is the first car I ever had trouble with, the first two years I had to take it in for repairs on a quarterly basis and almost sold it twice because I was pissed off by the problems it had. But the problems are gone now and I am glad I didn’t sell it. It is the car that moved me from my flat into my house, that carried everything from bricks over tiles to mortar during the renovation, moved all my furniture, tools and clothes.
It is also the first car I ever took to a racing track and after that, the first car I ever had to have the brakes completely rebuilt after ruining them on said track.
It has been a stable companion for 6 years now and as far as I am concerned I am not ever going to sell it, it is the last of its kind, a four wheel drive, petrol powered German car with a manual gearbox and no hybrid drive system. They don’t build these anymore.
Apart from that it is a really beautiful car and whenever I walk into the garage and look at it, I have to smile, it shared that garage with the next one for a few days.
My biggest mistake.
This my friends it without a doubt the most beautiful car I ever owned, a car that has been my dream car for many years. But as they say, never meet your heros. It is also the one that tried to kill me.
A 1990 Alfa Romeo Spider 2.0
I still am very much into oldtimers, cars from the 60s and 70s were so nice looking and Alfa Romeo kept that design up until the 90s. And if you look at it, you know why. For me there is no car from the past or the present, that could rival that one in looks, it is perfection. And it almost killed me.
If you remember the start of this post, you will notice that I started out with convertibles and my love for that kind of car is still strong, ever since the first time I saw one of these Alfas on the road it had taken my heart. If I were to be told I’d go blind the next day, the one thing I would ask for to see prior to it happening would be this car.
I had it for exactly 6 days. I bought it in Salzburg and drove it home on the Autobahn for 300km. What I didn’t know, was that the steering was about to break. When it happened I got lucky beyond believe. Had it broken on the Autobahn, you wouldn’t be reading about my car obsession. Had it broken one corner prior, you wouldn’t be reading about my car obsession and the same goes for breaking one corner later.
But the funny thing is, after months of almost needing new pants whenever I got to the corner it broke one me and flipped over, after realising how lucky I have been to not only still being alive, but walking away from that without a scratch, I still would get another one.
Just like my BMW this is the last of its kind, the last classic Italian car ever built, no electronic aids, no airbags, no thick pillars or anything, just an engine, a manual gearbox and a wooden steering wheel. And what an engine that was, just the sound of it. This is what it must sound like, when angels play trumpets.
The raw feeling of driving it, the connection to the road beneath and the world around you is completely different to anything a modern car offers you. It is like stepping into a time machine, no wireless phone connection, no digital gauges nothing, no automatic off for indicators, all analogue, manual and an actual key to start it, the kind you had to turn. The sound that old engine makes and how it just revs and revs and revs is just so much more enjoyable than modern ones, it has such a unique quality to it.
It is hard to describe driving a car like that, it is something one must experience to understand. And a hard break to the next and last car in this post.
My current company car
Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is an EV! (Also please notice the perfectly polished BMW in the background…)
A Nissan Leaf to be exact.
I am still not convinced that EVs like this are the future to be honest, there is a certain lack of joy to driving them and a couple of other issues, but one thing this little (actually not so little) Nissan convinced me of is, that owning an EV for daily driving is not really a restriction.
I can do all my routine driving with this car without having to think about range, without having to shut off heating in winter or anything else you read about EVs. No kidding, it is a good vehicle.
But, it’s not a car. You see, a vehicle gets you from A to B, but a car evokes emotion. However, a VW Golf wouldn’t evoke emotion from me either (unless it’s an R32), so this has nothing to do with it being an EV.
At the company we also have two Tesla Model S. Those do evoke emotion in me, but not the positive kind. I mean, just how moronic is it, to use a touch screen as the main interface in a car??
Anyway, back to the Nissan. This is my very first company car, and it just made financial sense to get an EV, since in Austria, you don’t pay taxes for EVs.
But there really isn’t anything else I can say about it, it is fine, but that is it.
So how did I get into cars?
I still don’t know, something within me is magically drawn to them since I can remember, there is just something about the way they sound, how they feel, how they smell that keeps me thinking about them as something else than just a machine.
I follow just about any car focused youtube channel I can find, I rejoice whenever the grand tour releases a new film and I own a lot of car movies too.
Ever since I got my license, I had a car at my side, I by now have driven almost everything from a motorbike to a truck and tractor. I even drifted a truck once, seriously. I went offroading and track racing, I drove EVs and V12s and I did do photography for the Austrian Ferrari club and I did and do the thing I enjoy the most, touring cars in beautiful landscapes.
The thing is, I don’t think I would be in my life where I am now, if I haven’t had a car at my side all those years, hell, even my job is car related. I make software, that helps kids get their driving license.
I am looking forward to the first estate car in my future, the one I will be driving to holidays with my wife and kids one day, the next car for the next chapter in my life.
I know, that cars aren’t deemed politically correct any more, I am aware how all the leftwing people want us to go by train and bicycle and get rid of anything enjoyable, including eating meat and flying on vacation, but somewhere, deep in my head, there still is that teenage boy turning the keys to start an engine for the first time in his life, experiencing the independence and freedom for the first time that comes with a car, kissing a girl for the first time and drive with her on the passenger seat just for the joy of it. And he comes out of the back of my head, whenever I hear a proper engine sound. And let me tell you one thing about him, he felt invincible and he won’t ever stop being a car guy.
Neither will I.