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Girl TORQUE: Summer motoring


Don’t you love summer motoring? I certainly do – on both two wheels and four.

Motorcycling delivers its own pleasures, biking as close to flying as you can get without leaving the ground. The smell of cut grass and flowers treacle-strong on the summer air, cut with sharp tar tang and the occasional rich swirl of spilled diesel. The sound of a hot engine ting-tinging as you park by some lake for a swig of water, unwrapping a slab of now squashed Christmas cake: the feel of summer air on hot skin freed from the protective embrace of armoured jacket and trou.

Then there are those trips in the car, everything packed in; sticky skin on vinyl, the chill touch of an air conditioned breeze as the car cools; bright sun on chrome, the whiff of rain on hot tarmac from a summer storm.

There’s the 3D jigsaw of fitting everything in – did we remember hats? Tent pegs, the first aid kit, the torch? The credit card that can fix almost any forgotten item?

Sand in the footwell, sometimes reappearing months after those idyllic days on the beach, or perhaps a reminder of a sudden rainstorm. Damp and shivering, sitting on towels, putting the heater on and buying hot chips that warm you from the inside out.

Or on bright-blue sunny days, sucking ice cream hurriedly from fingers – not wanting to make the car sticky but needed that break from the long drive.

The test car schedule means my memories are often cut with car-specific recollections. The Suzuki Vitara summer, when I found a four-wheel-drive track that ended abruptly by a fast-running crystal-clear stream through a grassy paddock, literally hours from anywhere. Covered in dust, hot as blazes as I’d had the windows down to see the track edge, I fancied a swim but the water was so cold it numbed my ankles and calves, and I wussed out; it must have come from an underground spring.

The Nissan X-trail holiday to Russell, where mum and I went dolphin watching and friends gave us home caught-and-smoked fish. We didn’t want the test car reeking of it, but it had a sliding under-boot tray that kept the fish from clothes and carpet, to be appreciated back home.

The Jaguar XF V8 the year my British cousin visited and we travelled in style, parked in the viaduct basin to sample a restaurant or two, had a sail on a former America’s cup boat, then pretended to live the lifestyle by wafting home amid leather and wood and the purr of that wonderful engine.

This year I’ll be Ford Territory-mounted and no matter the weather, I’m sure I’ll rack up a few more summer motoring memories; let’s hope they’re also good ones.

Read previous Girl TORQUE columns here.

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