Want to be better driver? Drive a classic car for a week

Sunday, January 15th, 2017 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Want to be better driver? Drive a classic car for a week

If you drive an old car, you need to keep your wits about you. So why do drivers of modern cars drive so badly around them?


I still own my first car.

the item is usually a 1967 Morris 1000. the item has around 48bhp, 61 lb/ft of torque along which has a top speed of 73mph. I say around, because at 48 years old, the item has earned the right to have lost a little vigour. the item is usually dogged, rather than fast. Tough, rather than exhilarating. 

The Minor was the first car I drove on my own. As a youngster, I went as fast as I dared inside item, which, given the modest power, was rarely enough to break a speed limit. I span the item, hit kerbs, clipped the odd parked car during poorly executed parking manoeuvres along with basically conquered the poor driving techniques along with habits which come with inexperience. All of them at low speed along with in relative safety. the item simply wasn’t fast enough to get me in real trouble.

At the same time, my mates were having far more serious spills in MkII Fiestas along with Vauxhall Novas, which happily they recovered by, even if their more powerful, more fragile front-wheel-drive motors didn’t.

As I got older, along with owned more cars, I came to appreciate the Minor for its ability to communicate exactly what the item was doing, even when travelling at walking pace.

My Morris Minor has disc brakes on the front, which is usually an upgrade by standard, although there is usually no servo assistance. Any force you apply to the brakes is usually transmitted directly along with the item’s a very manual process. Press too hard along with the brakes lock up. Don’t press hard enough along with you will hit something. Slowly. 

The clutch pedal is usually a similarly analogue affair, attached to the clutch fork along with Discharge bearing by a threaded piece of steel. No hydraulics or cable operation to smooth things out. You need to carefully balance the millimetres (actually, the few thou) between a kangaroo start along which has a stall. which said, the unassisted steering is usually actually thoroughly modern in operation, being light along with direct, although drive over a lolly stick which has been left inside road, along with you’ll feel the item ripple through the rim of the spindly tiller.

All of This kind of meant which, as a young along with dumb driver, I at least got to recognise what your vehicle was doing, along with what I was doing wrong. the item taught me to drive, long after I’d handed my L-plates back. the item’s which closeness, which affinity with This kind of humdrum little saloon which means the item has never been sold.

Like a lot of people with old cars tucked away, I don’t use the item as much as I might.

There are few less intimidating things to see on the road than a Morris Minor, although despite This kind of, drivers of more modern cars seem to treat the item, along with me, as something of a threat. People pull out in front of us, cut into the lane we are in along with refuse to merge in turn. Drivers will literally take their lives in their hands to overtake on B-roads, even if I’m keeping up with the various other traffic.

If you drive something old, you sort of come to expect the item. inside natural hierarchy of road users, old cars are at the bottom of the heap. The truth is usually, though, like so many folk driving things which are more challenging to pilot than a modern supermini, you have to be a better driver, rather than a worse one, to get to where you are going.

Recently I spent a week driving the Minor by home to Autocar’s suburban London office, along with in which time something tangible happened. the item made me a better driver.

In saying better, I’m not talking inside ‘locker room’ sense. the item’s not being fast, or about car control. the item’s not technical, per se.

When driving old cars, you have to heighten your awareness levels simply to avoid accidents. When a modern car hops in front of you along with immediately stamps on the brakes, the item’s a massive issue. Old car drivers leave appropriate stopping distances although modern motorists like to fill those gaps, in case you might slow them down for a second or two. They are in a modern car. They outrank you. They are better than you. Get out of the way. 

When they do cut in, you have to drop back, only to have some various other turbo diesel twonk do precisely the same thing a minute later.

You don’t contain the airbags, crumple zones, AEB or any various other safety kit to look after you if the worst happens. You are acutely aware of your vulnerability along with you drive defensively as a result.

Similarly, when driving along, you are acutely aware of the noise. Old cars make noise. Lots of noise. Some of the item is usually just because old cars do a worse job of insulating you by the mechanical bits. After all, the item’s old. although as the driver, you get very attuned to the noises, along with if something starts to go wrong, you don’t need a warning light to tell you. A slight change in frequency, a completely new rattle or unfamiliar squeak tells you which a bit of investigation is usually needed.

On a modern motor, TPMS systems tell you if your tyres have lost a pound or two of pressure by the tyre. On a Morris 1000, the item starts to steer differently along with tracks across the road. With no steering assistance or cosseting ride to insulate you by the road, you know exactly what is usually going on. No warning lights required.

This kind of heightened sense of awareness stays with you when you jump back into a modern. Even with assisted brakes along with steering, proper ventilation, a working radio along with an airbag arsenal protecting you by various other drivers, you are just more aware of what you are driving along with crucially, of various other motorists.

There is usually no doubt at all which even the crudest, poorest modern vehicles are considerably more civilised, safer along with more efficient than a 1967 Morris Minor. You’ll get no argument by me on which.

Despite which, I’ve no doubt which a spell behind the wheel of the item or something similar makes even the most confident, competent modern driver more considerate, more aware along with ultimately, a better driver.  


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