10 things for petrolheads to do during Covid-19 lockdown

30 March 2020 - 12:00
Some say that Top Gear's Stig is immune to the coronavirus but you unfortunately are not. This is why we're presenting you with this list of activities to keep your inner-petrolhead busy over the Covid-19 lockdown.
Some say that Top Gear's Stig is immune to the coronavirus but you unfortunately are not. This is why we're presenting you with this list of activities to keep your inner-petrolhead busy over the Covid-19 lockdown.
Image: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The national 21-day lockdown heralds uncertain and unusual times for South Africans – and indeed the global collective – as we heed the call to fight Covid-19 by staying put.

The motoring department here at Arena Holdings has geared-up to embrace a more intensified form of deskbound journalism for the time being.

We decided it would be useful to compile a small list of activities for the reader with a passion for the nuts and bolts of mobility, which you no doubt are, having clicked this. Of course, this is not a definitive list but more of a light-hearted guide.

Let us know if you have suggestions we might have missed.

Read your car's operating manual . You will be amazed to learn things you didn't know.
Read your car's operating manual . You will be amazed to learn things you didn't know.
Image: Supplied

1. Read your car’s operating manual

Ever done this before? No? Well, now you have 21 days in which to do it. Some stubborn owners might shun the idea of getting acquainted with their vehicle’s accompanying literature, countering with the notion that experience is the best teacher. Still, there might be some hidden features you’ve overlooked, or it might lead to the disheartening realisation that you’ve been missing the mark with the recommended tyre pressures.

Scanning the online classifieds for your dream car or playing with car configurators is a great way to kill time.
Scanning the online classifieds for your dream car or playing with car configurators is a great way to kill time.
Image: rawpixel / 123rf

2. Fantasy shopping

Many will agree this activity has proved to be a fantastic go-to even in good times. All you need is a smartphone, data, a sense of curiosity and a mental garage with unoccupied parking bays. Easy as that.

Log onto your preferred classifieds listings site and the sky (plus your chosen budget) is the limit. For me, observing the obstinate prices of BMW 1M coupé examples is always a fascinating (and tear-inducing) undertaking. Start browsing for that post-lockdown buy now.

Use this time to give your car a thorough cleaning.
Use this time to give your car a thorough cleaning.
Image: Bhakpong Rattanasaroj

3. Time for a deep cleanse

So, you’ve made a shortlist based on your fantasy shopping expedition. But as the old song goes, since you can’t be with the one you love (for now), love the one you’re with. Take a bucket, sponge, your favourite micro-fibre, preferred foams and a chamois – and get that chariot clean.

Go wild and give it a thorough wax-on too because you have time. It would also be wise to go over the interior, disinfecting those high-contact surfaces that have accumulated weeks, months, years of hand impressions. Make sure you take the necessary, protective precautions.

4. Expand your mental inventory of automotive knowledge

The internet has ushered countless benefits to humankind. Never have we been more empowered to embarrass our peers around fireside conversations than we are now: you can access any bit of information about anything related to the subject of wheels in mere seconds.

Research the topics you might not have found time for previously. Like, why do contemporary performance cars with self-shifting transmissions make farting noises? Or how do sound symposers work (see above)? The web is also filled to the brim with novel trivia. Did you know, for example, that French carmaker Citroën used to assemble cars locally in Gauteng and Eastern Cape? Happy learning.

If you enjoy building stuff, look at range of Lego cars on the market. From the simple Nissan Speed Champions GT-R to far more complex Porsche Technic GT3s, there's a kit to suit every skill level.
If you enjoy building stuff, look at range of Lego cars on the market. From the simple Nissan Speed Champions GT-R to far more complex Porsche Technic GT3s, there's a kit to suit every skill level.
Image: Supplied

5. The joy of creating

This one will depend on how proactive you might have been before the state of disaster was declared. Enviably, there are folks out there for whom model-building has long formed part of their general leisure activities.

If you fall into this category, build on and do share your progress on our social media platforms. If you do not fall into this group, start investigating the world of to-scale representations at once – and no, we would not advise you trying to experiment using your emergency stash of toothpicks and matches while at home.

Gear up for playing.

6. Get in the game

Unlike model-building, the passage of virtual escapism would be much easier to enter right now, with an abundance of car-themed offerings available in the digital realm – even to those who might not own traditional gaming consoles.

7. Socialise from afar

There are many things to be said about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp. Among them is the power with which they have enabled communities with shared interests to get together, even when they are apart.

There is an overwhelming number of pages and accounts to be explored, from the strange and esoteric (we found a Facebook group dedicated to sightings of abandoned cars - see above), to more conventional interests (countless Instagram supercar spotter personalities).

8. Virtual tours

A handy Google search revealed an entire website dedicated to providing users with virtual tours of popular car museums around the world. It also revealed there is an actual car dealership named Virtual Motors in the former mining town of Rayton, Tshwane. Not what we were looking for, but you will find links to websites offering virtual showroom experiences too.

9. Keep informed

It would be remiss not to take the opportunity to punt our platforms, kept functioning by award-winning editors and journalists. We will continue to provide motoring content during the lockdown, including news and (where possible) reviews as well as features. Remember our weekly Cargumentative podcast. Subscribe to the main section of TimesLIVE for critical updates beyond the automotive space during this time.

Until the lockdown is lifted keep your car(s) in your garage and yourself inside your home.
Until the lockdown is lifted keep your car(s) in your garage and yourself inside your home.
Image: Kyryl Gorlov / 123rf

10. Stay indoors

You might proffer an eye-roll emoji in response to these suggestions in entirety. Fair enough. It is therefore fitting to conclude with the golden rule applying to the country for the three-week lockdown: unless you fall into the category of essential services individuals, please stay at home.


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