There aren’t many times when one can just sit down and be totally content with watching the world go by, but this was one of those times. My girlfriend was in the hospital having an operation on her back. I was being the strong, confident, up-beat partner and although I didn’t show it, I was worried. Its a fairly routine operation and the doctor gave ample reassurance but I’m of a nervous disposition around hospitals and with any lower back op the risks include life affirming terms like “death” and “paralysis”. The time was upon us though and she was taken in to surgery – it would take approximately 2 hours.
This left me with nothing to do except wait, hope and look for distraction. Relatives live not too far away from the hospital and although I had originally thought to call and see them, truth be told I didn’t want to speak to anyone right now. My own company was all I wanted at the time. It was a lovely day and there were some shops about a mile down the road. Time for a good head-clearing stroll. As I arrived at the shops, I noticed a bench near the bus stop which looked out over the pavement and road ways. This is where I would take up residency for the next hour or so.
Armed with a magazine, a bottle of pop and some fatty badness in the form of crisps and sweets I sat on the bench in the summer sun and watched the world go by. Being a car enthusiast my attention was naturally drawn the passing motorists. Convertibles are more conspicuous than than a regular car and nothing brings out more drop-top cars than a beautiful day…
An old triumph passed by, piloted by its middle aged owner with a cap on. The day had come to finally allow him the liberty of taking his pride and joy out of the shed and onto the road. Then passed the mum in the blue MG-F; top down, shades on – reliving her youth.
It wasn’t long before the modern Beetle passed me, occupied by a group of immaculate young women all smiling and laughing, shortly followed by several MX5’s in various shapes and guises.
Lots of other cars were on the road that day, but those that appeared in a more relaxed disposition where the convertibles. They just seemed in no rush, just enjoying the experience.
The 80’s Porsche. Red. Pop up headlights and cream folding roof. Does anything symbolise the ultimate historical motoring desire than the 80’s Porsche? The sunshine positively radiated from the bonnet as the owner parked near a junction and waited for his passenger. It sent me straight back to my youth when a convertible Porsche meant it was likely someone of importance in society. The modern world is one of finance and overpaid celebrity, so many cars are achievable with just a little hard work, or a big personal gamble. But back then, the red Porsche convertible was owned only by the seriously rich. It still looked good and its gleaming red coachwork was commanding attention from passers by. Still got ‘it’.
I was tucking into the crisps I had bought as a BMW 3 series pulled up outside the shop next to me. Black. Folding metal roof. Driven by Mean-Looking Bouncer Man. Black shades, black jacket. Mean. Except today he wasn’t mean. He had brought his young daughter to the shops with the roof down. He’s also a cautious guy, raising the roof before leaving the car. Now it looks like a coupe; nice car.
As I started my hike back up the hill, some 60 minutes after my journey began, I realised that there really is a convertible car for everyone. From the older hobbyist to the young and youthful, or the image conscious motoring purest, there is a something to suit everyone. Even a hardened bouncer, immortal to pain but with a serious reputation to uphold has a model of choice. From practical to poseur, its a topless path that few people who only need just a small interest in motoring choose to embark upon at some point in their lives.
A vast choice available to suit all pockets. From a few hundred quid, to a few hundred grand. Its a dream of motoring desire, not always spoken; the care-free wind in your hair feeling of driving – maybe even without a predetermined destination. Heading out to your driveway, shades in hand, into the driving seat, roof down and off you go. Feeling nature and machine working as one – all for your benefit. No matter which model or marque you choose – everyone loves a convertible.
The operation was a success. A very nervous time had now passed. I was back at the hospital bedside, waiting anxiously for my lady to wake up. It had been a worrying few hours, one which denied me an ability to focus on anything significant. On that beautiful day, just watching the world go by was a great stress reliever. I wanted for nothing and life was, for a short time, on hold.
I imagine that the driving experience for those people in the convertibles – that drop-top pleasure, made them feel the same.
23rd December 2009