I make no bones about it: taking delivery of my new car this week made me feel like a racing driver, a Top Gear presenter and an overgrown man-child all in one go. And no, that’s not because I’m a budding F1 pilot or a TV personality who wears jeans and tweed jackets and goes around punching work colleagues. Allow me to explain.
Other than a house, the most expensive purchase most of us will ever make is a car. Now I love cars. And I love shiny new things. So a shiny new car is right up there on my list of things to get excited about. It’s just below getting married and the birth of my children, but not by much.
This particular purchase has been doubly exciting because it’s been a long time since we have bought a car that wasn’t driven by practical family needs. My old BMW was bought in response to Isaac’s arrival. It’s just two weeks younger than him, so it’s very much the car he has grown up with. (Isaac doesn’t use as much petrol but overall he has been much more expensive to service and maintain).
A couple of months after Toby was born, Heather’s old hatchback was replaced by an estate. And a few weeks before Kara’s arrival, that in turn gave way to a cavernous Ford S-Max to serve as the family load-lugger.
That last purchase afforded me a little latitude when it came to choosing my new car. We don’t need a second car that will carry all five of us and I no longer have to worry about doing up the boys’ seat-belts. So while I still need enough seats to transport up to three kids, two doors rather than four became a viable option again.
And so two doors it is, in the form of a new BMW 4-series.
Yes, I’ve been like a little kid for the past couple of weeks. But Isaac and Toby have been just as excited. Ever since I told them that I was getting a new car, they have been viewing YouTube videos and poring over equipment specs.
Wednesday, therefore, was a big day for all of us. No sooner were the kids home from preschool/holiday club than they were bundling in to the new car ready to head out for a first drive. Kara even got to sit in the front – a rare treat – and, after spending the whole trip beaming a megawatt grin, declared it “fantastic!”
I spent half that drive detailing all the car’s new features with Clarkson-style metaphors, although I gave up trying to explain the iDrive navigation/communication/entertainment/nuclear missile-launching system to Isaac when I realised that he already understood how to operate it better than I did. (He’s a seven-year-old boy. Of course he can work technology better than me.)
The other half was spent doing a succession of F1-style, tyre-burning fast starts (to squeals of delight from all three of them) and throwing the car into corners with as much gusto as a responsible father-of-three dares to muster. I did resist the urge to find a quiet car park, turn the traction control off and execute a few doughnuts, though. (See how grown-up I am?)
For a little while at least, I was Super Dad to my three children. I know they love me anyway but this was a rare joy worth treasuring.
So that’s two big highlights this week: our boys’ trip into London and now this. Next week is going to feel like a bit of an anti-climax, I suspect.
Finally, just because it tickled my fancy to do so, here are five car-related songs that have been on my mind this week. Not that I’ve been obsessing about cars or anything, of course. Now I’m just heading off to change my seat position settings for the 94th time …