Me and My Car: A point of difference
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MEREDITH CONNELL LAW FIRM PARTNER LEO FARMER DRIVES A VOLVO V40
So you drive a Volvo V40?
It’s a 2015 with the 8 speed auto — I prefer manual but the Volvo has a great responsive gearbox. I actually went out to buy a Golf GTI, but a friend with petrol in his veins encouraged me to take a look at the V40. I wasn’t sure about a Volvo until I drove it — I wasn’t expecting it to have such character. Or to have such an amazing stereo. But the clincher was it was just a bit different. I like that when you tell people you drive a Volvo the usual response is some sort of joke about labradors, the school-run, or lugging around a wardrobe in the boot. But then you show them the car and there’s a bit of a raised eyebrow when you point out it’s a Volvo hatchback with nearly 260bhp. And they see it’s a violent shade of blue.
Who else is allowed to drive it?
Um, no one else I’m afraid. I’m a bit protective of it.
Who cleans it, and how often?
I try to clean it once a fortnight.
Fiat Bravo — it was also blue, although not as bright as the Volvo. It was a fantastic car, and started a love of Italian cars. Before the Volvo, it was probably the most reliable car I’ve owned.
A Singer Porsche, but then I’ve also always wanted a late 90s Fiat Coupe.
Who taught you to drive?
A relative in a Series 1 Land Rover in a paddock in Hawkes Bay, at age 13. It was a great way to learn the fundamentals of clutch control without the responsibilities of being on the road, and there was no synchromesh on the gearbox so I was taught a bit of mechanical sympathy. On the road: the AA.
Most memorable road trip?
A long time ago I spent a couple of weeks driving from Auckland to Wanaka and back, via the West Coast. There are some great roads in the South Island, but what made it so memorable was seeing how extraordinarily beautiful New Zealand is — I think we forget that. Oh, and the sandflies on the West Coast. It took an hour of driving with all the windows down (in the middle of winter) to get rid of those.
Dream road trip overseas?
It would be hilarious to roam the streets of LA with James Corden in his Range Rover Sport for a bit of Carpool Karaoke.
What do you listen to when you drive?
I let Apple Music over Bluetooth make the suggestions — The Killers one moment, Katy Perry the next, and then you might get a surprise with some Dire Straits.
Favourite car movie or TV scene?
Love the Beast is a fantastic movie — about Eric Bana and his Ford GT Falcon. The Italian Job (the original version) and Ronin have to be on the list, too.
Great day trip out of Auckland? The drive up the Kaipara to Wellsford’s great if you just need to get out of the city for a few hours — great road, beautiful scenery and not too much traffic. And if you keep driving up to Kaiwaka there’s a great bakery for the turn-around point.
Do you judge people by what they drive?
No, but it’s good to see a car that’s been looked after.
Do you have a favourite racing driver?
I’ve been lucky enough to go around Taupo racetrack as a passenger in a Porsche 911 with Robbie Francevic at the wheel — from being a truly terrifying experience, his control of what is an inherently quite difficult car to drive was extraordinary. And he used to race Volvos in the Australian Touring Car Championship.
What irritates you most about other drivers?
Driving at night with your lights off. Just as dangerous for other road users who can’t see you.
And Auckland’s traffic? What do you think of it and how would you change it?
Obviously it’s bad. There are better solutions than more buses (like the proposed tram network, including the line to the airport down Dominion Rd). But the biggest thing Auckland could do to alleviate congestion in the short term is to better use the capacity we have by encouraging driver education — keeping left, merging like a zip, not blocking intersections, would all make a significant difference to traffic flows.