Me & My Car: meet Sir John Kirwan and his Land Rover Discovery
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
What are you driving?
A grey Land Rover Discovery HSE.
Why this model?
To be fair, I’m not gentle on cars. Also, I don’t like to step up into cars. The Discovery suits me and my lifestyle. I spend a lot of time in the car so comfort is important. I have racks on it but if I’m going out to the coast I throw my surfboards in the back and take off. I just throw stuff in the back if I’m going down to my beach house in Waihi.
I’m not a great packer.
What’s your connection with Giltrap and Land Rover?
My relationship with the Giltrap Group is around mental health in the workplace. As part of that, I am an ambassador for Land Rover. I have had the Range Rover Sport — awesome — and the Velar but that was too beautiful for me.
If you had to describe the Discovery as a person?
The Rock. It’s strong, robust, a bit vain, a bit flashy, but not too much.
We thought having lived in Italy, you might have been driving something Italian?
No, I have always been a bit of a Land Rover man. I also have a Defender, which my daughter drives. That is a really cool car. I have a wine company called jk14wines. My daughter runs that and she drives the Defender.
So, do you prefer manual or automatic?
On the days I feel like being hands-on, I drive the Defender, which is manual. But I think my lifestyle suits the automatic Discovery and I enjoy the laziness of it as well.
What differences do you notice between driving here and in Italy?
The motorways are slower here. When I was in Italy I had a Range Rover Sport and I would go to Milan three times a week and that was 300km from my home. I would go back and forwards in the day and on the motorway I would do 160km/h. In Italy, 130 to 140 is the limit but 160 is acceptable. So you would be in the middle lane doing 160 and real fast people would be overtaking you on the outside.
Your thoughts on Auckland’s traffic?
I am an Aucklander and traffic is part of our life. I don’t see it as a negative, I see it as a positive. I can ring people and do what I need to do when I am in the car. It’s like a roaming office. Other times I put my stereo on. I really enjoy cars.
What do you listen to in the Discovery?
I love music; I find it therapeutic. My tastes vary and include Gurrumul, Xavier Rudd, Ben Harper, The Blind Boys of Alabama. And classics like The band, Van Morrison, the Eagles, Janis Joplin, Neil Young. And then My wife and I like Italian artists as well.
What does your wife drive?
She’s got an Audi A4.
What do you always keep in your Discovery?
The back seats are normally down ready to go surfing but not as much as I should. Keys, openers for the gate, a recharger.
What was your first car?
An HQ Holden. I loved that car, very cool, manual on the stick, so column change and then I went to an HJ station wagon.
Who taught you to drive?
My Dad, mainly around Mangere mountain in a Morris Minor van.
If I had the money I would have a 10-car garage. I would like to own the new VW Kombi electric when it comes out. Probably a McLaren next to the Lamborghini and Ferrari. I would definitely have my Discovery and the Defender. An old-school VW Kombi as well. And the EH Holden station wagon around 1964 or ’65 in mint condition ... that’s not 10 but it’s probably enough.
Your thoughts on electric vehicles?
Three things I’m passionate about. Mental health is important for the future of health in general. The second is looking after the environment for our kids and their kids. I think the technology around electric and not using plastic, solar heating is something we need to accelerate . I think there will be a place for your petrol cars once the world is back in balance.