The Many Faces Of Automotive Freedom

I want to play golf. Not because I want to hit tiny dimpled balls around the countryside or that I fancy an all-argyle get-up. I don’t need to do important business deals and it’s not because I want to live the flash golf lifestyle either.

I don’t want to show off down at the country club with an expensive car and some professional-grade equipment, the sort I can’t utilise fully because I don’t have sufficient talent. Well, I do want the car and all the gear because, well, cars are great and fancy well-made gadgets, no matter what their use, are always a joy.

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No, I want to play golf because I want to buzz around a course in a golf buggy. How much fun do they look? I want to scoot around the gravel paths and yump over the rolling green hills, all while my caddy clings onto the back shifting their weight around like the passenger on a racing sidecar.

The reason I want to play golf is the same reason I want to be a gamekeeper, an airport baggage handler, a shepherd, a UPS delivery driver, a beach lifeguard or a fireman. Not because I want to do those specific jobs, and absolutely nobody wants to see me if they’re floundering in the sea or stuck in a burning building, but because they all involve cool-looking machines. There’s quads, buggies, shunters, pickups, vans, trucks and, of course, fire engines. Who doesn’t want to have a go in any one of those?


I’ve been living out a similar fantasy recently and pootling around on an old dumper. It has no right to be very amusing to pilot. It has a single-cylinder diesel engine that revs at, what I think is, 4rpm. There’s no tacho, obviously, you can just count each time it fires. There’s also no self-centring on the rear-wheel steering, and no obvious way of telling which way the steering wheel should be pointing, so you often find yourself veering towards the nearest obstacle. But still, getting it aiming in the right direction, desperately trying to perform a smooth gear change and bobbing along on its sprung seat, is all deeply, hilariously enjoyable.


Novelty plays a huge part in the dumper’s charms, as it would for the golf cart, quad-bike and airport vehicle too, I’m sure. But driving joys can be found in any car. And I really mean any car. Even that dreadful hire car you get lumbered with. Not the small, beat-up Fiat that the hire company loans out as a last resort, because no one’s disputing how much of a blast that would be. No, I’m talking about the one they give you when you get the dreaded ‘free upgrade’.


Never has the word ‘upgrade’ been so ferociously misused. Few other things conjure up the same feeling of dread as the moment the clerk hands you the keys, not to a tiny, basic hatchback, but to a fat lump of MPV/people-carrier/minivan horror. A vehicle that you have to drive throughout what is meant to be your holiday. A vacation that, from that moment on, feels like it’s going to be a chore.

It’s never as bad as you initially think, though. Because even in such an ungainly hideous carbuncle of a motor vehicle, can you have fun. I am sure of it; I know it’s possible. One year I was ‘treated’ to one of those ‘upgrades’ and I was ‘gifted’ the use of a Fiat 500L. I believe the L stands for large, which was fitting as it was certainly bigger than an ordinary 500. But even more appropriate would be the words lacklustre, lardy, lifeless, lame, lethargic and just about any other derogatory L-word you can think of.

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But still, loathe as I am to admit it, there were thoroughly enjoyable moments while I was squeezing that lumbering (add that to the list) mass down tiny mountain passes. There were little pangs of joy every time I heard its budget tyres squeal in submission around the merest hint of a corner, every time I was incredibly neat and precise to maintain as much momentum as possible while going uphill. And I was particularly proud when I mastered a heel-and-toe down change in it. It was a real challenge; the pedal spacing and the engine’s flywheel effect made it very tricky, and I probably only achieved one respectable rev match all week.


And that dumpy MPV was practically the least promising car imaginable. If you enjoy driving, you can find glimmers of satisfaction in just about anything. Some are easy to appreciate and serve up grins on an easily digestible platter. Some may just have a novelty factor. While others take some effort. My god do they take some effort, but there’s pleasure in there somewhere.

Will Beaumont
Instagram: will_beaumont88

Photography by The Speedhunters
Instragram: thespeedhunters

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Thanks for this article. I haven't driven much in my life (given I'm only 14), but I know exactly what you mean about enjoying something in every vehicle you drive. I enjoy driving out riding mower, an old Snapper model with handlebars and a 13hp Honda motor, firstly because it is almost impossible to shift correctly with that awful manual transmission, and secondly because, every time you shift gears, you have to hold down the clutch and brake for at least two seconda after, because the shifter lever is broken, and then, when you hear it click, you let of the clutch, then very slowly let off the brake, because if you don't, then as soon as that brake pedal is off, it will pop a huge wheelie. It's quite frightning sometimes, and sometimes I just let off the brake fast for fun. Not when I'm shifting to anygear higher than three, though, because that could get nasty. Often, when I'm done with the yard, I'll shift to the highest gear, and run over every root I see. The suspension is so stiff it makes my back hurt. But it's fun, which is the point, right?


Oh I forgot to mention, if you don't shift correctly (i.e. put the engine on choke at exactly the moment you let off the clutch), it will usually shut off. Don't ask me why, go figure it out for yourself.


I feel like you and I would get along just fine at the golf course. I don't own clubs, I don't bring clubs. I only want to drive the cart...and drive it like an ass. Try having a "high speed" chase with two golf carts that max out at the same speed. This article must relate to all us gear/petrolheads out there. Of my friends and associates, I am the wheelman. I'm the driver of anything with a motor and I take great pride in it. Some of the most fun to be had in a motorized vehicle is trying to master a lardy, frumpy, dumpy vehicle.





"Because even in such an ungainly hideous carbuncle of a motor vehicle..."
carbuncle, nice lol


This is why I love the car community it's very diverse that's the beauty


This is so Right

Sebastian Motsch

Driving the shittiest rental car yourself is always better than being chauffeured in a public transport bus or being in a train. :-)

Daniel Doelfs

If this aint the best SH article of the year, I dont know what is. Thank you!


Viva la diffe'rence!
I personally like period correct '50's vintage American hot rods. But if you study them closely, you can see the inspiration (e.g. engine-turned dashboards & lightening holes) from prewar machines like Bugatti, Auto Union, MB and Offenhauser.

Also, look at the similarities between Barris "Kustom" Mercurys of the '50's, Hispanic lowriders of the 70's (and today) mini pickups of the '80's and stanced JDMs of today!

Finally, take a look at Group B rally cars of the '80's and SCORE "Trophy Trucks" of today. :D

Steven Blazekovich

Whats the fastest vehicle on the planet?...
Whatever the rental agent hands you the keys to.

-Ghandi (probably)


Great little write up. So true. It is a badge of honour when renting a motor to have got to the point in the holiday (aka vacation in the US) and to be able completely disregard the clutch as a superfluous piece of equipment, a footrest at best (in any manual transmission rental) and only to be used when absolutely necessary - changing to reverse for example.
We've been staying on a hobby farm recently. The proprietor has a side by side farm vehicle. Best gear for drifting - 3rd. The vehicle is quite useful for farm stuff of course but this is entirely coincidental.


Nail on the head. My VW T5 with 158k, 2.5tdi 5 cylinder is so clunky and heavy to drive but the effort is rewarding— I’m actually driving and coaxing this thing round corners and uphills! It’s the thrill of driving- not what you’re driving!