What Car Would You Choose To Impress A Date?

I like to ignore all that commercialisation that is Valentine’s Day by turning the feelings in my heart onto cars. It’s hard to ignore the fact it’s the day of love, what with all the stores raping the public by selling roses cards and chocolates. In fact, as I stood in line at the supermarket buying lunch, I noticed all the men – roses, chocolates and wine in hand -all looking a little peeved.

Anyway, after I got home I quickly knocked this out for Motor Ward whilst I devoured lunch.

Valentine’s Day: Sexy And Romantic Carriages

The Dead Travel Fast

I don’t know why I haven’t touched upon this subject before, as it’s not only about cars, but the subject has had friends, family and anyone in earshot laughing and intrigued to hear more. It’s a morbid subject, but a subject we all must experience at some point throughout our lives.

Dracula author, Bram Stoker once wrote, “The dead travel fast”, and after working as a Funeral Director, I wholeheartedly agree.

Ever since I watched the 1933 King Kong as a four-year-old, I have been fascinated with the weird and morbid. When I was 22 I got a job working for a funeral home, a job I fancied would satiate my curiosity about death. When I wasn’t making up coffins, I was dressing and brushing the hair of corpses. When I wasn’t carrying the coffins, I was sneaking into the back of the crematorium to watch them burst into flames through the little glass window in the ovens. When I wasn’t washing the hearse or private ambulance car, I was driving them…

I don’t believe in ghosts or anything paranormal, however, I do wonder if something was having a little fun with me when I decided on this profession. During my whole year before giving it up, too many odd events took place, a few of them car related. If you image Norman Wisdom or Harold Lloyd within the workplace, you have a pretty good idea of how ‘smoothly’ my day would go.

The first incident took place in a Volvo 745 estate and involved a granite headstone nearly cutting me in half. I’d loaded a fresh piece of black granite into the car to transport to an engraver. I was young, the summer sun was beaming down, the country roads stretched ahead…

Perhaps going a little too fast, I rounded a tight left bend and then happened upon a car that had stopped due to ducks crossing the road. I hit the brakes and the headstone launched itself into and smashed the central console. If I were on a straight or traversing a right corner, I believe my name would’ve ended up on that piece of granite. Thankfully the boss was on holiday and I managed to piece together and glue the console.

It wasn’t long before the Volvo got me in trouble… or was it something else?

Having picked up a body from a hospital 20 miles away, I was returning on the M23 (for any non-UK, a highway road). It was Friday, dark, wet, and I was looking forward to an evening out with my mates. With me hauling in the fast lane, the stereo pumping, everything suddenly died – no lights, power-steering or engine. It was as if the body in the back disagreed with the music and reached out from the land of the dead and pulled a plug in the ECU.

It was rush hour, and I somehow wrestled the Volvo across three lanes of traffic, dumping it on he shoulder at an angle. After ringing recovery, I sat there with my silent friend, the rain hammering the windscreen. I noticed my friend’s permed hair sticking out of the bag, as if reaching for the handbrake, so I tucked it back in. A further 15 minutes passed and I also noticed no traffic, despite the rush hour.

The reason the lack of traffic was due to the Volvo’s rear end protruding into the slow lane. The police had blocked off all lanes with traffic cars, their lights flashing as the cars trailed for miles behind them. One car approached and there was a knock on my window.

“Evening officer.”

“We need to get you off the road. Anyone else involved?”

“Um, only me and… her.”

The officer peered in. “Oh right… I see.”

The final Volvo incident had me believe it was definitely cursed. I’d just picked up a corpse from a hospital in Watford, London. I’d literally turned out of the hospital when the front passenger side tyre popped. Because I was on a steep main road with no where to turn off, I had to curb it and attempt a wheel change on an uneven surface. To get to the spare and tools, I had to wrestle with the gentleman in the back, tipping him, holding, and then dragging everything out.

Whilst it wasn’t raining as hard as the previous episode, it was drizzling. I was wearing my suit and waistcoat and cursing the weather, oily tools and stubborn wheel nuts. The real problem became apparent when I realised it was school home time. Thanks to a combination of fury, despair and embarrassment at the line of traffic now queueing to get past, I’d left the boot door open. Kids were staring into the car, pointing and laughing at the gentleman (now half wrapped) in the back. Wide-eyed parents gasped their disgust at me, giving me evil looks because of my foul tongue.

All in all it was a terrible afternoon and it wasn’t too long after that I quit.

The only driving positives involved the hearse. Because it was designed to carry four men, a heavy coffin and its occupant smoothly, the hearse had a fair kick when it was empty. Obviously, I didn’t race around with a coffin in the back, but if I was sent out to refuel, I did like to give it some.

One day, I’ll be taken away in one of these, and whether it’s traveling North or South, I hope it’s traveling fast…



Hipster Appeal, Petrolhead Heaven

If you’re unsure as to what a Hipster is, just think ‘Hippy’ with a little extra cash and a better haircut. The Hipster subculture takes elements of 1940s fashion and is derived from a movement from the same era. Hipsters are usually aged between 18-34, including the middle-class adult. You’ll never see a Hipster wearing mainstream clothing; they prefer thrift/vintage stores for that authentic look. Indie bands and labels are their choice of music. Sustenance would come from an independent sandwich shop or cafe and most definitely not a McDonalds or Burger King.  In one sentence, a Hipster is an independent thinker, possess progressive political opinions, appreciates art and creativity, intelligence and witty banter.

Most Hipsters prefer bicycles (especially fixed wheel) for transport, however, those selecting an automobile go for 80s, boxy and usually European. Mercedes are a good choice, but the king of the Hipstermobile is the Volvo. Take an 80s Swedish car (preferably a wagon/estate), remove the hub caps, add ironic bumper stickers and voila. Those willing to spill a drop or two of oil onto their vintage tweed or chequered shirts may even slam it.

Now this is where the second part of the title comes in. I agree the 80s boxy cars are fantastic looking and becoming fashionable again – think BMW E30 – and whilst I like the Hipster fashion and some of their attitudes and perceptions on the world, one of my biggest Hipster downfalls  is my lack of sympathy for the environment – the closest I’ve come to the whole wagon revival is owning a tuned 235-bhp Subaru WRX wagon.

Hipsters are P.C. in every way; they are open-minded and carefree. They wear sensible trousers, and horn-rimmed specs are a prerequisite to join the club.

So how would I fit in with my need to hoon whilst maintaining that Hipster vibe?

Okay, that’ll do nicely…

A Volvo Geography Teachers Don’t Drive

Yep, Gargling Gas has a massive love of powerful wagons, especially ones that can slide and kick up a load of smoke.

Take this Volvo 240 Wagon, for instance. What was once a vehicle fit for families or corduroy and tweed clad teachers has been modified into the beast you see above. This creation was thought up and built by Marc Huxley, who operates as Huxley Motorsport out of Worcestershire, England.

Take a look at the article and excellent pics and understand what it takes to turn something innocuous into something completely evil.

More Wagon Action