A sapphire black 1991 BMW 850i, automatic, 5L V12. I used to get a lift to school when I was 13 or 14 with a family friend who owned a brand new E30. It was so comfortable and the “thud” when you closed the doors has stayed with me. I always wanted to have a car that made a thud like that, so I started buying old BMWs.
The 8 series came out when I was 16 and I’d never seen anything like it. They were expensive, packed full of high-tech gadgets and I never thought I’d own anything like that. Although the technology is dated, the styling is still beautiful and a lot of people can’t believe it’s a 25-year-old car.
Have you made any modifications?
I’ve done a lot of work on it — too much to list here. The main things are a suspension overhaul (I had a lot of help from Craig and his team at Fredco Motors) down to subframe bushings and diff mounts and fitted a 3.64 LSD, which has really livened things up in the absence of a manual gearbox. I also swapped out the ugly square exhaust tips and fitted some decent back boxes and a cross pipe, which has given it a far nicer sound.
What do you always have in your car?
A pair of driving gloves. My family think they’re horribly embarrassing.
Special number plate?
Yes, aren’t they mandatory on BMWs? Mine is V12 85O.
A white Mark II Cortina.
This sounds corny but I’d start by restoring my 850i — engine, paint, interior ... and everything else. Oh, and Boosted Logic make a bulletproof stage III supercharger good for around 550bhp. I’ve also got a soft spot for another ludicrous 90s supercar — the Jaguar XJ220. My wife, Helene, much prefers American muscle to Euro cars though, so ... a 68 Camaro SS for her.
Favourite car colour?
My favourite stock 8 series colour is Estoril Blue — a mid-light metallic blue — but if money was no object, I’d restore mine to its original Brilliant Red.
Who taught you to drive?
My mum was way too nervous as a passenger so gave up on me after one or two lessons. After that, I had professional lessons. I got my licence first time. Unfortunately, I was woefully underprepared for real-world driving and I had a serious accident a few months later. I’ve been a far more considerate driver since.
Most memorable road trip?
My son, Wolf, and I flew down to Palmerston North this time last year to pick up a cheap 1986 E30 320i. It was a manual and we had a great adventure driving back to Auckland.
What do you listen to in your car?
Every new knock, creak or clunk, and I worry about the financial and emotional cost of each one. When I bought the car it had an ugly aftermarket stereo, which I replaced with an OE head unit. I haven’t got around to wiring it up. The exhaust note sounds pretty good, anyway.
Great day trip out of Auckland?
I love heading out east to Maraetai for the roads but it’s hard to beat a trip up to Puhoi for lunch on a summer’s day with the (pillarless coupe) windows down.
What irritates you most about other drivers?
That very few people seem to understand the “keep left unless overtaking rule” on dual carriageways, and simple etiquette. Why do Kiwis suddenly lose all respect for one another when they get behind the wheel?
Would you rather drive in Auckland or take public transport?
I would much rather use public transport in the city, but current services mean that sometimes using a car for work is unavoidable. The fleet that Mazda provides to the zoo is awesome; economical and they never break down, unlike my old Bimmer, which gets used at the weekends.
Auckland’s congestion issues?
I grew up in the UK so Auckland doesn’t feel particularly congested. Ours is a very suburban city. A decent electric rail network would benefit traffic flow and the environment. (Almost as much as me not driving the V12 daily!)
And if you could go anywhere, with anyone in any car?
That’s a tough one. Maybe Donald Trump ... I’d take him far, far, far away. Perhaps it’s better if I don’t say where.