Friday, 18 September 2009

A Triumph

Last night, a group of us went to sandies to pretend we were dirt-jumpers. We messed around for too long and only got maybe 45 minutes of riding in before we were forced to abandon the mission due to bad light at about 19:30 (BST). Mind you, in that time Scully forced Matt and I into doing a new and scary (but in no way technical) step-up gap jump. However, for me the highlight of the evening was not the destination, but the journey*. Perhaps I should be more precise and say the vessel in which we conducted that journey, for it was a forty-year-old classic Triumph Herald saloon.

I am not a classic car enthusiast. I am a pretty typical man, and consequently that means I am certain to like at least four things: girls, beer, meat and anything with an engine. I just don't really see the point in classic cars. They are slow, inefficient, unreliable, awkward, and potentially dangerous. All of these points and more were proved last night by Stuart's Triumph. Surely the entire point of engineering is to make things faster, more frugal, reliable, convenient, and safe? If you can have these things then why look back without a hint of anger?

I can certainly think of more practical student cars, especially for a chap that spends his weekends throwing himself down Wales' most treacherous waterways. To strap a kayak to the roof involved some friction-mounting roof bars that look about as old as I am, and a long series of progressively more structurally unstable straps. Concerningly, the same method of attachment went for my bike!

In fact, there was any number of safety issues with the car. Inertia-reel seatbelts were not available in the front, and in the back there were no seatbelts at all. In fact there was not much of anything in the back, including leg room. Jim had to lie across the bench-seat like some desperate porn star. I became aware that safety features in the rear consisted of two pillows and a quilt. The front quarter lights were zip-tied shut (apparently as a theft-prevention measure), and perhaps most concerningly there was a potent and quite overwhelming smell of petrol when the vehicle was in motion meaning that both windows had to be constantly open. Not that this mattered as the cabin heater had to be run on full all the time to prevent the engine overheating.

The engine has as much power as Chad and the roof was as waterproof as the titanic. Yet, I didn't really care. I didn't care that there were places where you could see the prop-shaft spinning like a 10000 rpm death-trap. I wasn't bothered by the break-back seats or the fact that at over 40mph the entire car shook uncontrollably. I didn't even care about these things when I considered if I was lucky to have survived the journey. I loved that car. I loved the way that you could drive through town in the world’s most unsuitable cruiser with the windows wide open to avoid monoxide poisoning and the stereo belting out a pitiful half-decibel from an awkwardly tuned radio. And as you cruised through the countryside with a hand on your bike precariously leaning off the roof and gazed across the mammoth bonnet and formerly ostentatious headlamps you could not help but feel happy. A simple happiness. A happiness at the wonder of novelty.

*If the journey isn't as good as the destination, then you're doing something wrong.