Me & My Ute: Perfect for the role
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What are you driving?
I drive a 2013 Toyota Hilux. It's my second Hilux. You feel safe and its big interior allows for comfortable riding for passengers as well as the driver. It's got a long bum, so the corners in the wet require finesse and accurate corner approach and execution; not too fast.
The ute makes golf gear easy. And the bike rack on the tow bar leaves plenty of room for the mountain bike and the Pinarello for the show. I don't off-road that much, but I have done a bit. And to be able to engage four- or two-wheel-drive, high or low diff, gives you a sense of being able to get through rough terrain and road closures due to flooding in any conditions.
Why a ute?
I think a ute in the Wairarapa is a good choice, not just because it's rural and allows freedom in rough shingle roads, but a normal car has limited access. Also driving in town in a ute allows you to have a much higher field of vision.
Is anyone else allowed to drive your ute?
My wife Jane and daughters Sarah and Olivia drive it. M first Hilux was “stolen” by our son Benjamin and he took it to the South Island. I was lost without it. Two of the longest weeks of my life.
Any other vehicles?
I use Jane’s scooter to sneak out for golf practice at the club, so
I can ride it right up to the range with my bucket of balls and my driver. Jane's Mazda is another story; I need to get special dispensation and permission to drive her CX 5.
Favourite car scene from a movie?
The car chase in Bullitt (starring Steve McQueen) still has to be one of the best car chases. No multiple car stunts as such, or CGI or multiple pile-ups, just great driving inside and out.
What do you always carry in your ute?
Surgical gloves and an orange hazard vest. You never know when you may come across an accident or you need to assist in some way. And the CD player. I often catch people staring at me as I yell the lyrics out.
How often do you clean your Hilux?
Maybe once every four to six weeks. If it's a little dirty, they look used and proud. It's almost like a protective layer; and it's cruising the country, after all.
Who taught you to drive?
My darling mum, she was a lot more patient than my dad. And then the AA at school in the secondary driver training school.
I think it was a great way to learn to drive. I was 15 when I got my licence.
Advice to young drivers?
Only learn from patient people and not necessarily family: you learn bad habits. Drive to your level of competence and don't be harangued by any peer pressure. Also, it's great to have experience in a manual.
Your most memorable road trip in this ute?
The drive with some friends from England to Cape Palliser, past Ngawi. The day was magic. You could see the South Island from the top of the steps of the lighthouse. Afterwards we had fish and chips at Lake Ferry Hotel. And when we went, a storm had washed away a bit of the road so we had to drive through water — your real man in a ute. Impressed the tourists!
How do you rate commuter traffic in Wellington?
Wellington in the morning in peak hour on State Highway 2 can be pandemonium. Four lanes to two lanes and four separate roads converging into one small two-lane, duck under a flyover, by Petone is filled with dread and patience is pushed to the max. The latest fantastic boost to Wellington is Haywards Hill interchange by Manor Park, a flyover is now operational. Sensational and works a treat. Hoorah. Now they need to do the Lower Hutt one.
If you could go on a road trip anywhere, with any actor?
A road trip with Jed Brophy and Adam Brown. In the Hilux,
of course, and specifically the South Island’s West Coast.
The three brothers from the Hobbit trilogy doing a road trip. It would be insane and magic. Graham McTavish could join us only for a short time ’cause he's too bossy and would want to drive the ute all the time. Oh what stories and adventures we would have.
■ Mark Hadlow’s show Middle Aged Man in Lycra is at the Bruce Mason Centre, June 9-10.