For many motoring enthusiasts, driving isn’t about a prolonged, overly involved love of cars from birth, it helps, but is more focused around spectacular moments when seeking or even finding driving nirvana. They are moments that stick in your mind and endure the test of time, always setting the benchmark for the next ribbon of asphalt and car to see if they can challenge your memories for a spot at the top.
Being a BMW enthusiast from very near birth, many of my favorite moments in driving came from driving an E38 740iL with it’s big V8 around my home town of Augusta, GA. Another moment came when my uncle picked up a Charmonix White on Blue 1974 2002tii and letting me take it around the neighborhood albeit for just a few minutes. A number of years passed and I was lucky enough to drive a few M3’s, 911’s and other luxury and sport cars, even attending M School and power sliding an M6 around a wet circuit. However, my favorite motoring moment came a few weeks ago in one of the cheapest BMW’s you can buy: a John Coopers Works MINI convertible.
After a day of driving a 550i GT and then sitting through a series of presentations at their North American headquarters, BMW opened up a number of cars in their fleet for test drives to the journalists. After taking out an X6 M, 335d and 750Li, one would think I couldn’t be very impressed by anything with less torque or horsepower. One would be wrong, though.
I found an off-yellow MINI Cooper convertible with the full John Coopers Works( read power, exhaust and suspension upgrades) sitting towards the end of the parking lot, looks a bit unloved in the presence of such powerhouses. However, I’d never driven a MINI before – new or old and what better way to be introduced to the R56 platform than through a JCW edition convertible in obnoxious yellow? After setting off, everything seemed normal until I found my way onto a surface road off of the BMW campus and absolutely buried the throttle into the carpet.
What a glorious, unexpected surprise the little brit held in it’s exhausts! Rocketing up the road to the first corner with exuberance, I finally lifted off of the throttle to catch a popping noise from the rear of the car that I’d not heard from most modern cars. I pointed the wheels toward apex and goosed the gas just a hair and the MINI plowed straight through to the exit and had no reservations about me jumping right back onto the throttle. Coming to a stop sign, I dropped the two-stage top so I could hear more of the exhaust and then got back on the throttle, chirping the front tires as I pulled on to a less commuted road.
The eagerness and personality of the MINI was just so abundant, it wanted to rev and it wanted to turn and the power through the bends and its exhaust snorted at me when I lifted as if to say “get back on the throttle ASAP!” Just to make it better – I decided it was time to listen to the radio to here the sound quality of the radio and sure enough “A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by Jerry Lee Lewis came on and just seemed to complete the circle of the personality of the MINI and the total experience.
It was me, the car, the road and the sky and the bright yellow and red trees of fall flanking me on both sides. There were no distractions, no bills, no 9-to-5 job, no Blackberry, no friends, no family, no boss, no TV, no internet and it was fantastic – allowing me to focus solely on the driving experience, the sputter of exhaust, the turn-in points, the apex and the satisfaction of urging on the tires with my pump of my right foot and the gorgeous scenery around me. It was a perfect moment of driving and without breakneck speeds, or tearing around corners like a bat out of hell, just a guy and a great car streaking along the countryside during a subdued yet colorful fall afternoon.
The experience made me realize how few and far between these moments are and that they must be enjoyed when we find these sorts of driving opportunities at our finger tips. After all, isn’t life just a series of moments?
So what is your moment of driving nirvana? Hopefully it is moments! Please tell us below![Image by AutoEvolution ]