Me & My Car: Paler shade of white
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Josh Thomson's new weekday 7pm news show The Project launches on Feb 20 on TV3
What are you driving?
A 1992 190E Mercedes. The Germans would call the colour Artikweiss (Artic White) with Sato Grau (Sato Grey) cladding. Unfortunately I made some repairs and colour-matched the paint to the petrol flap, which appears to be a different white to the rest of the car. It's now a bunch of different whites working together poorly. A bit like Trump's cabinet. The 1.8 is the lowest-specced version possible of the 190E "Baby Benz". No extras, it's lucky to have a steering wheel. When I've ordered parts, dealers have argued that a 1.8 does not exist. I became obsessed with putting all the extras from other 190Es into it from Pick-A-Part - electric aerial, dual interior lights, sunshades with sliding vanity mirrors and lights.
Where did you get it from?
I got The Beast from my brother in 2010. He's a plastic surgeon, and another surgeon gave it to him when he moved to Auckland. I don't know if this is normal conduct between surgeons, but I was getting a free Mercedes so I wasn't going to ask any questions.
Auto or manual?
A RHD automatic with a healthy clunk shifting from 1st to 2nd. It feels like someone kicking the engine with a metal boot.
What do you like about it?
It looks like a diplomat's car. I love the shape. If you ask a 3-year-old to draw a car, it will look like what I've got.
Who else is allowed to drive it?
Not many people want to. There was a period when it would turn itself off when taking corners so the offers dried up. I've fixed it now. I think.
How often do you clean it?
I usually give the inside a vacuum when I can't see the carpet.
What do you always have in your car?
Tow rope, jumper cables, Kiwi cricket bat and ball, hand sanitiser for the drive-through. I'm paranoid about eftpos keypads.
Would you sell it?
I'm getting close to selling it. I have a long commute and the air conditioning does not work like it used to. Well it's never worked. It would cost more than the car's worth to fix it. The leather seats combined with the lack of air conditioning mean that sometimes I turn up to work with a moist lower back. Yuk.
Who taught you to drive?
Mum, Dad and my brothers taught me to drive from when I was about 12 years old. I could drive a tractor and motorbike first and then eventually a car. Practising on the farm was great. You can do spectacular handbrake turns when your parents aren't around.
Any tips for young drivers?
Scan the road ahead. Follow the two-second rule. Don't get the world's cheapest bluetooth stereo off Trade Me and expect it to work flawlessly with your phone.
My first car was an Austin Maxi 1750. I painted it badly like a Union Jack to impress a girl I took to my sixth form ball. It didn't work.
Favourite movie car scene?
Gene Hackman chasing the train in The French Connection. It's terrifying. That and anything from Mad Max 2.
I love the modernity of the Tesla and the chunkiness of the Mercedes G-Wagen. I'd love them so much I probably wouldn't eat in them for at least a week.
Preferred sounds when driving?
If I feel like a laugh I'll throw on the How Did This Get Made podcast or if I'm settling in for a while, a good audiobook. If I want to boogie, I'll cue up some Parliament/Funkadelic. If I think the Merc is feeling patriotic, I'll bust out some Kraftwerk or Mozart.
What irritates you most about other drivers?
People showing off how well their air conditioning is working -- driving around in summer with their windows up. Arrogant.
Josh also features as Gary in Gary in the Pacific at cinemas from March 16.