Driving

“Second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning.”

– James Tiberius Kirk, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

(My GT86 on the day it got its license plates.)

tl;dr

It’s not about the car. As much as I love some automobiles and what they stand for, I’m not the kind of guy who washes his car every five minutes and I don’t worship any car. It’s about what a car does for me when I drive it, how it makes me feel. From my biological father, I inherited his mechanic and truck driver genes: Driving┬áis important to me.

I mostly listen to music in my car, so this post is as much about the car itself as it is about its soundtrack.

Ride The Wild Wind

I would never have taken on a loan to buy a sports car, even if it’s just an entry-level sports car like my GT86. Getting into debt to buy a toy is irresponsible and it would also kill the fun for me. But after everything that had happened back in 2021 and the years before, I badly needed something that was plain and simple fun, that I could enjoy without having a nagging bad conscience.

I had been window shopping for a GT86 for over three years already, since I had first sat in a Dragon edition of it in a Toyota dealership. I didn’t have the money at the time, so the car turned into one of those dreams.

A few years passed. Then one day I found the one in the pictures above and I literally felt my heart beat changing. I knew immediately: This was my GT86. It had very low mileage and the right color, there was only one pre-owner in the papers, it had all inspections perfectly documented and they had been exclusively done in official Toyota shops, it was an automatic with a paddle shifter and there were no spoilers or any other obnoxious plastic stuff attached to it. It was exactly the car as the designers and engineers in Japan had originally conceived it. It was perfect. And this time, I could afford it. On the same day, I sent the shop an eMail that I wanted to buy it.

There are plenty of faster cars out there. The automatic version, as I have it, is factory-throttled at 215 km/h, the manual version is throttled at 235 km/h (strangely enough, on one of my first rides with it my automatic GT86 had reached that speed as well). That’s plenty fast, especially if you hold that speed for more than just a few minutes. The first time I drove my GT86, I literally broke out in hysterical laughter behind the steering wheel. The same happened the second time. And it kept happening.

The Japanese engineers worked their magic: The car will hold its top speed until you literally run out of gas, no matter if you’re going uphill or downhill. Everything will feel 100% safe, because there is not one single part in that car that will be running at or beyond its specified operational limit. You can sense that there are reserves available and you just know that the car can take it.

What you can also sense is what Jeremy Clarkson said in his Top Gear review of the GT86: “Designed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts.”

In another episode of Top Gear, Clarkson also said, “if you want a relatively inexpensive fun car, buy the Toyota GT86.”

I do not believe in changing, tuning or modding a car – because in reality, people only make them worse by doing so and by pushing the car past its engineering limits. And this is exactly what you feel in a GT86: It’s perfectly engineered. If there is one thing that I admire with all my heart, then it’s great engineering.

Ironically, literally five minutes after I had signed the contract, Toyota sent me an eMail that I could now pre-order the GR86, the successor to my car, and it was only a few thousand Euros more expensive. But I did not want the successor. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in my eyes the GT86 is way more elegant and beautiful than the new GR86.

For similar money, you could also get a V8 Mustang with 455 horse power and at least on straight roads, it will always leave the GT86 behind. I like the Mustang for what it is, and for a while I was thinking very loudly about buying one. My neighbor bought one after I had bought my GT86, and his Mustang is a stunning beast. But the feelings are very clear: It’s his Mustang, and this is my GT86.

Horsepower and speed are not the point of these cars anyway – if you believe it’s just about power and speed, then you’re really not getting it. Cars like this are about how they make you feel when you drive them. It’s about what they do for you. And that is something very individual and different for everybody. All car lovers have their own connections to their cars and things their cars do for them.

Driving this car makes me feel like I’m sitting in the cockpit of a Me 262 fighter aircraft, like I’m a bird of prey soaring through the air, like a wolf on the prowl, it makes me feel free and alive and in balance with myself. It’s the first car since the BMW 732i that I drove in the early 1990s to which I feel an actual connection.

It’s great to just listen to the sound of the engine when my GT86 and I are running down the Autobahn. (The sound and vibration of a pumping engine are a sensation that electrical vehicles don’t have and cannot provide – there’s no blood pumping through the veins of an electric car.)

But my car is also the place where I can enjoy loud music and be with myself, feel myself. Driving and listening to my personal favorites helps me think and dream.

My playlist for road trips

I have my full music collection on a USB stick in the car. But I like to focus on what for me are some of the best songs to listen to when I’m on the road with my car, so I have a playlist called ROADTRIP on that stick.

I put a few of the songs that I frequently listen to on a (not very well sorted) YouTube playlist under the same name: