While the project manager (aka Mrs Meaden) has the The Meaden Project running like a Swiss watch I’ve been doing my best to earn a crust to pay for it. As some of you will know my work involves driving cars and writing about them. While writer’s block usually has me staring at a blinking cursor into the wee small hours, I sometimes have to travel to some far-flung location or other, perhaps lodging in a fine hotel along the way. It’s a bitch, I can tell you.
Some of my more cynical friends and colleagues have suggested the recent upsurge in the latter is directly linked with our recent relocation to a caravan, and having to deal with The Meaden Project’s now infamous ‘Turdis’ toilet facilities on a daily basis. I call it a happy coincidence.
Whatever, as some of you are here because you like four wheels as well as four walls, I thought I’d share a few tales and pictures from what has been a slightly mad month, even by my warped standards.
August began with a trip to Sonoma in California to meet with the guys from Singer Vehicle Design. I’ve wanted to drive their ruinously desirable take on the perfect Porsche 911 for years, so to finally get behind the wheel of this exquisite car and drive it, er, spiritedly, on the road and at Sears Point race circuit for days on end was quite something. It’ll appear in evo magazine soon, so be sure to buy a copy, if only so you can keep me in the manner to which I’m rather too accustomed.
After a week in California I had a ton of writing to get through on my return home. Thanks for your sympathy. Fortunately things soon returned to normal with a visit to Silverstone and the Porsche Experience Centre to play with a couple of posh VW Beetles. Given the choice I think I’d have the black one. And the white one.
A few days later a bit of light relief from those dull old Porsches came in the rather lewd shape of an acid yellow VXR8 Maloo. I believe ‘Maloo’ is the ancient aboriginal word for ‘Knobwagon’, especially when fitted with the registration number DE51RED. Despite all this the ‘ute’ looked right at home outside our 35ft static mobile home. Worryingly by the time I took it back to evo I’d decided a black one, without the stupid plate and preferably with a supercharger and loud exhaust could be the perfect Fenbilly chariot.
After briefly living the redneck dream I had to leave the Cambridgeshire Lowlands for the Scottish Highlands, to drive a Ferrari FF over the Pass of the Cattle to Applecross bay. To be honest prior exposure to the FF left me somewhat bemused, but after two days storming around Wester Ross I have to say this V12, 660bhp all-wheel drive four-seater began to make a lot more sense. I’m still not wholly convinced by the way it looks, but I love the fact it exists. I wonder if Ferrari would build me an FF-based Ute?
While I was away in Scotland a nice man from BMW GB’s press office emailed to say he’d sent someone to collect ‘my’ 520d Efficient Dynamics long-term test car, but neither I nor the car were where we should have been. Oops. A new date was set and I reluctantly handed back the car. The middle management-mobile was never exactly thrill-a-minute, but it was genuinely enjoyable, surprisingly swift from A to B, and unfailingly did 45mpg even when being driven more dynamically than efficiently. That’d be most of the time then. I’ll miss it, as will my bank account
To provide a means of re-integrating me into profligate, petrol-burning society I’ve been relying on another four-seat, four-wheel drive monster for daily transport, namely a Porsche Panamera Turbo. No, it’s not pretty, but my God it’s a beast, devouring miles – and unleaded – like I chow down on a fresh packet of Chocolate Hobnobs. The £130 fill-ups smart a bit though. That’s for petrol, not biscuits, before any of you smartarses make a comment.
August ended as it began with a rather special car. Actually the most special car so far as I’m concerned: the McLaren F1. Spending time with one is indescribable, which is a bit of a bugger as I’ve got a 2500 word story to write by Tuesday morning. Suffice to say driving a car – insured for a career ending $6-million – in the pissing rain on gnarly Welsh roads has certain areas of your anatomy permaclenched. But then the sun shone and, well, I think you can guess the rest. Driving experiences don’t come any finer.
That is unless you own a ride-on lawnmower, in which case you’ll know all about the boundless joys to be had in cutting your grass at speed. As a total newcomer to sit-on mowing I’ve found the challenge of finding the optimum combination pace, blade height and racing line rather more absorbing than perhaps it should be. But then ‘Monty’ – our spanking new Mountfield 1436M (the M in this case standing for ‘Mulcher’ not ‘Modificato’) – is quite a machine. Naturally I have some Scuderia shields on order and I’m considering an Akrapovic exhaust system to annoy the (far distant) neighbours. My internationally famous mate Chris ‘Monkey’ Harris would approve on every level.
As a once-great magazine proclaimed on its cover, ‘There’ll Never Be Another Month Like This…’ If there’s one to beat August 2012 I’ll be a very happy man.