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Words by Andrew Taylor, General Sales Manager at McLaren Toronto. 

 

andrew-taylor-rediscovers-his-drive

As anyone who knows me will know, I’m kind of crazy about cars. I went so far as to take the leap and change industries in my 30’s so I could work with my passion on a daily basis. Many thought I was nuts, but I’ve certainly never regretted the move.

In the past 14 years I’ve been lucky enough to driver virtually every type of car imaginable, from every manufacturer. I’ve been lucky enough to own cars I never thought I’d be able to drive, let alone own. I’ve driven cars on the track that I’m sure I had no right being anywhere near!

Sedans, trucks, SUV’s, hatchbacks, sports cars, classic cars, super cars… even hyper cars. I’ve been truly lucky to experience the kinds of cars most people only see in magazines or on an episode of Top Gear.

I always thought that eventually I’d become jaded, immune to the allure of cars. But my passion seemed to never wane, whether it was a Porsche or a pick up, I’d find something redeeming about that vehicle.

Except for the Oldsmobile Alero, there was NOTHING redeeming about that vehicle. But that is a whole other story…

As a car guy who gets to drive all these vehicles each and every day, choosing your own vehicle is a tricky proposition. Looks, price, power, practicality, reliability, resale value. One car to use all year around, or two cars, one for winter, one for summer? Lurching from combination to combination trying to find that perfect fit.

Add to that the advent of more and more technology being poured into the cars making them faster, smoother and handle better but, dare I say it, be less interesting to drive. Maybe it’s because I drive such amazing sport and super cars on a daily basis, but over the past few years I’ve struggled to find a car in my snack bracket that makes me smile when I drive it, that has that giggle factor. Perhaps I had become jaded. Perhaps I wasn’t a real car guy any more…

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to travel to Wales for my cousin’s wedding. We decided to make a road trip part of the event. Landing in London, we rented a small manual economy hatchback for our wee road trip.

Driving the dual carriageways in the UK is much like driving B highways in Ontario, but with round-abouts. The little hatch-back was under-powered, over-sprung and had an uninspiring manual gearbox. The seats had zero support and were far too soft. This was a long way from the McLarens and Porsches I was used to playing with in my day job. But driving this little vanilla mobility device (VMD) had me grinning like a fool. This was fun… this was really fun.

The cars and roads of the UK may be smaller than in North America, but drivers certainly don’t hang around. Keeping up with the 80 mile an hour traffic on the M4 highway has this little hatch-back doing ten-tenths and had me using the entire rev range to keep up. I was using ALL the power this little engine had, ALL the traction of it’s tiny little tires, and ALL the brakes going into round about after round about. This was driving, this was fun. Each drive was an adventure; the cutting and thrusting of traffic in London and Cardiff, the meandering through stone wall lined and (incredibly) narrow lanes of Llantwit Major; I had my driving mojo back!

This was a whole other world from hitting cruise at 120 km/h on the 401 and sitting still for the next four hours, patiently waiting to get to my destination. So, what did I do when I got back home? I got rid of my over-powered sports car and got myself a little manual Volkswagen GTI. Now I drive the B roads more than the 400 series highways. Now I can drive far closer to the limits of my little car. The little engine sings away, the tires chirp in the corners, the little GTi dances over uneven surfaces and feels down right alive at 5,000 rpm. My commute to and from work has become a lattice of side roads and concessions, searching for moments of driving perfection. Feeling the edges of the car’s performance at relatively low speeds. Getting to work with that little self-satisfied grin on my face.

Once again I enjoy the drive, for the sake of the drive.