I have many early automotive memories. The first, unfortunately, at the age of 6, sat with my father watching some people in fast cars fly around San Marino. One did not finish. I never quite understood the enormity of the situation at the time. I think the confusion stays with me more than anything. It was certainly not the first time I had watched Formula 1, and certainly would not be the last; both my father and grandfather were fans, and thus I was to be indoctrinated as the Schumacher-era began.
Somewhere along the line, someone had the bright idea to put me in a kart. Never competitively, we didn't have the money, but a good way to shut me up was to drive 20 miles outside of Bristol (U.K.) and sit me in a kart and have me do circles for an hour or two. I believe this was initiated by my half-brothers father, who, weighing a good 100kg more than me, was less than pleased as I would regularly hang him out to dry on the final, sweeping, elevation-changing turn. Those were some good times. These were also my first experiences driving in the wet; my step-ish-dad taking revenge by planting himself right in front of me pre-puddles. My fondest memory of karting comes from being taken down to the south coast with my father. They have many an indoor kart centre to keep the kids busy during the rainy days (of which there are many). I had done a quick run and an adult checking his times turns to me and says "you must come here often then?". It was my 10th lap of the place. Thanks to doubling my weight in the past 10 years I doubt those times are within my reach any more, I may go out to a track here in Utah soon.....just to see.
That same step-ish-dad, a petrol-head himself, would take me off to hill climbs in the surrounding area, for me to watch while he wrestled a TVR out of the way of the seemingly magnetic trees. Of course my main worry at the time was finding 30 quid to buy a book on the legendary Group B Audi Quattro rally cars. My obsession with the book led me to tears however, as in my book-store haggling I had forgotten the car itself would be taking on the Prescot Hill Climb. Tears would follow.
I also spent a lot of time on Gran Turismo, amongst other driving games. Pre-GT my experience came down to throwing a Celica around in the mud on Sega Rally at the local arcade, and wondering exactly what a racing line was and why I wasn't on it in Daytona USA. Gran Turismo changed that. I can't say enough about the amount of knowledge tucked away in those games, and hours would be spent learning what various upgrades and parts would do to the car. Still young, the sum of this education was a virtual 900 bhp Viper. Quite silly really.
Hitting 16 in the UK meant acquiring a moped. A 49cc Yamaha Aerox, restricted to 30 - unless you took it up the conveniently placed hills and valleys outside of town. Throwing cash at this left me strapped for when the big test finally arrived - the British Driver's License exam. I don't remember exactly what car I learned in, some little Citroen, but whilst learning I went out and put 100 quid down for a '90 Fiat Punto with a cracked head gasket. This would of course turn into quite possibly the most expensive ashtray I, or anyone, will ever own. I couldn't smoke in the house, so I was confined to the outside - but now my 'outside' consisted of a seat, a roof, and a sound system that would ultimately be worth more than the car. I never had the money to take the tests, so the sound system was sold, and the car, which by this point had decided to shed its exhaust and throw it to the floor (a great surprise the morning someone comes to check it out with the intention to buy) was sent to scrap. Off to university I would go, no car needed up there obviously.
Skip forward, and I am now 25. In between I have driven a Honda CRV up in Montana (illegally), and I managed to stay on the right side of the road. I have also managed some gawkermedia fame, over at io9 they were kind enough to cover some of the fruits of my day-job (http://io9.com/this-dinosaurs…). But living in the States (Salt Lake, UT, specifically) it has dawned on me my WANT for a car has become a NEED. I pass my drivers test, failed on the Monday, perfect score the mandatory two days wait later. Now I drive my wife's automatic Honda Fit. I have been trying to love it, and it wants me to love it. However there is only so much love I can give to it. I admire it's attempts at luring me in with a flappy-paddle gearbox and 'sport' mode, and I do appreciate that the noise a Honda Fit makes when it hits 100mph will forever stick with me.....I've always been a fan of machines that need to will themselves to stay together on the road, rather than in pieces up a tree somewhere along the La Sal Mountain Loop.
But finally, it's time for me to complete this journey and acquire my first car. I've already asked myself what to buy, given the company here you already know the plan too. And whilst I had a down-payment saved up for my mx-5 (still refusing to call it a Miata), to my surprise (not really) the amazing credit that I had built up in the UK is worth precisely....nothing in the USA. Shame really. So over the next few months I will be dialling down my pipedream from an NC MX-5 to something a little more manageable cost wise. And by that I mean an NA or NB. At some point a refresher course on driving manual will happen, and next time I post, I sincerely hope it will be full of the elation of a good, no, a great dream, come true.