Inspiration. It’s a consciousness that powers what we do and defines who we are.
Imagine South Africa without the inspiration of the 1995 World Cup rugby victory. Imagine a world of pop music without the inspiration of The Beatles, U2 or Eminem. Imagine walking into an art gallery and staring, belatedly, at beautifully barren walls covered in solid cream-coloured paint.
Imagine a world where Steve Jobs was not inspired to create Apple computers. Where someone working at the US space agency (Nasa) was not inspired to try to convince his or her colleagues that humans could walk on the moon. Imagine a world where some ancient creature was not inspired to fabricate a round object that would make hauling a cart around the local “shopping mall” much easier.
Inspiration has a different meaning for just about everyone on the planet. For one person it could be an act of inspiration to simply roll out of bed in the morning, to go to work. For that person’s neighbour it could be climbing a mountain to experience the view from the summit, and to feel the cold, fresh air fill the lungs.
Another person may find inspiration in certain literary works. Others get their fix via the internet, or television, or even through “inspirational” SMS messages.
Some others again claim to find inspiration by consuming or inhaling human-made concoctions which are listed quite prominently in police training manuals. Some walk around in their birthday suits at special resorts for birthday suit-minded people.
A large segment of the world’s population finds inspiration in communal spiritual communities such as religion.
Essentially, though, inspiration is something we can’t do without, and we all have different ways of looking for it, finding it, utilising it, embracing it and – sometimes — ostracising it. And correspondingly, as already established, different people are inspired by different factors.
Now, before you think your copy of Leisure Wheels has magically been turned into Psychiatry R Us for Dumb Journalists, not to worry – the reason I’m on about inspiration this month is simply that I was recently inspired in a unique way.
This inspiration was not one of those daily SMS messages, or a cool story about a cat that travelled 1400km to find its owner, or a one-legged tortoise that was saved from the busy highway and now has a lioness as his best friend.
I was inspired on so many levels by a car. And I have to thank German engineer Gotlieb Daimler, both directly and indirectly, for this inspiration.
Daimler created the first successful high-speed internal combustion engine in 1882 and later, in 1889, the first four-wheeled automobile.
Today, neither the internal combustion engine nor the automobile are unique. In fact, they are a dime-a-million. They have become implements and tools, and although there obviously are fancy ones and fast ones and big ones and rare ones and old ones, they are all, well, cars.
In our line of work we get to drive lots of different cars, and we have to write stories about them. Sometimes it’s really easy to write an article, but at other times a lack of inspiration can turn the task into a bit of a nightmare.
For the past six years or so I’ve been writing about 4x4s and SUVs and double cab bakkies. Every now and then there would be a vehicle or situation that inspired me. Like a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 driven in rally mode, or a back-to-basics Willys Jeep replica, or a 44-inch Arctic Trucks Toyota Hilux, driven on a glacier in Iceland.
But the other day a phenomenon took place that I haven’t experienced in many years. Mercedes-Benz calls it the E63 AMG.
It’s a sedan that is powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine that develops 410 kW of power and 720 Nm of torque at just 1750r/min. It will do the 0-100km/h sprint in just over four seconds, and its ability to chase the horizon is simply staggering.
Yes, it was an amazing and inspiring experience to drive this machine. But it was the reaction of a group of normal, Average Joe kind of people, who drove the E63 in highly controlled conditions at no faster than 60km/h, that really made me sit up and take notice. It was the mere fact that they could sit behind the suede-and-leather covered steering wheel of a R1,3-million car, and push the “start” button that made that hand-built AMG engine erupt in the most beautiful V8 chorus. The faces said it all – sheer motoring nirvana. Sheer inspiration.
For me it was a timely reminder of the inspiration I used to derive from experiencing any new car, whatever it might have been. The sheer exhilaration of turning the key in the ignition, taking in the aura of the cabin, hearing the engine beat its unique music.
Thanks to Gotlieb Daimler and an E63 AMG, I now consider myself freshly – and comprehensively – inspired.