Me and My Car: Paula Wallace and her Nissan Figaro
Paula Wallace is head of design at Wallace Cotton and drives an attention-seeking car
What do you drive?
A 1991 little flowery Nissan Figaro which gets a lot of attention including camera-clicking drivers on the motorway, posses of selfie-snapping teens and she seems to be a granddad magnet at the dairy, even though she has only three speeds and no sport button.
Apparently there is a turbo, but I have yet to see any effects from using it. I'm pretty sure my Singer sewing machine goes faster. She was lapis grey before we turned her into a bouquet on wheels.
I was looking for a convertible to wrap with one of our textile designs, and had been thinking of a new Beetle - then I drove past Petal in a Belmont car yard one Sunday and fell in love! The car dealer was surprised when I offered to put a deposit on her without test driving, but I could see that she would be gone if I left to think it over.
As it was, there were three unamused ladies at the yard on Monday trying to buy her.
She was just the right size and colour, with white roof and grey body, to suit having the body wrapped.
I was also thinking about my teenage daughters learning to drive in it.
How important is the design of a car to you?
I love good design that makes your heart beat a little bit faster. Driving Petal, I am close to the road, so I notice how ugly most modern cars are, especially the back of them which I see often as I get overtaken a lot. Being in a car that is speed-restricted is relaxing as overtaking or being impatient aren't options.
Tell us about the paintwork?
We used one of my favourite textile prints, vintage rose, to wrap the car, which was done by Total Sign Solutions. The guys did a great job of carefully wrapping her without damaging the rubber seals around all the chrome work, and pattern-matching the flowers. Her name Petal came from a Facebook competition where followers suggested their favourite name; the response was huge and entertaining.
What was your first car?
A 6-volt 1965 VW Beetle. I loved Doris until she died on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Your dream car ...
Toss up between a Piaggio auto-rickshaw and the new Jaguar F-type convertible. Mind you, I am happy with Petal.
Favourite car colour?
Everyone should drive a flowery car, you get smiles all day.
Who taught you to drive?
Dad, in his V8 golden Holden Kingswood with no power steering, so it was a short lesson ending on a footpath with a monosyllabic father.
Manual or automatic?
In town, I fail to see the point in driving a manual car, as most of the time we are in thick traffic. My daughter is having driving lessons in Petal, a perfect small car for learning in, except she gets honked at because of the flowers. We thought it better for her to learn to be comfortable on the road in an automatic, before tackling gears.
Most memorable road trip?
Two weeks ago, in a taxi going to Shanghai airport averaging 150km/h with the driver tapping his foot on the accelerator the entire way, yuck.
How often do you clean your car?
That's what we have teenagers for!
What's a great day trip out of Auckland?
Anywhere on the back roads as Petal gets tired on the motorway.
What irritates you most about other drivers?
Tail-gaters on the motorway, all they need to do is go around us ...
Who else is allowed to drive your car?
Bill (husband) and Rose, which only happens when he has to take her for driving practice.
If you could go anywhere with anyone in any car ...
A dream drive would probably be in the F-type Jag with Bill going through Central Otago. As long as I got to drive of course ...