Freedom is a relative concept that can take on many forms. It can mean the first breath of fresh air after being released from prison. Others will think of their ability to walk the streets without feeling the slightest sense of danger. However, when I think of freedom, driving cars is what comes to mind. More specifically when I bought my first one a week ago, a Peugeot 206.
The evolution of freedom throughout my lifetime.
The ways in which I have felt freedom have always come down to one thing: mobility. Some time ago I had this conversation with my mother about the hell she went through when I was a kid. Always up and crying. Why, you ask? Because I couldn’t walk yet. Fast forward a few years and you’ll see my father running with me as I try to stay upright on my bicycle. At the time, I was too young to grasp what it meant, but looking back, I can tell that those moments were those of complete ecstasy.
This type of ecstasy would not be attained for a significant period of time. It must have been some ten years until it returned in the form in which I felt a similar feeling to that of my first bike ride.
When it returned, it was on a completely different scale. Next-level, if you will. For a short period, I competed at a karting school in Middelburg. I loved it, but it wasn’t for me. However, on the way back post-training or event, my father and I would find a spot to hang out, where he could let me drive our van. This is the same van we took on the road last year. It’s been in our possession for over ten years, easily. The T5 holds a large portion of our family’s history. It’s astounding. Anyway, at these parking spots, or open spaces of road people would rarely visit, we switched places, allowing me to take full control of the Volkswagen. I still remember as if it was this morning. Unfortunately, by driving the T5, I was only making it harder on myself. At 15, I had finally gotten a taste of what real driving was about. Something I had longed for since I first realized my true love had now become a harsh reality. Only three more years until I was of legal driving age.
At 18, I started my driving lessons. Thirteen lessons and nineteen hours. The timing was spot on. I could immediately take our T5 on the road. It was freedom in every sense of the word. As of that moment I was allowed to drive legally, making it possible for me to visit any place I’d like.
A little over a year later, having put at least 10-to-15k miles under my belt, I started a new job at a car dismantling company. A month and some days passed and some things started to brew. It wouldn’t be much longer until I bought the Peugeot 206 from the man who hired me. Total freedom had been achieved, and a lifelong dream had finally become a reality. I actually own a car now. What the fuck.
How I obtained the Peugeot 206.
We’re barely a week into ownership and I have yet to tell some of my dearest friends. Some know, because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut while I was in the process of buying it. Others have actually seen it, because I visited them after I bought it. So far, the reactions have been outright priceless. But really, that’s not why I got the car. I dislike materialism as much as the next-best free spirit, but cars obviously have a soft, sweet spot in my heart and soul. I bought the 206, because it was a matter of timing. Everything seemed right. I will be honest, I never actually considered the fact that this Peugeot would be a potential candidate for a first car, yet it still ended up being the irreversible one. I always figured I’d buy some classic car, or something you rarely see on the road. A true gearhead’s car. Turns out I was so wrong.
The Peugeot 206 is a true women’s car, in the sense that it will always be the latter pick of the household. The second car. Mom’s grocery hatchback. You name it. FinnikKenteken, an app that keeps track of all the cars in the Netherlands, actually showed me a larger percentage of women own 206’s, in contrast to men. This did not stop me from buying it, though. After realizing chances were high my impulses had gotten the best of me and I was likely to buy it, I started to dive into everything that had the name “Peugeot 206” written across it. Turns out, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
The Mk1 206, dating back to 1998 (the one I own is a ’99 model) was actually commended for its handling, as well as its comfortability. This was something I noticed upon driving it for the first time. Sure, I might be stupid enough to buy it impulsively, but if it wasn’t worth it, there was no way in hell the deal would be on. Turns out there is a reason why this was – and still is – Peugeot’s best-selling car, ever. It will go a long way, knows little technical issues and has a fairly timeless look. As I got deeper and deeper into my research, memories and nostalgic feelings started to pop up ever more frequently. Then I remembered. The 206 had already been a huge part of my life, as it was one of the starter cars in Need For Speed Underground 2, a game I literally played to its death. Combine this with the first drive in it, and it becomes apparent we’re almost at a point of no return. All that remained was a fitting price and we would be ready for a deal. We figured this out rather quickly too. One-and-a-half weeks, some check-ups and a bunch more discussions later, it was time.
September 22nd, 2016 marks the date where I purchased my first car. Within the first week, I must have already put another 500km on it, if not more. Since I own the car this short, I think it’s safe to assume I discovered very little about its behavior yet. A first impression, however, I do have.
As I said earlier on, the comfortability was what struck me most about the 206. The springs damper every single den in the road, no matter the speed. I have yet to come across one that can bring the Peugeot 206 to its knees. And even though the suspension seems so soft, it doesn’t slump through corners. I don’t get the sensation that if I were to pull the wheel a tad too forcefully, I’ll commit to a triple-barrel-roll. Comfort does not just end there, though. Granted, I have not taken it on massively long trips yet, but after 1.5 hours behind the wheel, the seats suits me well. Again, there is this softness to them, that relieves you of any stress you might have at that time. The entire car seemed to be built around that main principle. It’s as if the 206 wants you to feel like you’re constantly being hugged by a giant, mushy panda, that loves you forever, in a place where time and space don’t seem to exist. Too much? I don’t know. Have you tried it?
Then there’s the engine. Whenever I think “small car” I immediately associate with useless gas pedals. I have driven numerous small cars, some on occasion, others regularly, and the majority have been rather underwhelming. The Peugeot 206, however, does not go into the same ballpark. It’s quick to react and respond to any activity, and it does so at any speed. I feel little difference when accelerating on a back road, compared to a highway. Overtaking is not a shameful operation. When I want to pass someone, I can do so in a swift and effective way. This is one of the traits I have come to enjoy a lot over the past week. That, in combination with its comfort, makes it a terrific car to start out with as a youngster.
That’s all for now. Once I have gotten more familiar with it, I will post an update. Also, expect regular articles featuring my very own car, the Peugeot 206, a.k.a. Harambe.
Have a good one,