Well, not really. But that’s because, as least when it came to instilling a love of cars in my children, I have been an entirely rubbish parent. My father was cut from a rather different cloth.
When I was growing up we lived in a house with a couple of fields out the back. And his view was why grow potatoes in said fields when you could be driving cars around them instead? So a succession of scarcely mobile wreckage would come, be driven to destruction by me and my two elder brothers, and carted off to the scrapper. The first was a Renault Dauphine, but my feet wouldn’t reach its pedals, but then came an Austin A35, which I was driving with reasonable proficiency by the age of eight. I was then as I am now, somewhat taller than average.
The A35 turned into a couple of Morris Minors costing £20 each but the real high points came at weekends, when my father would return from some business trip not in the car he’d left at the airport, but whatever he could hire cheaply from Avis, the sole stipulation being it must have rear wheel drive. I remember a MkII Escort with particular fondness and an MG Midget which I drove repeatedly into a telegraph pole to test the veracity of MG’s claims that its fat, squidgy bumpers would absorb any impact at up to 5mph without damage. Much to my surprise and disappointment, indeed they did. Then he’d drive them back to the airport on Monday morning and hand over the keys wearing his most innocent face. And despite all the creaks, rattles and loose bits of trim from which they all suffered after a weekend lapping bumpy fields at maximum attack until their tanks ran dry, he never got a repair bill.
When it came to driving on public roads, his attitude changed somewhat. Now he wanted the slowest, strongest thing on the road, which is why I passed my test in the Series III Land Rover that I now own and, 35 years later, still drive every week.