A famous journalist once said ‘life is too short for boring cars’…

…I HAVE TAKEN that advice to heart and maybe a bit far – adding a Jeep Wrangler and a Toyota 86 to the garage, both not boring and both pretty hard work on a daily basis. This story is about the lesson I learnt that not-boring cars are in fact hard work (but oh so rewarding). 

When I saw those words of wisdom a few years ago, I thought OMG he’s right you know, I had better do something about the Ford Escape right away.  I said to my wife “honey I need a more exciting car” to which she replied “do what you like Dear”.  Now I am never sure if that really means do what you like or don’t be an idiot.  Anyhoo, I traded in the Ford on a 3 year old Jeep Wrangler, bone stock, and immediately wondered “what was I thinking”.   The Wrangler was like driving a boat on dry land – at least that was what it felt like in my zero 4×4 experience universe. I was alarmed at the constant steering correction required and the total attention needed at all times – otherwise it might throw you into the nearest roadside pole. It may sound like I purchased a lemon, but the car was fine. I just did not know what driving a full size, live axle 4×4 was really like. 

To me this was not a boring car – woohoo mission achieved. I took it for a few off-road runs in the Blue Mountains and Ourimbah with a local club and loved every minute of it.  Why hadn’t I done this years ago, this 4×4 stuff is awesome! The car really shone off road. I promptly modified it as far as the law would allow (mud tyres, lift, winch, a few other underbody and suspension changes), and it is now a very capable partner in my 4×4 adventures. 

The family all enjoy 4×4 outings very much, and I have found a purpose and hobby that is very rewarding. The Wrangler is still hard work to drive and demands concentration in order just to stay alive but as someone very wise (my sister in law) once said to me “interesting things are never easy”. 

So not one to rest on my laurels, a few years has passed, and I have decided to add to the non-boring stable.  After spending ages searching for just the right supercar (it turns out second hand Lambos are both expensive and rare – who knew), I went to see a 3 year old Toyota 86. The dealer assured me it was traded in by an 80 year old man who couldn’t drive it anymore. I was a bit suspicious of this story, as the 86 hardly seems like a choice for an elderly gent, but second hand car salesmen wouldn’t tell me stories would they?   Anyway, that car now sits in the garage, waiting its turn to be tuned and modified for grass roots motorsport like motorkhanas and track days. I can’t wait.

However, like the Wrangler, the 86 is hard work every day. It’s low and difficult to get in and out, the manual gearbox is impossible to drive smoothly, visibility is non-existent and the ride is so rough that I carry a kidney belt in the car. But like the Wrangler, every time I get behind the wheel, a huge grin spreads over my face and I just want to drive it – anywhere. 

So I am completely on board with ‘life is too short for boring cars’ but there is a trade-off to be made.  Non-boring cars are seldom easy to live with and are unlikely to be the families first choice for a Sunday drive! That’s why we have a Nissan X-trail for family duties, and I wouldn’t have the set-up any other way.


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About Author

Richard Henning

Richard Henning has always been a car enthusiast, and has been indulging his passion for cars by throwing himself into the 4x4 world and more recently the track day scene. He is a member of various car clubs in Sydney and hopes to be a part time motoring journalist in his spare time. He has extensive experience of responsible 4WD in the Sydney and Canberra region and has completed just about all the available certifications, and holds a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

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