Car Indicators’ MARTIN WILSON, takes an AC Cobra-inspired BDR Roadster on a hot and windy drive in South Africa to speculate on, what may soon become, a guilty pleasure . . .

THEY call it a roadster. But in the unforgiving Cape Town summer sun, this car is more roaster than roadster. With the generous curves of Marilyn Monroe and the throaty roar of Joe Cocker, it’s best to heed Joe’s advice and keep your hat on, even if some like it hot.

With the V8 announcing your arrival, this is a head turner on a par with Linda Blair. A feast for the eyes and ears it seems designed for the sole purpose of bringing joy to the world. This is not a car to evoke envy; it is a car that makes true the adage that ‘there are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet’. This car is the closest I’ve got to being Ferris Bueller on his day off, all Twist and Shout and bonhomie.

“Everybody wants to be your friend. A Ferrari passed by on the other side of the road and I swear it looked wistful”.

For a time when the McQueen to admire was Steve not Alexander, when we did things for love, not Likes. When things were all a bit more . . . well, real – more visceral than virtual. Driving the Cobra, I’m minded to rebuild my vinyl record collection and invest in real books. E-this and I-that seem somewhat shallow when the fierce Cape Town wind is sandblasting your face.

Backdraft Roadstser

I’d meant to mention the wind earlier. It’s the kind of wind that in other cities of the world, you might find a CNN reporter dodging roof panels and uprooted trees and shouting to the camera. But not in Cape Town, and certainly not Camps Bay where we collected the car. Everyone and everywhere seemed prepared for what, in the UK, would have the Daily Express salivating over ‘killer storms’.

So we collected our Cobra in blissful ignorance and headed – as you might expect – to one of the world’s great drives. But Chapman’s Peak Drive was closed. Too windy. A detour took us through a landscape that was all too reminiscent of the M62 between Leeds and Manchester.

I had not expected to use the word ‘bleak’ in this review, but I swear I heard Kate Bush at one point, as we traversed the wiley, windy moor. Our Cobra was light on mod cons, like heating, or a roof, so this was a part of the drive when we sorely missed our Nissan Almera. Which gives you a sense of how bad things got. But bad does not last long round here, and for every mist-bound mountain pass there’s a sun-drenched winery.

So thank you Cape Point Vineyard and your glorious views of the majestic Noerdhoek beach. You made it all worthwhile. As we left the vineyard’s car park, a small boy – I’d guess 3 years old – watched the Cobra, transfixed. I’m not sure driverless or electric will have him so spellbound. Sometimes progress is just so overrated. I know, I know, there’s the not insignificant challenge of saving the planet to consider.  But if that means intelligence that’s artificial and reality that’s virtual, what’s left worth saving?  

As the Cobra roared us from tranquil vineyard to windswept beach, and from cloudy peaks to sunlit valleys, we were reminded that ‘connection’ doesn’t just come after ‘wifi’. To paraphrase Eels – “hey man, now we’re really living”. 


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