Tim Keen


WOULD YOU LET a complete stranger drive your car? I wouldn’t, and here’s (partly) why – because Kimi Raikkonen broke his mechanic’s leg.

That’s not as random and arbitrary a reason as it sounds (“I don’t face backwards on trains, because Nico Hulkenberg is allergic to tuna salad”) – simply put, it’s because even the world’s best drivers have accidents sometimes.

You might have watched Raikkonen driving over one of his wheelchanger’s legs during a pit stop at the Bahrain GP. (If not, let me save you the gory experience. “Broken tibia and fibula” is all you need to know.) And that’s with a supernaturally gifted wheelman in one of the most tightly controlled situations in the automotive world, the F1 pit lane.

But there’s a whole industry out there based on letting dozy, easily distracted strangers drive your car out there in the hideous messy real world. Sites such as Turo are like the Airbnb of cars – you list your pride and joy, some punter comes and pretends like it’s his for the weekend, and he and his knucklehead friends listen to bad music on your stereo and fart on your upholstery. At least when it’s your house, they can’t T-bone it into a Tarago.

Sure, the car sharing companies have insurance to cover accidents, but do they have insurance to cover the angry electric jolt of violation and betrayal that sparks in your heart every time you see your baby and know that someone did her wrong... and that you were complicit? Ask Woody Harrelson how he felt about Demi Moore after one night with Robert Redford. Oh Woody, you short-sighted fool.

My car is not just one more interchangeable clone-machine that can be replaced with the latest one off the line. It’s my car.

Imagine a dog-sharing service, where some stranger pays you fifty bucks a day to borrow your dog, and then Sir Rex-A-Lot gets hit by a car (maybe by a stranger driving your own car, for the worst-day-ever jackpot). And Dog Sharing Dot Com says, “Hey, don’t worry, we’ll cover the cost of buying an identical dog.”

I don’t want an identical dog! I want my dog! I was, like, 60 per cent of the way through training him to fetch cans of beer from the fridge! I don’t want your filthy blood-money, Dog Sharing Dot Com, I want you to take Sir Rex-A-Lot’s body to a Pet Sematary on an ancient Indian burial ground and return him to me, because I would rather have a demon-dog who is the soulless husk of my real friend, than some fluffy lookalike who just rubs my nose every day in the fact that he can’t even open a fridge door, let alone tenderly grasp a can of VB in his jaws! (Sorry, this hypothetical has sort of gotten away from me here.)

Regardless of the way the world seems to be heading, actually owning your car is part of the thrill – the connection between man and ride. It’s always been this way. Did the Lone Ranger say, “Hi-ho Nameless Interchangeable Steed”? No. He did not.

It’s not just cars, either. For our two-wheeled brethren there is Twisted Road, which is the same thing: Airbnb for motorbikes. Motorbikes! Even good, sensible, experienced motorcyclists have an average of 12 fatal crashes a week. Riding a motorbike is statistically as safe as being shot out of a cannon, and you’re going to lend your cannon – uh, bike – to a stranger and hope that this is the one day when someone doesn’t open their door into traffic without looking? Well, good luck to you, sir.

Get your motor running and head out on the highway – and not just a motor, your motor. Mr Steppenwolf was very clear about this.

Drive it like you stole it? Nothing beats ‘drive it like you own it’.