Some believe that here in Blighty we drive with more consideration, but to those not aware of the UK’s motoring habits, that’s mainly because of the law. However, you can bring the fun back to driving with a Classic Land Rover.
If you are caught speeding in America then the penalty involves several dollars and a stern appearance in court, where a judge more interested in watching reruns of Dallas gives you a slap on the wrist, before you set off and continue to drive at 90mph into the sunset. Caught doing 63mph in a 60mph zone on one of Britain’s A-roads? You can look forward to a speed awareness course, several points on your license, a hefty financial fine, the loss of your job, losing the respect of your family and friends, watching your partner and kids walk out the door forever and never leaving the house again. And then watching your insurance premium shoot through the roof. Do it again and Theresa May devours your soul.
The UK also seems to be home of the right of the pedestrian and cyclist – as only in modern-day Britain does common courtesy have to be legislated. Every car has to stop, even if the pedestrian is clearly in the wrong. Speeding up and turning on your windscreen wipers will probably land you a prison sentence. Collide with a cyclist and regardless of the situation, being a car driver and therefore worse than Satan, it’s your fault. As is world hunger, the fact we only have one moon and the remake of The Italian Job.
As a civilisation, we seem to be growing ever more impatient on the roads – and it’s not difficult to understand why. There’s 40 million cars on Britain’s tarmac, that makes for some epic queuing when rush hour hits. Looking to escape during the weekend? You can expect to hit stationary weekend traffic then, too. Been on the M25 lately? It’s like you’ve died and gone to hell.
There appears to be no freedom on the roads anymore – and should you even dare to think there is, you can enjoy the crippling fuel tax duty Her Majesty’s government imposes on drivers, the frankly ridiculously-proportioned road tax charge and all the extra money involved when it comes to paying tolls for tunnels and the M6. Then there’s speed cameras on every corner, road surfaces rougher than Ron Pearlman’s face and pot holes deeper than the fracking points causing roads in certain areas to collapse completely.
Everywhere you look, the Government are imposing legislations and laws alongside the communist-style councils to ensure you only use your car for going to work - mainly to pay the expense for actually going to work in the first place. The days of the petrol head are over – with diesel engines becoming the scapegoat for global warming, new cars being strangled by emission regulations, road manners dissolving alongside any faction of mechanical patriotism, insurance costs spiralling out of control and car crime rising faster than Eric Pickles’ cholesterol.
What kind of message does that send out to those learning to drive? As if all those lessons at £30 an hour aren’t depressing enough, you’ve got a further £23 per theory test and as much as £150 per go at the actual test itself to look forward to. Then, you’ll pay roughly £3k a year for your insurance cover until – if – you make it to 25.
It’s not like this in other nations, where everything is much more relaxed, and tests aren’t shadowed by a DVLA-enforced fail rate to keep you coming back with more of your hard earned cash.
But we do have one upside – apparently, our roads are safer than the majority of other countries. Apparently. How many times have you had a white van driver sit so close to your bumper that you can only view their bonnet? Or suffered an Audi pull out into a gap so small that you’ve had to brake harshly? Maybe it’s the weather that does it, or maybe it’s the pressure of modern life. Either way, it appears as though there is no point in trying to enjoy your vehicle. It’ll bankrupt you should all the legal stuff not kill your enthusiasm outright in the first place.
But don’t give up hope – there is one escapism still largely untouched. And it’s called Classic Land Rover ownership.
We are going to prove it, too. Stick with us over the next few weeks as we take on all the restrictions for younger drivers, irritations over road tax and constraints on the tarmac and demonstrate how, with a classic Land or Range Rover, you can regain your motoring freedom and escape from the extremities of modern life. Stay tuned…