I’m going to stick my neck out and say that September and October are the best months of the year for drivers like us – at least in the northern hemisphere.
The obvious thought is that summer is the best time to be a car guy. Daylight arrives sooner, giving you lighter, quieter roads, and the best likelihood of sunshine and dry asphalt. But summer is a bit characterless, as seasons go. Trees and undergrowth are flat green; not that lush bright green of Spring before it or the kaleidoscope of Autumn (Fall) colours that come after.
In the last few years Spring in the UK, and maybe in other countries too, seems to be clinging onto the annoyingly low temperatures and regular rainfall of Winter, before stopping for a couple of pretty sweet weeks sometime in April or May. Spring is hit-and-miss, with too much miss.
But September and October are absolutely awesome months to drive in. Not only do you get the afterglow of summer, where temperatures have dropped to a perfect level but the sun still shines often enough, but you also get atmosphere.
At this time of year you get more colour in the light through the sunrise and sunset, and they’re at civilised times of day. That makes it so much easier to enjoy them: grab your keys before dawn, hit the road as the sky starts to get light and bask in the absolute glory of a stunning daybreak streaming through your windows as your exhaust noise fills that little corner of the world with the song of your people.
Then, when you stop for a minute, it’s peak season for photo potential. This one (below) isn’t the best, but it’s what you like that counts.
One of the best drives I ever had involved a pre-dawn start in September. My brother, his mate Andy and I all had Renault Sport Clio 182s, at the time. Mine was a standard car in Black Gold; my brother’s was Titanium (silver) with the Cup chassis and Andy’s was a beautiful Capsicum Red Trophy.
We left for the English Peak District at about 5am one Sunday morning, and as the sun began to set the landscape ablaze with colour the three of us were in convoy, absolutely flat-out along a winding pass near Buxton, safe in the knowledge that whoever was leading and however hard they were attacking, those following could keep up. God damn, it was fun. We were home in time for a late breakfast of bacon sandwiches, and it was a morning I’ll never forget.
Would it have been the same in summer? Maybe the drive itself would have been, but the atmosphere wouldn’t have. The colourful landscape, the fiery sunrise, the long shadows that seemed to last forever, the cool air when we stopped for a break – Autumn is the finest time of year to drive. By the time the weather turns towards the end of October and the rains slide in to stay, make sure you’ve banked some new memories.