The only car I have felt unsafe in is a Morgan. It was a sort of pink leather bath on wheels that screamed down the road while men over sixty waved at it. I was right to be nervous. The delivery man crashed it on the way home. A photograph of the crushed Morgan – it was distinctive when formed, and even more so when broken – was circulated on Facebook by the man who recovered it. I initially thought the delivery driver was dead. (He wasn’t. 'Road conditions,' he said, when I telephoned him in hospital. It had rained).
I don’t mind telling you this, because I will never drive another Morgan because I want to live. The Morgan cannot be made safe; if it were invented now, as part of a motoring branch of cottage core, it would not be allowed on the road. Its owners do not want it to be safe; if they did, they would buy a Honda Jazz.
It is a truism that cars are now perfect and trundle out of factories in varying shades of perfection with their heated neck rests and bespoke gilding. It’s perfect, cry car critics, which is dull, but since the alternative is dangerous, we should be pleased.
Perfect SUVs, perfect hot hatches, perfect limousines, perfect super-minis. I have stood in front of a Bentley GT – undoubtedly a perfect car - and the only thought I had was: is there too much glitter in the paintwork? Because if this were my Bentley, not Bentley’s Bentley, it wouldn’t be glittery for it would be built according to my non-glittery longings (My Bentley would be green like a forest, if I could find a forest to match it to).
A forest-green Bentley is apt and righteous, because we have reached the end of petrol. I have put off saying this is print, because I am late to cars, and have not caught up yet. I am still beguiled by the base and slightly disgusting thrill that, in such a car, I am, at last, not a small middle-aged woman who is scared of roundabouts, but an apex predator. But it is unanswerable: this is a final act. Soon there will only be electric cars and my central question is: what noise will they make when the V8 has gone? Will each car have its own bespoke noise? Can I have ABBA Gold? Enya?
If I could see out the last days of petrol in any car it would be the Lexus LC convertible. The lovely LC has a retractable roof that sinks in sixteen seconds at speeds of under 31 miles per hour so beware a storm on a motorway; they haven’t yet made a lane slow enough for this manoeuvre. It is a car to rival the mighty Porsche 911 and can move male motoring journalist to poetry; they put all their superlatives in a row and regard them with happy surprise and also a wistfulness, because they will soon cease to exist. (One called the noise of the exhaust 'heart melting' which made me wonder what he says to women).
The Lexus LC convertible is a Grand Tourer, not a sports car – no sports car would win best luxury car in Women’s World Car of the Year Awards 2021 – designed to drive in comfort to the palaces in your mind, or, failing that, primary schools. But the potential is there for more. It used to be the convention that, when reviewing a Lexus, you had to mention Alan Partridge, who loved them, which is more sad than funny, because Partridge, though flawed, had a small dream.
Now it is the critic who looks foolish for doing so, because the LC convertible is madly beautiful, angular and strange: it has a vast grille and long, slender headlights which blink like a Disney Princess and so explain, at least partially, its appeal to women. Childhoods die hard for women.
The interior is sumptuous – as comfortable as a Volvo, someone said, which isn’t as passive aggressive as it sounds. It is more sumptuous than dearer rivals – and covered with leather though it is basically a two-seater, unless your passengers are luggage, or dogs (but that is true of all such cars).
The engine is a 5.0-litre V8 that gasps, though politely; it accelerates to 62mph in five seconds. The drive is enough to invoke dreams of Top Gun. It’s slightly over £90,000 and, though I could say more about it – the wheels! The suspension! The lines! – the truth is, the Lexus LC convertible is perfect, and there it is. I want one very much, in bubble pink: the same shade as the interior of the now dead and unlamented Morgan.
The final years of petrol will be the last act of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, then, at least for me: a farewell to such perfection, with hands stretched ecstatically to the sky.