I Hate Rev Counters

I Hate Rev Counters

It’s not just rev counters, of course. I hate lots of things but rev counters are a good place to start. Back when I first started to drive, rev counters were rare. They were on racing cars, sports cars, the Ghia versions of big Fords and somewhat inexplicably on my dad’s Lada 1500 estate. Dad taught me to drive in that Lada estate. On my very first lesson, he told me press the clutch, put it into first gear, take the revs up about 2,000rpm and then lift the clutch gently until I felt it engage, give it a little more accelerator then let the clutch out the rest of the way. I did as I was told, moved off without stalling and have barely glanced at the rev counter since.

Rev counters have their place, of course. You need them if you’re lapping Oulton Park or Snetterton. (Other race tracks are available.) I can’t reasonably think of other cirumstances when you might actually need a rev counter and yet they are standard equipment in everything from Toyota Aygos to Bentley Mulsannes. The Bentley driver has so much torque that he needn’t ever exceed 3,000rpm and he will still absolutely fly. The driver of the Aygo is hardly going to kiss the red paint on every gearchange on the way to Pets at Home for more budgie seed even if the rev counter is mounted on a sporty little pod.

It’s that ‘sporty’ word which does it. I don’t want sporty. Sporty has no place in Sainsbury’s car park, the school run or even the outside lane of the A1(M) just north of Baldock. And if you can’t hear when you need to change gear then you don’t deserve a driving licence never mind a car with a manual gearbox. An extra wee dial on the dash or hanging off it on a pod is only the start. You end up with uncomfortable suspension, loud exhausts and Nurburgring lap times. It’s a god-awful, slippery slope.

If you think I’m being an old woman, think about the analogy of sportswear. Imagine a fat bloke in Lycra shorts, his ample belly stretching his form-fitting t-shirt so much that his hairy navel is showing. He’s chain smoking while he drips tomato sauce from his bacon double Whopper onto his trainers. He puts his tab down only long enough to take another pull on his pint. All the sporty gear in the world is not going to make this man into an athlete.

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