(Excerpts from Peter Egan’s article)
I always imagine myself doing with a car is motoring. This is different from just driving around or even travelling comfortably from one part of the country to another.
Motoring, to me, implies certain sense of adventure in our travels and it demands a vehicle with some semblance of romance. More than that, it implies that we are intentionally driving across the countryside for the mere sensation of motion, or for the appreciation of interesting machinery and the unreeling of new vistas. Motoring seems to require modicum of charm in both car and the roads we choose, a proper platform from which to observe dips and ridges, small towns, stone bridges, curves and lakes. Above all, it asks for a car that begs to be driven when we really have nowhere we need to go.
For instance, it is possible to go motoring in a Morgan Plus Four on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I am not sure that driving your Taurus wagon from Indianapolis to Chicago on I-65 really qualifies as anything but driving. One is loaded with magic; the other is merely efficient and comfortable. One is romantic, the other is devoid of romance.
What is that makes one vehicle romantic, while another is merely competent?
Age helps, I suppose. It adds a romantic element of uncertainty to the trip. When I drove my 1963 Cadillac from Wisconsin to New Orleans, cruising two-lane Blues country of Mississippi with all the windows down on my hardtop and one elbow on the door, I was motoring.
Convertible tops are a factor, too. Any car on which you can throw the top gives you a chance to get beaten up by the wind, burnt by the sun and exposed to smells and aromas of the countryside. When you get to your destination at the end of the day, you feel as you’ve been somewhere. You’ve earned a drink and good dinner while you suspect the couple who arrived in air-conditioned four door sedan have not.
Mechanical decrepitude or unreliability is also a great boost to the romance of motoring which is why almost any British car, especially an old one, offers an immediate escape from the ennui and low status of mere driving. Reaching the destination in your 1972 Opel GT is a cause for celebration and it leaves you with a sense of astonished wonder and accomplishment unknown to driver of, say, a Lexus ES 300.
You need the car that is loud and windy and stiff in the springs. A car that makes you tie yourself to the desk, so you don’t plan pointless trips to nowhere in particular. The kind of car you might find parked in front of Toad Hall in the Wind in the Willows. Something that sits poised in the garage and hears the distant Lorelei call of the Great River Road, or highway 421 through the Appalachians.
Lorelei, a beautiful maiden who threw herself into the Rhine in despair and was transformed into a siren who lured fishermen to destruction and I hear her call again. She is calling me to make another road trip next weekend to Pennsylvania and Deutsche Clasics. Romance of destruction…