Blog: Learning the hard way

blogslearnerOften when driving driving long journeys in a dull car, I like to dream up silly schemes or odd theories in order to while away the motorway tedium. Most of the time such reveries do what they’re supposed to – make that lone trip more interesting. However, unlike all of the great philosophers, my one-man theories tend to be a random jumble of undisciplined rubbish: unlike Aristotle, who changed the course of Western thinking with his great work, The Organon or Francis Bacon, who mused, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds“, the Adams brand of philosophy extends little further than, the “What ifs?” of motoring life. And as I said, most of these “What ifs?” are complete crap.

One such “What if?” I dreamed up was what would happen if the law was changed so that all holders of provisional licences were forced to learn in a car with no less than 200bhp. Now, hear me out. Think about it – accident rates broken down into age ranges have – since time immemorial – shown that 17-24 year olds are the most likely to get into a prang. And why do they get into the scrapes that they do? More often than not, young people crash because they fail to read the road ahead. Be it, a corner that surprises them or the hidden dangers of a busy junction, lack of anticipation is often the reason.

Misuse of speed is another big issue right now, and it has to be said that statistics do seem to suggest that recenly-qualified drivers do drive too fast. But is that neccessarily down to the enthusiasm of youth?

What if instead of a fleet Vauxhall Corsa 1.2s,
BSM were to buy MG ZT 260 V8s?

What if instead of a fleet Vauxhall Corsa 1.2s, BSM were to buy MG ZT 260 V8s? In all honesty, which is easier to drive? The MG. of course. But not only that, learning to drive in the sweet Yank-powered saloon would prepare any newly qualified driver for the move to solo driving in their own car. I know it may sound a little mad, but remembering all those years ago to the (black and white) day I passed my test, my first thought was to go out in my own car and drive “properly”.

And by that I mean – fast. I am sure I was not alone in this thought, too. And because any 2-litre family car built after 1990 is probably capable of dashing from 0-60mph in under 10 seconds, whilst topping out at over 120mph, that would be a massive jump in power from that little Corsa/206/Clio. And that’s where problems must surely begin. A new driver could quite easily jump into their parents’ Cavalier 2.0GLi – a car twice as powerful as a bottom line supermini, and go and have some fun. Just how long said driver would take to get into trouble is anyone’s guess, but factor in a few college mates, it would surely not take long at all.

However, if said driver had already learned in an MG ZT 260, then they would already understand about driving a car with torque, they would fully understand that implications of being cack-handed with the throttle, as well as learning about reading the road properly (improved acceleration has you looking further ahead). I guess it comes down to respect, and if you respect the car you learn in – truly understand what it is capable of – you would drive in a more responsible manner. And let’s face it, most young uns have already hooned all sorts of exotica around the world’s race tracks on their PS2s and XBoxes anyway…

So, 200bhp-plus L-Driver cars for all..?

As I said, my “what ifs?” can be questionable at the best of times, but in my own little world, this one has legs…

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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