Herbie Rides… a Nissan Sunny

The deal was done and the meeting was set for the following Sunday morning.  Money would change hands.  No turning back.  Could I do it?  What if I couldn’t?  I had to do it, I had to!

In the end it all turned out OK, I’m still here and so is my driving instructor – I think.  He was perfectly alright the last time I saw him some 21 years ago beating a hasty retreat from my front door.

It was the most nerve-racking, exciting moment of my life when I took control (?) of the Nissan Sunny for the first time.  “Put your seat into the right position for you.  Check your mirrors.  Make sure the car is not in gear.  Now, put the key in the ignition… and turn.”  Freeeeeeeeeedom!  Stall.  OK, maybe not.  After a few false starts we eventually got going up to the heady speed of 20mph around the industrial estate.

I still have fond memories of learning to parallel park, reverse around a corner, do U-turns, emergency stops, etc.  The Highway Code was a blast and driving on a dual carriageway was so exhilarating I wanted to go round again!

I have no passion for cars but can appreciate the huge leaps that have been made since 1993 when power steering, as we know it now, was in its infancy (Toyota leading the way in 1990 with its second generation MR2 – straight from Wikipedia I’m not ashamed to say!), satellite navigation was purely for the military, music was from the radio or if you had a really posh car, a built-in cassette – fancy!

Now, I zip about all over the place in my little Renault Modus and love it.  I have a choice of radio stations at the push of a button, or paddle – switch between FM, MW or CD; automatic windows, and great wipers!  My little car, though, is nothing on the big boy BMW 5Series that it shares a drive with.  A passion for all things automotive or not, this is a car that was designed to be enjoyed.  Built-in satnav system whereby the screen changes from daytime to night-time automatically, a great music system, phone system, fairly comfortable seats (after a journey from Buckinghamshire to Newcastle that lasted 7 hours, they were certainly tested!) and leg room that any reputable airline would envy.  Heated seats in winter, standard air-conditioning when summer eventually arrives – all the mod cons one could possibly need; to date.  Oh, not forgetting the parking sensors that bleep persistently when you get too close to the kerb or the car behind you.   I’m sure there are more gadgets than I can possibly remember on this machine but I haven’t studied the manual and neither has the self-styled knowledgeable driver!  I have not yet driven this behemoth and nor am I likely to.  It doesn’t even need a key to start the engine – very futuristic and slightly unnerving.  Cruise control is another invention that is something alien to me.  The dog is not allowed in this car.  Eating is not allowed in this car.  No rubbish is to be left in the car.  Frankly, I feel privileged that I’m allowed anywhere near it.

The automotive industry has had its highs and lows over the years but recent news is encouraging once again.  New jobs are being created and it’s recently been reported that it’s the top industry in the UK to work in.

With more cars on the road than ever before Britain is a nation that has embraced the automotive revolution. Long gone are those rusty old heeps that were constantly being repaired and patched outside homes on a weekend.  Pride in our vehicles is akin to the achievements of our children.  She’s a great driver; quiet, fuel efficient, eco-friendly.  You can almost see chests being puffed out as a loving gaze is cast over the little beauty sitting outside.


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