x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

The Air Bag: A special place for the cars in my life

How many cars have you owned in your lifetime? For some people, one car will last a generation; others change it up every few years. I fall into the latter class.

How many cars have you owned in your lifetime? For some people, one car will last a generation; others change it up every few years. I fall into the latter class. In all, I've owned 13 cars in the past 20 years of driving my own set of wheels. What can I say, I get bored quickly.

It's funny, sitting down and thinking about them all. Some are easier to remember than others, and I feel differently about all of them. Some are more dear to me than others, and for various reasons.

But that doesn't really have much to do with their performance or power. It's more about what they added to my life at the time, and where I was as a person when I owned a particular car.

My first car was, of course, special. I bought it for a mere $100 when I was 19, and my dad helped me do a few repairs to the beat-up, 10-year-old Toyota Corolla before a friend painted it bright red in my parents' garage. It was a dog for acceleration, it shook past 130kph, but I loved it: it was my first taste of motoring freedom. I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And, with whomever I wanted, too.

I also remember another beat-up Toyota a few years later; this time it was a 10-year-old minivan and I didn't even bother painting it. It was brown with primer red spots where I had to spot-weld patches in the body. But I was in my early 20s and that ugly thing took me on a wondrous road trip right across Canada and back; it was one of the best experiences I've ever had, and I'll always love the utility and freedom that minivan gave me.

Two of my favourite cars I've owned were old - a 1967 Chevrolet Biscayne and a 1965 Triumph Spitfire. The big Bisc was a land yacht, with soft suspension and a bench seat so large it could have doubled as a sofa. The Spit was a beautiful little car with dart-like handling and a great, raspy sound from the exhaust. They weren't perfect by any means, especially compared with modern cars, but I loved them both because they had oodles of character; I almost cried when I sold the Chevy, and a friend bought the Spitfire, so I know I'll see it again.

Right now, I have a car that I love dearly, a 10-year-old (are you seeing a pattern?) Alfa Romeo Spider. It's a sprightly little car and I love having the top down and the wind tossing my hair in the cooler months. There's nothing like driving a drop-top, in my opinion. Plus, among all the supercars and luxury barges I've driven in the name of testing, the Alfa is the only car I've ever owned here in the Emirates, and that alone has created a special bond.

But eventually, I know the time will come when I'll have to move on from the blue Alfa; life's like that, you know. Don't worry, I already have a long list of people looking to buy it off me.

But when I do decide to part ways with it, I know it will still hold a special place in my heart. Yeah, that might sound foolishly nostalgic and I'm OK with that. Cars tend to pull at those heartstrings when they play such a large part in your life. And I hope they always will be for me.