As I’ve said before, I work on magazines about commercial vehicles and farm machinery, and sometimes I’m required to go various shows.
Earlier this year I went to the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in Birmingham, and while there I chose to take advantage of Ford’s offer to test drive a vehicle. The vehicle in question was a Ford Courier, and although the lovely woman who took me out and I ended up getting a bit lost it was all good fun.
It definitely an was an experience, and one I got repeat today at VanExperience LIVE hosted by Mercedes-Benz. Held at Millbrook Proving Ground (where James Bond’s Aston Martin completed that record breaking roll-sequence in Casino Royale), the whole day was devoted to vans.
My day started off very much like my Ford test drive, I successfully navigated my way to Millbrook, only to get lost once inside! However, once I found my way I was led through several exercises and experiences. As Millbrook is used to test many prototypes, we weren’t allowed to take any photos, and the lenses on our cameras and phones were covered as necessary. This was a bit of a shame as we got to do quite a few amazing things which I would have loved some photos of just to show people, but by the same token I was kind of busy driving so selfies really weren’t appropriate! Having said that, everyone got a photo taken next to a Mercedes van which will be posted out to us in due course, so hopefully I’ll have a great memento of my day as well as some great memories.
In total today, I drove seven different vans and was a passenger in six more, so that’s thirteen all together. Highlights for me was off-road driving the 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter Van – my first time driving an automatic and I went down a near vertical hill – and test driving the Mercedes-Benz Citan around Millbrook’s City track – I got an extra lap and the supervisor was great, telling me which route would be the best to take to have a speedy run, I reckon if I’d carried on I’d have probably wanted a career change to a racing driver.
Sometimes it’s the things we’d never think we’d end up doing that give us the best experiences. I can’t say I’d ever given vans much thought before this job, let alone driving them around tracks or through mud, but VanExperience LIVE let me do that, and it’s definitely something I’ll carry with me.