Driving the perfect Doodle

By Phil Hanson

On the drawing-board and off the road, it's got spring bumpers, auto transmission, a sunroof, great mirrors - and steel rims

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

To be honest, I don't see a lot wrong with steel rims. They're cheap, strong enough and if their appearance starts to become boring, just buy a new set of wheel covers. That's why I'll have them on the car I'll design.

Come on now, admit it: anyone remotely interested in cars has fantasised about their ideal auto, the one they'd build if they had the time, money ... and ability.

As a young reporter I used to sit at the courthouse press table and draw my ideal car, as cases of little consequence droned on. Mostly, the drawings ended up looking like the original TVR Vixen, which was close to my ideal car at the time. However, my designs were better looking, which wasn't all that difficult as the TVR was no beauty.

My designs centred around a two-seat coupe with near-perfect weight distribution, great performance, great outward vision, almost no overhangs, close to the ground and near-perfect handling. The engine was a low-mounted, supercharged flat six.

I did, however, deviate from steel rims during my TVR look-alike period - such a vehicle could only have British Minilite mags. Anything else simply wouldn't have done.

"What's that? Oh, just doodling, Your Worship."

So what's your perfect car? Mine's changed since the TVR-esque sports coupe days. Domiciled in Auckland, where everyone else drives like an idiot, it would have spring-like bumpers front and back, like they had on cars pre-war. Somebody's just backed into you? No problem.

It would have the steel rims with cheap plastic covers, sacrificial styled discs for when the wheels come too close for comfort to our unyielding kerbing stones.

It would be automatic because who in their right mind would want to row a manual around in Auckland's traffic?

The automatic would be a good old conventional type because I don't entirely trust the DSGs and CVTs elbowing their way into the market, no matter how good they may actually be.

It's my car, so I can build in whatever prejudices I like.

A COUPLE of years ago, it would have had a diesel engine, for sure. Nowadays I'm not so sure.

Some of the newer petrol engines are diesel-like in their ability to stretch a litre of fuel and to provide a wicked amount of torque at low rpm.

True, a diesel might be better if I have to cross a swollen river (no electrics to get wet), but I'd be prepared to take the chance that I won't have to do that.

The car would be painted white, because it's a high-visibility colour that's cooling on hot days and, most importantly for a lazy person, is good at not showing dirt.

It would not have integrated satnav, because I prefer a particular brand of portable device whose maps work better than any I've seen in a built-in unit.

My perfect vehicle would almost certainly be a wagon, or maybe a hatch; in either case its rear seat would fold perfectly flat, in case I have to sleep there, and it would have a sliding sunroof for poking long items through. Plus, a sunroof lightens up the interior and provides a hint of open-air motoring, once clear of the city's traffic fumes.

And of course it would have slim pillars to all but do away with blind spots and would have really good outside mirrors, preferably like those on some Euro brands that are made of two pieces and provide a view of Imax width and clarity.

IT USED to be, back in the golden days of the American industry, that buyers over there could have their car built any which way. Five hundred cubic inch V8 with drum brakes and a three on the tree gearbox? Just sign right here, sir.

America still does a good options list, but not quite like back then. For one thing, the safety and insurance lobbies wouldn't let them get away with some of the old combos; for another, Detroit discovered the art of providing packages, which means you have to buy five things you don't want to get the one you do want.

Today, the Germans also do great options lists. You can dither for weeks over what to tick or what not to tick on, say, a BMW list.

But you'll also run into the dreaded options packages and don't even try to keep a running total of the cost: it'll only weaken your resolve to carry on.

Don't be in a hurry, either. Unless you go for mundane options that everybody ticks and thus worth carrying cars so equipped in stock, it'll require a special order with the factory. A special order means waiting, possibly for months. You probably won't even want the car any more when it finally arrives.

THIS IS why your perfect car will probably remain no more than a fantasy.

Of course you'll never actually design and build it from the ground up. Are you mad?

And even if you have the money to option up a car on the production line to make it perfect, you probably won't have the patience to wait for it.

It's a cruel world, not a perfect one.

... now you show us yours

What would your perfect car be like? Tell us your car-design fantasy - or even draw it if
you're clever enough - we'll publish the best. Keep your descriptions reasonably short and send them to: driven@apn.co.nz Look forward to hearing from you.

- NZ Herald

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