So many horses and nowhere to gallop. Being behind the wheel of a Merc C63 AMG during the pre-World Cup roadwork gridlock is surely akin to a hole-in-one while playing a solo round.
But just the aura that fancy fenders, a bump on the bonnet and, of course, THAT badge surrounds you with, can be an ego boost on its own.
I get used to the nods and winks, the envious glances and even strike up a traffic light conversation with four peak-capped lads in a blacked-out GTi in Rosettenville.
Wary at first, I’m relieved by their broad smiles and “roll” down the window. “Eish…that’s faster than the M3″, the front seat passenger offers.
“Ja, I know,” I reply modestly. “And much better looking!”
What I don’t tell them is that my “other” car is a Merc E240, the tortoise of the tarmac. It would struggle to beat the Vauxhall Viva we used to race along Grey Street in Bulawayo during sixties schooldays.
At 16, my mate Steve was an accomplished robot racer, draining every last tad of torque from the one litre engine. And to further embellish our reputation at Fritz Drive-In restaurant, I would nefariously change gears from the passenger seat while Steve patted the car roof with his right hand. It worked! The rumour spread that we had an automatic gear shift. Viva! Bulawayo. Viva!
But here’s the rub. It’s taken the best part of half a century for automatics to come of age and actually deliver better performance than the human hand shift! In the case of the C63, a whiplashing 4,5 seconds from 0 to 100 kph.
Apart from the stark statistics, this Merc has not suffered from any withdrawals on the extras list. From the big screen navigation to parking distance beepers. From the sporting seats that hug every curve (of your body) at the push of a button to the on board disco of a sound system. And those AMG designers, now in their 40th year, have done a superb job of staying classy and not straying too far into the Subaruesque zone.
All of which meant very little to my son Tyrone. He was far more interested in taking on all-comers at the William Nicol traffic lights…now working.
Of course, I was reluctant and, thankfully, no M3s, SR4s or kindred speedsters gave us the requisite revs. Then it happened. A Merc S65 camped at a red light and the lane on the right was ominously open.
There was nowhere to hide. I pushed the button into manual and put my fingers to the paddles behind the specially crafted steering wheel. This would be fought the old-fashioned way. As my pulse started to race, I took a steely glance at the pilot of the S65.
It wasn’t really his carefully combed white hair, or his thick horn-rimmed glasses that caught my attention. It was the French poodle perched on the passenger seat.
With a silent sigh of relief I nudged the C63 back into automatic and we both took off at a leisurely pace.
It is a cruel world. You can usually only afford all those horses when street racing doesn’t run so strongly in the veins.
Maybe if Steve was around…