The phenomenon of the boy racer is specific to a group of young men, usually aged between seventeen and twenty-five, who spend their free time driving around with no purpose or destination, in small, cheap, hatchback cars.

Traditionally these lads have been hate-figures for the residents of quiet suburbs, whose peace is shattered each evening by the booming of sub-woofers and revving of engines, augmented by the addition of large-bore exhausts. The frequent speeding up and down the same roads, often in an attempt to engage the interest of eligible females, is seen as a nuisance by many people.

So are these young men deserving of the vitriol which can be found in the letters pages of many a parish newspaper? Well, probably not. At their tender ages these lads have modest means, and have often scrimped and saved to fund the purchase of their outlandishly large spoilers, gravel-grazing splitters and tinted windows. A brief glance through Max Power magazine reveals the incredible extents some car owners will go to in order to soup-up their little hatchbacks. Lavishing all their affections on a vehicle may seem a little odd, but until they're old enough to have their own shed, surely these youngsters need something towards which they can direct their free time?

The flip side of this, of course, is that sometimes their actions sidestep the laws of the land. Often broaching speed limits, noise pollution limits and the limits of their neighbours' patience, the activities of these few can be a true annoyance or even a danger to others. A matter of grave significance is that most car insurance policies are invalidated by material modifications. As many men in the classic boy racer age group struggle to find an insurer willing to take them on at all, they are unlikely to have informed their insurance company of these modifications and may as a result be effectively uninsured. No laughing matter if the car in question is involved in a collision with yours.

So the jury is out. These boys take modifying a car and turn it into an art form, while providing endless amusement for onlookers who have happily outgrown that phase. For those affected by the nuisance factor, they are a scourge on our communities. Two sides of an ongoing battle which are unlikely to ever see eye to eye.