Thursday, 6 August 2015

Das Auto - Cars of The World. I Appreciate it's Not About Cycling!

I have another love. Actually I have a few but one I want to tell you about is cars. Odd, a cycling podcast which shows love to 'the enemy'. Well not so! I have a love of 'classic' cars (see old), for their beauty simplicity and crapness; it's the really run down every day beaters I love. Don't get me wrong, I admire the poise and grace of a Mk Two Jaguar, the effortless curves of a Dino or the stately authority of a 500SEL but I prefer the multi coloured steel rimed honesty of a 1987 525 estate with baby seats and roof bars, abandoned outside of the corner shop whist some poor fellah grabs a pack of nappies whilst juggling a baby and two pints of milk. Basically I love engineering, but the mechanical type, I don't like Di2 and I don't like Nissan GTR's. Some things should be cogs and cables, not computers and chips (micro not potato). I'm not a Luddite, I love technology, it's fascinating and I have nothing but admiration for people who can program and invent items which make our worlds safer, slicker, better and cleaner. I just like retro shit. I love the NES, I even liked the Amiga. The Wii though? Neh..

I will to summarise the general feel of the motors I have seen around the world, I hope I don't offend and I welcome feedback from locals to put me right.


Berlin can be dissected into districts in terms of feel, environments and it's cars. It's an amazing city and will soon get a full cycling write up in much greater detail, but for now, the cars? It depends where you are. The West, think sleek Mercedes, high end VW and lot's of BMW, some Porsche and a dusting of French Intruders. The old West has some interesting spots, Classic Remise is an amazing place, an old disused tram workshop converted into a multi unit car workshop, specialising in classics and very high end super cars, really worth a visit. It's in Charlottenburg so easily reached by bike or train. It has a lovely restaurant but dress smart and bring an reserve of sharply exhaled breaths for the prices. There are a few gems in the West but it's on the old East we must focus. The variety of interesting metal is massive, plentiful and seems to be parked on each and every sleepy side street. Freidrickstain and Kreutzberg are best (excuse my spelling) for spotting some gold, and here we are:

West Berlin:


The Italians treat cars like clothes. They have everyday clobber and Sunday best. Flip flops are mopeds, the 'mottornio'. Vespa means wasp, a great summary. Ape means 'bee', also beautifully Italian. The Ape is a small three (sometimes now four) wheeled utilitarian vehicle and is the back bone of rural Italy. You may see hipsters driving them in London, I suspect Piaggio would be disgusted at this, much like I am at the skinny jeaned fixie riding clans when i notice they have flipped the hugs to the freewheel; an Ape is not for London.
The cars I see vary wildly depending on the region but on the whole I'm drawn towards the cars of the mountains. The potential top speed of the vehicle can be assessed by how large the ears of the driver are, thus how much they stick out from behind the head rest. Elderly folks in Fiat Panda 'Young' models, always in white or green are great for drafting up hill behind on the bike. I can't discuss Italian cars without covering their driving! The reputation is bollocks, they are great drivers, traffic flows like water and the perpetual cavalier attitude makes for great fun. Viva Italia!


Not much to day about France, not for any bad reason, they are just unremarkable. The motorways are great but cost, the French drive well, quickly and decisively. The respect cyclists and the cars are generally good.  I have driven in Paris and it was no worse than any other city I've steered in. The cars are beautiful, hardy and plagued with electrical demons. Some of the innovations that The french auto industry pioneered are amazing and they should be recognised.

At some point I will cover some other countries but feel another cycling update is required soon so must retire and plan for that.


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