English Blood, Finnish Soul
It was a Saturday morning. Dickie Davies was leaning forward, staring intensely at the camera, bedecked in silver flash hair do and decked out in a sports coat of turquoise polyester. You could almost smell the Old Spice on him. The ‘tached anchorman was about to introduce us to a new sensation in the world of motor sport. The steroid-ridden, turbocharged, whining, spitting monstrosities that were Group B rally cars had stepped onto the world stage and were causing a sensation. The sensation was to be deadly, irresponsible and short-lived as youth itself – but we weren’t to know that at the time. Regulatory bodies had ripped up the rulebook, and all over world the strange-named pilots of these F1-level supercars on knobbly tires were defining the art of driving. At the same time, the faceless suburbs of the country were resounding with the noise of straight through exhausts. Greed was good, the Group B revolution was the embodiment of power-lust and we were greedy for speed. My little collective of revheads was a motley crew of automotive-aspiration. Darren had a Mark 1 Escort pumped up and drugged to resemble an RS Mexico. Steve had a lowered Mark 11 Capri with a bored out 3.0 litre lump, a cleaned body in pearl white with an immaculate black vinyl roof. Wayne had bought heavily into the Group B thing (or at least his dad had done) and gone for a light blue Lancia Beta coupé. It was rapid, but a little effeminate in a Roman sort of way. I meanwhile was working all the hours god sent to save up for a either an RS2000 or an Alfasud (I was always a little bit left-field, me). I lived by the side of the A12 and at night in my bed I could hear the grunty tone of my mates and the rest of the local toerags rinsing every last bit of power out of their Dagenham Dustbins between traffic lights. The car park at Oscars, the local disco, (didn’t everyone have an Oscars, and aren’t all of them a Drive Thru McDonalds these days?) was a sea of English Iron and Italian rust buckets. But the heroes we worshipped in those fleeting days weren’t called Colin or Dave or Carlo or Massimo. They had been blessed with the rhythmic, perfectly scanned monikers of their Finnish ancestry. Hannu Mikkola. Ari Vatanen. Juha Kankkunen. They created the art of driving in their own image. We may have had English blood, but ever since the early eighties we have had Finnish souls.
If like me you now have the urge to go Group B, you will need rally car insurance, call Adrian Flux on 0800 089 0050.
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