MAN OF ACTION -- Hello everyone, this is your host Gary Perkins AKA GP007 on the forum with an audio presentation for BeingJamesBond.com. I would like to offer a big thanks to Sandy Shepard and Jamie Fellrath for affording me this opportunity to present to you some tips, advice and guidance on the world of high speed driving. So without further ado let’s put the car into gear, drop the clutch and speed into the podcast!
Since the invention of the modern automobile in 1886, mankind has had a professed love affair with speed, wind in the hair and the open road. The romantic and hypnotizing lure of the road is something that draws us in and rarely let’s go once it has taken hold.
Car chases and high speed driving are associated with both classic and modern Hollywood films. In fact, this action sequence has become a staple of any respectable action film due to its ability to get the audience’s adrenaline pumping even though they aren’t the one physically behind the wheel. The James Bond canon of films has many memorable car chases and automobiles featured from the very first film, Dr. No, where 007 is instructing the chauffeur to evade a suspicious following vehicle, to Roger Moore pushing a Citroen 2CV to its physical limits in For Your Eyes Only, to The Quantum of Solace where Daniel Craig deftly maneuvers his Aston Martin DBS on a scenic cliff-side road bordering the Italian Lakes with what must have been a very irate Mr. White riding in the trunk.
One thing we can ascertain from the Bond films is that James Bond not only appreciates the finest in food, drink and clothing but also he has quite an affinity for fine automobiles. While most of us probably can’t afford a brand new Aston Martin, Lotus or Range Rover, what we can do is shop smart and equip our own vehicles to suit our quest for living like James Bond.
So the first step is to seek out your perfect Bond car. For those of you with a vehicle already, this may be a part which may not necessarily apply to you at the moment but there may be a point later down the line where you will upgrade your current car. While Bond drives many exotic cars, there are many that you can have for a very fair price and some that you may have thought were out of reach but could be within your budget. In Tomorrow Never Dies, 007 uses his cell phone to control his 1997 BMW 750iL. This full size sedan (as well as the closely equipped 740iL) can be regularly found on car classified sites for between $4,000 to $7,000 depending on the mileage and condition. When shopping for a used vehicle, especially one with high mileage over 100,000, it would be wise to consult a mechanic to give the car a once over for any trouble spots to let you know if you are being sold a reliable car or a never ending money pit.
So perhaps a used car of that age or body style may not be your first choice of Bond car. Maybe you would just like a car you can style to fit your personality and taste. The options here are virtuously limitless with many foreign and domestic brands putting together sharp, well-styled and equipped automobiles. Sadly we don’t have a Q Branch to issue us the latest and greatest in state of the art transportation, so outside of the internet car classified ads, the most common way to purchase a car is to visit your local dealership. Car buying can be a blend of savvy, mathematics, and outright battle. You want to make sure you get the best deal you can so you’re not overpaying, and the dealership wants to profit as much as they can to meet sales figures. You may have to dig deep into your 007 skills of persuasion and intuitively reading people and situations to make sure you have the confidence to get the car you want at the price you want. As a word of caution, make sure that your personal tastes, fantasies or emotions don’t cause you to buy more car than you can afford! You’d look ridiculous driving a new Mercedes and rolling change for gasoline (petrol for our UK listeners).
When buying a car new or used, there are several websites and publications you can use to help you make your decision. Autotrader.com, Edmunds.com, and Consumer Reports are wonderful resources to research not only cost and availability but also reliability, reviews and any issues you may run into in the future. Keep in mind that while some problems are major such as engine issues, transmission issues, major oil leaks or structural damage, there are some that can be fixed with a little bit of a basic mechanical skill like changing fluids, replacing spark plugs or learning how to use a good buffer to restore the paint’s gloss and shine. At the end of the day you want to make a good decision based upon both your mechanical skills and the cost the car out of pocket. Remember to always get an insurance quote prior to purchasing. While you may get a great deal on a brand new Lexus, the insurance costs may take you outside of your budget.
With the way automobiles are equipped today, you would think you had Q himself installing all of the toys and gadgetry. While local laws may prevent you from installing rocket launchers or machine guns, you can have some essentials such as a GPS navigation device, dash camera or even something as simple as an interface for your MP3 player to enhance your driving experience. Today most smartphones are equipped with enough tech to combine the majority of these devices into one simple package.
