What's a "boy racer"?

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Sir,

Please define a “boy racer,” an Editorial expression which has long intrigued me. It conjures up the familiar picture of a small tin box, adorned with black and white chequered tape, the front number plate painted on the bonnet, lots of badges, a spotlight on the roof, bogus knock-off hub caps and twin tail pipes. These pathetic attempts to make it different from its countless brothers should excite pity rather than sneers, but some embellishments are psychologically dangerous.

Accessory shops stock mud-flaps bearing the words “You have just been Mini-ed.” This childish gimmick could easily incite some immature personality to give chase, thereby disobeying that part of the Highway Code which forbids competition with other road users. He would also doubtless add to the toll of the roads.

Now sir, you apply this presumably derogatory expression “boy racer” to Vintage machinery—lately to an Alvis with Brooklands silencer. Surely there were Alvis cars at Brooklands fitted with the regulation track silencer. Would you classify a “Le Mans Replica” Bentley as a “boy racer”?

Glasgow.
B. Kelly.

[A “boy racer” is a description I coined to imply someone who has cut about a perfectly decent car so that, in its owner’s opinion, it looks like a racing car. A “Le Mans Replica” Bentley is a legitimate vintage car—a cut-and-shut Bentley with, for example, an unnecessarily long bonnet, ridiculously abbreviated body, oversize tyres, racing roundels, outside exhaust pipes, that kind of thing, particularly if driven by an “unknown” in white overalls, constitutes, for me, a “boy racer.” But then we do foolish things before we mature—I confess to driving a Derby Bentley in tennis shoes, in the mistaken idea that I was a very fast young man.—ED.)

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