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The most important modification to your car is actually you

By Rigval on 25 Apr 2012

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I’ve been around the motoring scene for at least a couple of decades and I still find things exciting. The thing about being around for quite a while is, you do get people coming to you and asking what stuff can be done to their cars and how can they extract a billion horsepower from their 1.0-litre engine or how can they make their terrible handling Nissan 130Y corner like its on rails.

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Questions like these are actually quite easy to answer with an uncontrollable urge for me to burst out laughing or to try (as hard as possible) to just smile and explain the fundamentals of motoring and vehicle tuning. But after some thought, the best modification that one car do to a car is actually not the car itself but to the driver of the car.

Obvious isn’t it? It is the bloke behind the wheel that basically needs some tuning especially if he is only fresh out of driving school or only a couple of years behind the steering wheel. Now I am not suggesting basic driving courses. I am suggesting that one invest in a proper advanced driving course or defensive driving courses or whatever they are calling them right now. There you will be thought how to properly use your vehicle in times of emergency and proper vehicle control skills.

These courses are available from some manufacturers. BMW and Porsche regularly conduct such courses for their customers but it is also open to everyone who can afford it. The local AA (Automobile Association) also conducts such workshops from time to time and this is affordable for those that cannot afford BMW and Porsche sort of prices. There are also the car clubs who sometimes hold such events too and all it needs is for you to keep an eye out for these sort of courses and events.

One example I can relate to you guys happened years ago at a Subaru Advanced Driving Course at the Sepang F1 track in Malaysia. You had Subaru customers being trained about the finer aspects of their cars and how to drive them properly. They were thought the slalom at low and high speeds, braking from high speeds into a designated area. They were also thought how their ABS braking systems works and other track oriented stuff too. Most that participated actually agreed that they learnt a whole lot about driving their cars and also driving their cars fast in a safe, controlled environment. It was pretty fun too.

The other eye opener is that in these courses, you may also be thought the proper ‘racing lines’. These are the proper ways to attack or tackle a corner and other technical terms like oversteer, understeer, hitting the apex, throttle steering, left foot braking and more. You will be opened to a whole new way of understanding your car instead of just arguing that ‘my car has more power than yours’ or ‘ My car can reach 220km/h’. These statements are unimportant if you do not know how to even use 50bhp properly.

I remember at the same event one instructor was driving a Subaru Impreza 1.6TS and he was actually chasing down Impreza WRXs driving by the participants. The only time the lowly 1.6TS struggled was at the straights but in the corners, he had no problem dusting off the turbocharged Subarus with ease. This basically meant two things – Firstly, genitals of steel and secondly, the skill to back up those genitals.

So there you have it folks, the most important mod to one’s vehicle is to the person behind the wheel.

motoring, advice, local and 5 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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