Me & My Car: Personality plus
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What are you driving?
It’s a 1990 Saab 900 Turbo convertible, battleship grey with black leather upholstery. I bought it second-hand about 15 years ago from a Wellington dealer. The only change made to the car was a new soft-top last year.
What do you like about it?
It seems to have been reliable. I could say it suits my personality because in John Gardner’s book Licence Renewed on James Bond it was 007’s car of choice and features on the cover, although I’m not in that line of business.
Who else is allowed to drive your car?
The car has been passed through my children, daughter Alice who’s 28 had it for some time and seemed to enjoy it. Son Hugh, almost 21, was the latest to claim possession and loves it more than any other car he knows. Running it became a little expensive for him so I got it back with a promise that when I part with it, it’ll go to him.
Do you have any other vehicles?
I also own an S Type Jaguar. It is my Wellington shopping basket, given how much it’s used.
What sparked your interest in cars?
Like most boys I grew up with in Gore, I liked cars. The first I owned was a Morris Minor, which I bought off my late older brother at $5 a week. The first car I drove was my father’s Wolseley 6/80, a common Met Police car, which lost a rear mudguard when I was showing off, doing a wheelie out of the centre park in Gore’s main street. I was made to replace it with a lot of hard work.
Wouldn’t mind a new XF Jaguar.
Who taught you to drive?
No one taught me; I sat in the back of my father’s car and watched what he did. On my 15th birthday it was down to the police station in his car, to sit and get my licence. I was so excited by my success that I broke the speed limit on the way home, but fortunately speed cameras hadn’t been thought of way back then.
Favourite film car scene?
When Jack Nicholson was behind the wheel of a Saab 900 Turbo in As Good As It Gets. He was a writer with a personality disorder, perhaps that’s why I’m attracted to the vehicle.
Favourite day drive out of Auckland?
To (my wife) Heather’s mother’s home in Pukekohe, or with her surfboard sticking up out of the back seat on our way to Muriwai.
Memorable road trip in this car?
Driving it from a storage place in Lower Hutt, where it’d been neglected but had nevertheless been given a warrant, the battery was flat and it took every effort to keep the motor running at the lights on the way. It konked out just as I was driving it into the city to my mechanic. It had to be towed the rest of the way — thanks to a TV3 cameraman who happened to come along in my moment of stress.
Do you embrace new tech or enjoy old school?
Despite the fact I drive an old Saab, I love the new technology that has become a feature of what really are mobile computers. I have driven for the best part of a week an electric car and got a buzz from the acceleration and of course the economy of the trip. I think I’d pull the pin at a driverless car, although after a night out it wouldn’t be a bad option.
Other road users?
Having driven in Wellington most of my adult life and for the past year and a bit in Auckland, I find Wellingtonians are far more respectful drivers, less aggressive and much more defensive — sorry to all my Jafa mates.
Your take on Auckland’s traffic?
Besides taking all the Auckland drivers off the road (just joking), I would make the traffic lights more load-sensitive.