I’m in the market for a new car. It’s not a position I’ve been in for quite some time, and it’s not really one I want to be in either, but sometimes you don’t get a lot of choice in such things.

When I was younger, through necessity I went through an awful lot of cars. I say ‘necessity’ because money was in short supply, so what I could afford was generally fairly clapped out to begin with and would last, at best, a couple of years before it became economically unviable to maintain. I stuck to a simple principle – when the cost of keeping it on the road exceeded the value of the car, it was time to move on.

It’s a principle that I still follow today, even though I’ve not had to think of it for some time. My current vehicle has performed astonishingly well, even though I’ve given it a bit of a thrashing. It’s just passed its 4th MOT in a row without needing anything doing – something of a miracle for a cat that’s almost 15 years old! However it has a lurking, and – as far as I’m concerned – terminal illness. A leaky water pump may not seem like a big deal, but it’s steadily getting worse, and to replace it will also require the replacement of the timing belt… As the nice man at the garage said: “Big bucks!”

So, I’m afraid the time has come to start thinking about retiring the old girl off and I’m really not going to enjoy it. I know that it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to find or afford anything as fast or powerful as what I have now and I really don’t want to make a decision that I’ll regret in future. Then again, I can’t afford to shell out a huge amount, neither do I particularly want to tie myself down to finance… It’s going to be a headache.

If only things were as simple as in SL. I’ll be the first to admit that even virtual vehicles – half-decent ones, anyway – can be costly, but not ruinously so like their RL cousins; and you certainty don’t need to take out a zillion per cent APR finance deal in order to buy one. Neither are you going to see your new pride and joy depreciate to a fraction of what you paid for it within a matter of hours!

No tax, no insurance, no servicing, exorbitant maintenance charges, MOTs, bridge tolls, congestion charges, fuel costs or cleaning bird poop off your windscreen. You’re unlikely to break down or need new tyres, and you’ll never have to worry about having spare change for parking. You can drive off road and crash as often as you want and never have to be concerned about damage and repair costs. You can even drive on the wrong side of the road, whilst under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, whilst texting, paying no need to driving conditions, and generally behaving like an idiot, with absolute impunity and no penalty. The roads are mostly empty, long, straight and interesting and there are vehicles to suit every taste, from supercars to scooters. It’s a petrol head’s paradise!

If you ask me, virtual motoring has it all – it’s cheap, fun, safe, and it doesn’t harm the environment. In fact, if it wasn’t for one teeny weeny, barely worth mentioning drawback it would be perfect… But there is one blot on the horizon: I’m simply hopeless when it comes to even pretending to be vaguely in control of any virtual vehicle.

Whether we’re talking garbage truck, low rider, dragster, rock-crawler or runabout, all SL vehicles have one thing in common: I’m entirely incapable of driving any of them in any fashion that could be remotely considered as competent.Maybe I’m just a little heavy-handed and need something of a lighter touch when it comes to inworld driving, or perhaps it’s not me at all, and SL vehicles are inherently uncontrollable, but whatever it is, it’s always disappointing to rez a shiny new car and jump into the driving seat, only to career off wildly down the road, bouncing off walls, buildings and barely being able to maintain a straight line.

Ultimately, what I really want is a car that handles like the real thing in SL or, a RL vehicle that possesses the best attributes of the virtual equivalent.

Better still, could I have both?

s. x

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

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