Saturday, 14 April 2012

Life On Cars passes the IAM Advanced Driving Test

NO L-plates were harmed during the making of this article.

There is no clichéd snap of me ripping one up to add an air of occasion, no cheesy grins for the Champion photographer. But you can bet your Grand National winnings that the sense of achievement, for me at least, is the same. A ham-fisted twentysomething passed the Advanced Driving Test!

I’m particularly proud because I’ve had – and I don’t mind admitting it to you, the region’s petrolheads – a bit of a patchy track record when it comes to learning to drive. Not once have I pretended that I am the North West’s answer to Lewis Hamilton, and I’m lucky to be able to count my attempts at the normal driving test with the embarrassed digits of a single, sweaty hand.

That’s why, even though I’ve been doing the advanced driving course since the start of the year, I’ve kept schtum on the subject until now, because I was secretly worried I’d do exactly what I kept doing with the normal driving test – make promising progress, get nervous on the test day, and make a complete hash of it.

Luckily, I had a top-notch observer who also enjoys driving to the point that it’s a hobby, and helped me fine-tune my control of my little MX-5 to near-police levels of pedantry and precision. So cheers, Alan (seeing as I know you read this column) – your Yoda-like mastery of motoring has helped me to impress the serving police officer who actually had to sit with me this morning, put his life in my hands, and decide whether I made the grade. Amazingly, I did.

Yet in many ways I am the exact sort of person the Institute of Advanced Motorists would like to see passing the test; I’m young, I’m male, and a petrolhead. I not only enjoy driving nice cars but I enjoy driving, full stop. Driving is not getting from A to B on a miserable Monday morning and trying not to think about it – it’s a craft to be finely honed and improved, like fencing or fishing or painting. I’ll travel hundreds of miles to the middle of nowhere if it means finding a rewarding road.

If you’re reading this column chances are you’re the same – you’re a petrolhead and that means you like cars, and sharpening up the skills used to drive them means you’ll enjoy them more. Driving, and doing it well, gives you the grin factor.

Being into cars without being into driving is like ordering fish without chips.

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