ĎIíve always been suspicious of motoring journos who donít own their own cars. Why wouldnít you?í

Skid marks

David Morley

OU MIGHT find this difficult to believe, but not everybody is particularly good at their jobs. No, really.

The bloke who plumbed my house, for instance, should be lined up against a wall and beaten with a length of the same dodgy galvanised water pipe he managed to scatter haphazardly under the dump at 13 Struggle Street. Ditto for the genius that Ďfixedí my roof gutters a while back. Fixed so they all fell off within two years of him disappearing with my cash.

And thisíll kill you, but not all motoring journos have the faintest idea of what theyíre talking about. Iím not going to tip the bucket on individuals, but itís fair to say that within the corps of motoring scribblers (globally, not just here, I should add) there is a percentage of no-hopers, dills, drop-kicks and con-artists. Many of them have not the first clue of assessing a car, new or old, and many of them arenít even real journos.

Iíve always been of the belief that in order to explain the pros and cons of a particular piece of equipment to a third party, you first need to know yourself how it works. You probably wonít find a blacksmith lecturing in 17th century French literature.

Neither will it be likely that youíll run into a sous chef running an Olympic-standard gymnastics camp.

For this reason, Iíve always been suspicious of motoring journos who donít own their own cars. There are two main reasons for this.

The first is that many of them choose to rely on press-test vehicles purely because they canít afford to run their own wheels. My response to this is they must be fairly hopeless scribblers to be in a position where they canít afford the basic transport requirements that the rest of the first world seems to be able to cover.

Secondly Ė and more importantly Ė if they really do possess the passion they all profess to be consumed by, wouldnít they want even Y a humble slice of it for themselves? Do you reckon thereís a single gardening journo out there who doesnít at least own a potted plant? Or a tech journo who doesnít have a house full of gadgets?

Which brings me to the staffers on this fine, family magazine.

Young Louis has just bought himself a go-kart to race. Heís already a competent steerer, but a kart will make a huge difference. He tows it behind the only Integra Type R in the world with a towbar, the craziness of which appeals to me enormously. He gets it.

Scotty spent last year flogging a rally-prepped Hyundai Excel through the forests of Victoria. As anybody will tell you, rallying is a great way of rolling a Hyundai into a ball, but Scotty managed to keep himself nice and had a ball doing it. His road car is an ageing, stolen-and-recovered, R31 Skyline. Itís 50 shades of red and has a vintage whine in the diff, but Scotty loves it.

And then thereís the boss-cocky, the almost impossibly youthful Dylan. Iím always chuffed when a young fella Ďgetsí the concept of a car worth preserving and, after a series of things like Daihatsu Charades (the classic gets-me-to-uni car) Dylan recently bought a grey-import Toyota Sprinter. Itís the JDM model with the 4A-GE twin-cam as standard and the digital dash, and although itís a tiny bit scruffy in the body, underneath, itís solid gold. And we know that, because he turned up at the Melbourne Bloke Centre in it recently and we stuck it on the hoist to replace a few suspension bushes so it could be roadworthied and registered. Itís a good íun.

All these staff-owned cars combined would probably still get you change from $20K, but theyíre absolutely crucial to the way this magazine works and reads, because theyíre a function of the passion and commitment among the blokes who put the mag together in the first place. And the lads who own them regularly get their own mitts dirty spannering them up. Just bear that in mind next time youíre reading a road test. M