In my day we had man-sized cars

21:44, Jun 21 2012

I cannot see the attraction of riding around in flimsy, toy town, four cylinder cars with bits and pieces screwed onto them, under them and into them to make them sound more powerful and look more bling bling.

It is an absolute mystery to me why these kids spend their hard earned money making a crappy old Nissan Laurel look shinier and sound shittier.

I assume movies like the Fast and the Furious influence that but those movie stars are driving super cars with 650 BHP motors.

Not souped up, Japanese imports fold in on themselves if they hit a road cone going more than 30kmh. I readily admit this moan is a symptom of my age and a degree of scorn for a youth subculture I simply do not understand.

I have no idea why drifting is fun. Sliding around a racetrack with no traction whilst asphyxiating yourself and spectators with the poisonous fumes from tyre rubber sounds like a form of torture tantamount to waterboarding. It must impress someone though, as I recently found out.

Maybe everyone else knew what the cellphone numbers pasted over the rear windows of boy racer's cars are all about but I certainly didn't. I suspect I am in pretty good company assuming that the numbers are there because someone wants to sell the car and you ring the number if you want to buy it. But I was terribly mistaken.


The numbers belong to the drivers of the cars and they are meant to be rung by girls that hang around on the particular strip that the boys are cruising, or racing, along.

I suppose if you like the look of the car or the driver the girl texts with her location, ie which lamp- post she is standing under. The boy racer then drives past and checks out the talent. If he likes what he sees he can pick her and her mates up for god only knows what.

Of course there was a car enthusiast culture when we were teenage boys as well but at least we were drawn to proper cars with big motors and solid bodies.

I was regaled with stories from my father about his 1938 and 1948 Ford V8s that he had owned as a young man and my favourite model car kit was the 1955 Chevrolet coupe. But the idea of owning a classic like that was a seriously lofty aspiration far beyond the grasp of me or any of my friends.

Instead we owned XY Falcons, Valiant Regals, HQ Holdens and Mark III Zephyrs. Some lucky or committed individuals among us might have owned a Valiant Charger, an HR Monaro or a Ford Capri V6 Granada but that was an exception. These were cars that weighed a ton, guzzled gas and could hit a stationary tar machine at 40mph and come out unscathed.

We had special places in town where we could park up alongside each other and just sit there (for some reason). Or back out in the country where we lived we could set the vehicles up in a circle like a wagon train in defence mode. The boots would be opened and crates of beer would appear. Sometimes girls even came along for the ride.

So probably things haven't changed that much except our cars were definitely much cooler than the tin cans these kids blat about in nowadays.

But I have to say that regardless of my view of boy racers in general I was not impressed by the spectacle made of crushing the car of Lower Hutt boy racer Daniel Briant. It had the appearance of a lot of puffed up smugness executing a symbolic and humiliating punishment to a naughty young man. And maybe that was all it was meant to be.

But for someone who is displaying criminal behaviour that puts the community at risk whilst being particularly wedded to an antisocial lifestyle that he has refused to abandon, the punishment is highly unlikely to deliver the outcome the community needs to make it safer.

Briant will not stop driving dangerous cars at breakneck speeds in built-up areas in front of the police. If they incarcerate him he will no doubt pick up where he left off when he gets out.

I suspect that this is another case of punishments that make the authorities and the general public feel better because someone annoying or irresponsible has suffered an undignified penalty. But to actually create a safer community, much smarter approaches are required.

But at another level it is meant to be a deterrent for those intending to commit boy racing crimes and I can't see it having a major impact.

The curfew options may have had an impact.

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