So you have the car, you have the gadgets, so how can you learn to drive like James Bond? There are many driving schools and classes you can attend to teach you some of the basics of defensive driving or how to power a car through a race course. In this podcast I can give you some of the basics to help get you started.
First is what’s called your driving position. This is the relationship of your body in the seat as it is to the distance between you and the steering wheel as well as how your hands are placed on the steering wheel and how your feet interact with the pedals. While sitting in the seat itself, the driver's back should be flat against the back of the seat with the buttocks squarely tucked into the corner created at the intersection of the seat back and bottom.
The underside of the legs should be in contact with the seat bottom. Your wrists should sit on the top of the steering wheel at the bend of the wrist and you should be able to flex your wrists fully downward. Your feet should be able to reach the pedals easily where you can maintain a comfortable bend in your knees. On the steering wheel your hands should be at a 9 and 3 position as you would see them on a clock face. This is contrary to the 10 and 2 position which you probably learned in your driving license manual. The 9 and 3 position gives the driver more control and range of motion on the wheel when you are entering or leaving corners. Remember to relax your grip on the wheel to allow more feedback to be felt through your fingers.
Now that you have a proper seating position, let’s talk about acceleration and braking. There are two words you should always associate with acceleration and braking…gentle and smooth. In both cases, remember that the car’s tires have a limit to the traction they can provide whether the surface is wet or dry. Depending on the car’s suspension setup, you should brake rapidly upon entering a corner and gradually decrease your braking and go onto the accelerator as you begin to leave it. A stiffer suspension allows you to brake harder than that of a softer setup. A softer suspension will cause the front end of the car to dive the nose towards the pavement, thus, loading the suspension by compressing the front springs which will also push the front tires onto the road giving you more traction. If you release the brake too quickly, you run the risk of changing the traction level too drastically which can result in the car not turning in the direction you plan to travel. As you leave the corner, applying the accelerator gently and smoothly will ensure that you don’t send too much power to the wheels, risking a loss of traction. Assessing the car you’re driving as well as the surface you’re on will pay dividends towards how aggressively you are able to maneuver your vehicle. On the street, you may not push your car as you would on a racetrack, however, you may be called upon to perform an emergency maneuver if someone pulls out in front of you so this information is still applicable depending on your situation.
Lastly, let’s talk about cornering. There are 3 distinct points to a corner: The turn-in point, the apex and the exit point. The turn-in point, is where turning begins. The apex is the point where the car reaches the furthest point on the inside of the turn. It is at this point where you should be accelerating out of the corner towards the exit point. The exit is where the car is driving straight again. Essentially what you are trying to do is turn the corner into as much of a straight line as possible. The path you follow to do this is called the racing line. As long as you can determine the proper line through the corner, by judging there the apex is, you can go through the corner at the fastest speed. One key in cornering is to be sure to look ahead of where your car is. In other words, look at the apex of the corner and not at the hood of the car and as you move past the apex look towards the exit point and so on. Where the eyes go, the head will follow. When it comes to cornering, as I was told at the Audi Driving Experience, “Squealing tires are happy tires.
High performance driving is both a science and an art. I hope that this podcast has given you some basic information on how to enhance both your driving experience and driving technique. For further information on how to enhance your driving skills you can visit some of the websites used to help make this podcast including www.turnfast.com, www.autotrader.com and www.edmunds.com. For driving schools and instruction you can check out the world famous Skip Barber Racing School at www.skipbarber.com .
One final word of note, remember that safety during operation of a motor vehicle is your responsibility. There is a time and a place for everything but remember that speeding, erratic maneuvering and any form of racing are illegal and dangerous to you and others on the roads. It is also worth saying that drinking and driving is not only illegal but extremely irresponsible and dangerous. And with that, I bring this podcast to an end. I would like to once again thank Jamie Fellrath and Sandy Shepard for giving me the opportunity to present this information to you. So buckle up, put on Backseat Driver from the Tomorrow Never Dies soundtrack, and for god’s sake 007 try to bring it back in one piece!