The view was utterly beautiful. Standing at the top of Mount Hotham in the Victorian alps, with the Great Alpine Road feeling reassuringly solid through the thin rubber soles of my shoes, little mountains struggled up from vast valleys and gullies all the way to the horizon, tinted a shade of smoky blue.
Large cumulus clouds, brightly lit by the sun, hung motionless in a richly blue sky. A slightly chilled wind reminded that winter was on its way, and this place would soon be blanketed beneath a thick layer of snow. But for now it was still a relatively warm 15 degrees and the sun, through the clouds, was felt as it warmed the black hoodie I was wearing.
For the first time in a few weeks, my mind was still. I had just clambered from a Ford Fiesta ST (the new one, which is utterly brilliant – read Scott Newman’s review here) and had that satisfying feeling you sometimes get after a really decent drive in a really good car. I felt absolutely keyed into it, perfectly aware of its weight, width, responses, right down to steering rack speed, power band and gear ratios. Mind still sharp, I felt like I’d taken some sort of calming drug.
And I thought to myself, everything is going to be okay.
Obviously, s**t’s pretty real right now. I can’t tell you what the world looks like as you read this because it’s possible it’s completely changed again, as it had in the week or two since I originally wrote this. Hopefully it’s changed for the better! This is a very surreal and odd time, affecting one and all. I can only hope that you haven’t been too affected, and that there is a very bright, warm and inviting light at the end of all this. Like anything the world has faced, obviously we will get through it, if not without a fairly large and lasting change.
What that means for the car industry, it’s too early to tell and a bit scary to predict. Factories are idling all around the world and cars are not being built. The Australian new car market was already a bit crook and now, well, that’s history. Economies are hurting; plans to buy expensive sports cars are being parked. Which will mean casualties – many of the cars you’ve been reading about for the last year or so that are ‘coming’, will be delayed, possibly for a very long time, possibly permanently. It’s too early to know.
On the flip side, among other positive things, it could mean an explosion in the popularity of driving sims and games. An office iRacing laptime challenge has emerged at MOTOR HQ, one I’ve not yet joined (to give everyone a fighting chance, of course). But given that people who’ve not had anything to do with driving games since Gran Turismo 3 have messaged me asking what’s the best one, and set-up, to buy, says much. For virtual full-berry-giving, it could be a new golden age.
And that’s part of our public service announcement at MOTOR in these weird times. Quite beyond washing your hands properly and not sneezing on people, start thinking about the next drive – to somewhere like Mount Hotham, Victoria.
Digital ed's Note: Our pals at Wheels have started a specific campaign for this very thing, the #driveafteriso movement. Check it out! -CT
The Adelaide Hills; or Thunderbolts Way, NSW; and wherever it is that people in Queensland, NT or WA go for long drives (I don’t actually know). But it has to be a long one; one that has you giddy at the start and sick at the end (of your car; not from a thing that happened because a dude in China ate a pangolin for last year’s Christmas dinner) because, as the Buddha said, nothing is better for the soul than driving a car until you can’t wait to get the hell out of it.
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