Reader Stories…

Posted on January 27th, 2009 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

I hate to sound negative but long experience has taught me that if a reader emails that they have a great story for us, the very high likelihood is that it will never happen.

About once every two weeks I get an email.

Hi, I’ve invented a new type of turbo. I am sure you’d like to cover it.


I’ve developed a breakthrough fuel – you make it yourself. You should do a story on it.

Or, even,

You haven’t done a new car test on my car – it’s a XYZ. Would you like to drive it?

On the off-chance that something will actually eventuate, I always email back a semi-polite reply.

But then the turbo man doesn’t want to send me any real-world test results, or the person who makes their own fuel suddenly goes very quiet, or the person with the new car lives in remote, outback Western Australia.

However, sometimes – just sometimes – stories actually eventuate.

And in the last few months I’ve done a number of stories with people who have popped up out of nowhere.

David of Adelaide emailed me – he had a Hyundai i30 diesel and would I like to drive it? Since I was going to be in Adelaide in a few months’ time (and since I’d already briefly sampled the i30, but not nearly a long enough experience to write a story) I was interested. I’d want the car for 24 hours minimum, but that was basically the only caveat.  

And the story happened.

I’d expected to do about 600-700 kilometres in the day I had the car, but the fact that the machine hadn’t even had it first 1000 kilometre service stopped that. But I still did a reasonable number of both city and country kilometres. (And, incidentally, about four times as far as occurred at the Hyundai i30 launch – see here).

Another story that came out of nowhere was the one I did recently on the 1960s Mitsubishi Colt.

Craig is a Colt collector, and after I saw his cars on a discussion group, I jotted his name down to contact when I was in his area (as it happens, again Adelaide). By email he was helpful – very helpful (and also mortified when his email went mad and repeatedly sent me the same [large!] files).

His Colts were just as he had said, he’d prepared a folder of print-outs for me just as I’d asked, and I could drive a car – another request granted.

He seemed surprised how smoothly it all went – perhaps I was a nicer person to deal with than my reputation apparently suggested!

But I love cars – all cars – and I relished driving his Colt in just the same way as (don’t laugh when I put them in the same sentence) I so well remember driving a friend’s original Porsche 356.

And when doing the story on the Colts, I could also cover how Craig has restored an old petrol bowser.

In the flesh the restoration wasn’t as good as the pics had suggested, but after a moment I decided that the quality of the restoration simply didn’t matter – it looked good, and that was the whole point of the exercise. As I wrote in the story, if you want a great conversation piece in your home workshop, here’s how to achieve it.

And then I did yet another story that proved to be a great success – although I’d initially wondered how it would go.

The story was on a man who blows acrylic bubble canopies suitable for gliders, historic aircraft – and human-powered vehicles and custom cars. Ian works out of a backyard shed, and is modest, smart, experienced and helpful – and was there at the agreed time, with the agreed resources, and furnishing the agreed information. (I state the latter points because so often this is not the case!)

Each story – driving the Hyundai i30 CRDi, driving the 1960’s Colt and writing about its history, doing the bowser story and seeing how acrylic canopies can be blown – I found inspiring and interesting.

And, if I found them exciting, I know by long experience that lots of readers will also enjoy the resulting articles.

So despite my opening lines, these stories do sometimes happen!

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