Me and My Car: Winemaker Simon Fell and his Fiat 500
Simon Fell is a winemaker for Thornbury and drives a car that fits in with his company's sustainability model.
You drive a Fiat?
It is a Fiat 500, lounge series 2012. Fiat, like the Mini, reinvented the iconic Bambina model from the 1960s and re-introduced it into the market a few years ago.
I pitched the idea to Sir George Fistonich, who owns Thornbury wines, that we should have a small quirky car to showcase the brand around the city. He loved the idea and initially wanted to roll out a fleet of them.
It's a great little car, really. It's very economical which fits well with our sustainability model and is handy for fitting into tight parking spots around Auckland city.
I use it mostly for getting to and from work and visiting clients with our sales reps around the city.
It's probably not the best family wagon, but it has a ton of room in the boot for holding my man bag and a case of wine.
What's it like driving a smaller car?
Well I am 1.905metres tall and can easily fold myself into the front seat. The 500 is like Doctor Who's Tardis. It has more internal space than you think. Being the lounge model it has a moon roof so I have at least 2cm of head room. The other advantage is, being an Italian design, it oozes style and is fun to drive.
And the artwork?
We wrapped the car with Thornbury's imagery. It has Dionysus the Greek god of wine celebrating wine and trumpeting the mantra of live life to the full around each side of the car.
Who else is allowed to drive this car?
Any of my work colleagues who are not too embarrassed to drive it.
What do you always have in your car?
A city road map as I have a terrible sense of direction.
First car you owned?
It was a VW Golf when I attended university in the late 1980s. I am a North Shore boy, you know. It turned out to be an expensive mode of transport. My father did warn me, however I did not listen, as most youth do at that age. I just wanted to look cool. Within six months I needed to overhaul the entire engine. It cost me a small fortune.
Your dream car?
A Fiat Abarth, it is a Fiat 500 on steroids.
Do you prefer to be driver or passenger?
I prefer to be a passenger. I am known by my wife and good friends to be a bit of a "nana" driver.
Favourite car colour?
Green - it's my mantra.
Who taught you to drive?
My father enrolled me into driving school at aged 17 as he was heading off to Europe for six months. He wanted to make sure I had my licence before I drove his car.
Manual or automatic?
Manual. You feel like you are in control and it also makes you more aware of the nuances of every engine sound as you shift through the gears.
Most memorable road trip?
It was an unpleasant one. We did a road trip from San Francisco to LA just after 9/11. No one was flying at the time and my girlfriend (now wife) and I were visiting her parents for thanksgiving in Los Angeles. What is usually a five- to six-hour trip turned into a 12-hour traffic jam. I learned the virtues of patience and also the prerequisite to marriage. The wife is always right.
Would you rather drive in Auckland or take public transport?
If I am not driving my Fiat, I am riding my bicycle. However, any modern civilised society needs public transport.