Posted by: futurevehicles | April 27, 2009

Ride-along 2: A story of passion.

Driver name: Benny

Age: Early 20’s

Location: Eastern suburbs of Melbourne

Current car: 1984 Toyota Sprinter hatch.


In my view, there a two basic car driver categories. There are those who drive cars because they wish to get from point A to point B- and it goes without saying that the majority of the populus belongs in this category. Then there are those who drive cars not because they have to, but because they WANT to. No matter how expensive it may be to run, how much petrol it uses or how long they spend in peak hour traffic; the people in this category will almost always choose the car over any other form of transport simply because they enjoy the experience of driving and/or they have a passion for cars.

My second ride-along actually occurred around 1 month ago, but I felt that it was essential to write about it simply because it was so memorable. It was one of those moments in a car that ‘stick’- if you get my drift.

Ben is your typical twenty-something car enthusiast. He is a big fan of the modified Japanese imports such as Nissans and Toyota’s, and his choice of current and previous car is a reflection of this. At the start of the year, Ben was lucky enough to get a good price on a much sought after Toyota Sprinter hatch. This car has achieved cult status around the world thanks to its appearance in a Japanese animated series, as well as it’s lightweight body and almost infinite tuning ability.

The car remained stagnant for several months while Ben recouped the funds necessary to make the car roadworthy. While off the road we discovered that whoever had modified the car before us was an absolute imbosile- the wiring looked like a birds nest and the car appeared to have been assembled by a pack of howling Macacs.

A little more than a month ago, with the car still unregistered and unroadworthy, Ben told me to come over to his house to make sure the car didn’t set on fire when he turned the key. It did not set on fire fortunately. When the car was idling at a steady 1500 rpm for the first time in months, a glimmer of excitement lit up in Ben’s eyes.

“We should take it for a spin”, said Ben, who up until 2 weeks before this point had his licensed suspended for over a year for speeding.

“As long as we keep it to the back streets”, I said foolishly- knowing full well that I was at this point agreeing to become an accessory to a crime.

And so, quiet as a mouse (despite having a crater-sized hole in the muffler), the little Toyota spluttered up the steep driveway and out on to the street. I should mention at this point that the car had all of it’s interior insulation and trim removed. All that was left was bare metal and a visible hole in the firewall directly to the engine bay. IT WAS LOUD.

With my ears blocked and the smell of unburnt fuel already starting to permeate throughout the interior, Ben slowly idled the car down to the bottom of his street so as not to disturb his neighbours (Yeah…..right). Within seconds Ben had planted his foot to the floor and we were going well beyond the speed limit. The reliable little 1.6 litre 4AGE engine was singing loudly and the lightweight car skipped and jumped across the bumps in the poorly maintained road.

We flew over roundabouts as if they were straight pieces of road- joggers and people walking their dogs staring at us as if it was Osama Bin Laden and Benito Mussolini riding in the car. The little Toyota was obnoxiously loud, smelly and fast- and strangely enough- amidst all the smiling and laughing we were doing, we didn’t care that we were breaking the law or offending anyone in the process.

That’s part of having a passion for cars I guess: you would risk everything if it meant spending more time doing what you love to do.

When we returned home after spending a mere 15 minutes on the road, I sat Ben down and asked him,

“When you and i took the 86 for THAT drive- what did it feel like and why did you not care about the possiblity of being caught?”He thought about for a long time, responding:



“It felt exhilarating- partly because it was the first time in a long time I’d driven it; partly because it was the first time I’d sort of opened it up; and partly because there was a chance that i could have been caught.

That was exciting. It always makes things more exciting. I didn’t care about getting caught because, even though I was unlicensed, in an unrego’d, unroadworthy car, it was mine and i was driving it”.

What can one conclude from this adventure. I guess, first and foremost, we can conclude that for each individual, the car serves a different purpose. While for millions it may provide the daily commute, for each one of those million there is a whole other plethora of purposes that their car serves. For Ben, the car is a plaything; an object of self-expression that breaks conventional moulds of what can be considered a beautiful object.


In the context of a car, Ben is a rare-breed and probably worthy of more investigation. People like him, my brother and I appreciate the automobile not because it inspires social change or because of any other deeply philosophical reason, but because the humble car allows for us an escape- a place and a state of mind where the soul focus is the car and nothing else.


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