Hello Oppo. If people are interested in my tales and shouting at cars from the euro landmass, i intend to post some in the future, consider this my welcome post. Normally i write reviews about computer components for a local internet publication, but not much happens in the world of graphic cards anymore and honestly cars are much more interesting.
So i live in Denmark, the country that prefers you spend your time in public transport, and actively tries to force you to do so. As we know everyone loves hearing about some girls yeast infection, while waiting for the train. It's equally lovely to catch a cold from the smelly dude sitting next to you. To top that off public transport is always late.
The alternative is of course to acquire an automobile, now there is two problems with that. One petrol is $8.16 pr. US gallon and that's expensive. Two cars have a 105-180% registration tax on them, add on to that a sales tax of 25%, an emissions / owners tax, and all of a sudden pneumonia and the train sounds like a great idea!
To put it into perspective, let's compare prices with the UK. There a Golf 1.4 liter with 122 HP and 5 doors will cost you 26.377 dollars, the same car is 53.849 dollars in Denmark with less equipment… Great! Or what about a Ferrari 458 at just 763.000 dollars. Exiting cars then are rare here, the best selling car currently is the VW Up! Sporting 60 Hp it's a tad more exciting than morning bowel movements. Okay so the Up! is actually the best microcar out there, but it doesn't do much for most car enthusiasts.
So what do you end up driving, in this country of car depression? Well in my case a Toyota Carina E. If you are American this car will be unknown to you, but imagine a Camry with less power, or even better here is a picture.
Note the pictured car has
tasteful aftermarket hubcaps.
Fascinating right? Under the "hood" lies a 1.6 liter 116 hp engine that will undoubtedly last longer than Stonehenge, but isn't nearly as interesting. This engine is so un-powerful that aircon wasn't even an option, nor was an automatic which, to be fair, is actually a good thing. It is so boring, that Clarkson once drove one straight into a concrete pillar, on purpose.
This then is just another dreary 90'ies shape, an a to b form of transport. That said as a car you can't possibly fault it. In 20 years it has never broken down, only once when the original battery died didn't it start. For average John down the street it's perfect. As a car enthusiast however, you will quickly notice the ridiculous body roll, almost throwing you out of the seat during any sort of spirited driving. The lack of a rev-counter also becomes apparent, when you notice that the promised 116 hp is only available, when the engine noise starts to make your ears bleed. Due to it's reliability though the Toyota is likeable, it's a trusty old friend and even though boring, it's always there.
To kill the last hope of car enthusiasts, it is illegal to tune a car more than 20% above standard horsepower, also turbos and superchargers are not allowed, unless fitted from factory. And to kill it off, if you do decide to drive your car into Copenhagen, parking is 2-6 dollars an hour.
So cars are expensive to buy, drive, own and park. This explains why seeing a relatively cheap Toyota GT 86 (FR-S) is very rare indeed. It also explains why bicycles are so popular, and it's not because we are trying to save the planet, although everyone else seems to think so. So while american car enthusiasts are complaining about the 25 year rule, i'm barely allowed to fit an aftermarket air filter. Hopefully everyone else understands how good they have it, after reading this.
To work around the enormous taxes, Car enthusiasts tend to drive older sports or cheap micro cars. Most people trade traditional high power and rear wheel drive, for front wheel drive 100hp hoonage. But as we know from Top Gear, small cars can be fun to drive.
I've just driven the new Toyota Aygo and while it isn't a very good car overall, it is hilarious to rev the 0.9 liter 3-cylinder engine, until the valves pop out. It really drives like a big go kart, especially around tight corners and empty city streets.
That said the car completely gives up at 40 MPH, where only 69 horsepower is insufficient, then it goes back to feeling like soggy eco salad. 0-60 takes 14.3 seconds and any acceleration, is accompanied by what sounds and feels like, a brick being tossed around in the engine bay. It does get 62 mpg, and was the best selling car here for 3 years, until the even slower (but better) VW Up! was launched.
So you may, or may not, be wondering, how do you become a car enthusiast surrounded by rather boring cars? Well i really don't remember why i liked cars, i just did. What i do remember, is the first time i saw a picture of this.
It's still the prettiest thing i've ever seen, and exemplifies how a car can be more than just transportation. As art it's more beautiful than the Mona Lisa, and i've seen her at the Louvre. In its time it was one of the fastest cars in the world. The handling is praised by everyone who's ever driven one, and the noise emanating from the exhaust rivals Ludovico Einaudi on his best days.
In the eyes of average John, a GTO is terrible as a car, there is no rear seats, the trunk is full of spare tire and don't mention miles per gallon. But in the eyes of an enthusiast, in my eyes, that 880 kg (1,940 lb) lump of metal is damn near perfect. It is sad then that like supermodels, chances are practically zero, that you will ever get to take one for a spin. But at least we get to look.
Toyota Aygo: "2014-03-04 Geneva Motor Show 1468" by Norbert Aepli, Switzerland (User:Noebu) - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2014...
Ferrari 250 GTO: By J.Smith831 (Ferrari 250 GTO) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa...], via Wikimedia Commons
(My real name is Emil, I review IT for a small internet publication in Denmark. Trying to hone my english skills and get into car journalism, i've decided to write about anything car related here on Oppo, so some friendly feedback is always welcome)