Me and My Car: John Stirling of Turner Hopkins
Top of the range Grange
John Stirling is a partner at Turner Hopkins Law Firm, Takapuna.
You drive a white automatic 2011 Commodore HSV Grange?
I bought it second-hand last year. I have always liked V8s and particularly like Commodores. I have had five including a V6 Acclaim, SS and a GTO two-door coupe. I had a Subaru between the GTO and the Grange and never took to it. I like the sound the V8 makes and this particular car is like a wolf in sheep's clothing. It is understated; there is a fair bit of grunt in the engine. And my children like it. It is big, roomy and comfortable. I like something a bit different. It is the top end of the HSV range.
Who else drives your car?
No one else drives it, mainly because my wife doesn't want to drive it, she thinks it's too big. And my son has a restricted licence so he's not ready to drive something like this.
Your dream car?
Right from when I was a teenager, it was a Porsche 911. I have always liked the Porsche and its shape. It's not practical at the moment; I had the GTO coupe but I had to trade that because it wasn't working for a family of four.
Who taught you to drive?
My grandmother. I'm from Southland and I was a Monday to Friday boarder at Gore High School and spent weekends with my grandmother; my parents were living in Hong Kong. My grandmother had a Hillman Imp she used to let me drive. A lot of practising was in the Edendale cemetery. She would tend the graves and I would drive around. The other place I learned to drive was on a farm on a Saturday in Edendale where I drove the tractors and trucks.
Are you teaching your children to drive?
I take my son for drives but he also has lessons. I am probably not patient enough.
Manual or automatic?
I prefer manual, I like to drive cars. The GTO was manual but it gets tough in Auckland with the traffic. I ended up getting a sore foot from the heavy clutch. Automatic is better in Auckland.
Do you prefer to be driver or passenger?
Definitely prefer to be the driver, not a good passenger.
How often do you clean your car?
About once a month but I live close to work so I don't drive it every day and it is garaged. Now and then I get it professionally valeted.
Most memorable road trip?
We did one about five years ago as a family. We travelled though Taupo, Rotorua, Napier Gisborne, over 10 days. And the other was recently with this car; we drove our son to Wellington to study at university. We stopped at Taupo both ways. I love the Desert Road, it was a chance to really see what the car could do and it was loaded down, the boat was full and it handled beautifully.
If you could go anywhere, with anyone, in any car?
I'm a keen golfer and I would like to go somewhere like the Californian coast with Phil Mickelson. We are both left-handed and the car would probably be the latest Mustang; not very practical but I am sure we could find a way to fit the clubs in.
Favourite movie car scene?
The Italian Job, the new one with the Mini Coopers.
And you watch Top Gear? Who do you most identify with -- Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond or James May?
I am a huge fan, I have the DVDs and I went to the live shows. Unfortunately the one I identify most with is Jeremy Clarkson. He likes the cars that I like, the same big V8 supercars.
Auckland City's traffic. What's your take?
I live in Takapuna so I have to deal with Lake Rd and it's a nightmare. So maybe a second harbour crossing would help.