Me & My Car: Step up from a banger
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You drive a 1999 BMW 523I?
It’s a black auto and, as the model suggests, 2.3 litres. (Although someone did once tell me that after being re-bored, they’re normally 2.5 litres.) I bought this car second-hand five years from a guy I met while filming a news story for TV3.
It was a question of right time, right place and right price. My previous car, a 1989 Renault 5, had basically fallen apart so I desperately needed to find a replacement.
How does it suit your personality?
Most of my previous cars have been charming old bombs. So this car is a bit of a departure from normal but probably more appropriate for my changing personal and work circumstances.
It’s definitely way too “cool” for me but it is nice to be able to rock up to work interviews without feeling too self-conscious about arriving in an old banger.
Is it a good fit for a tall person?
I’m 190cm (6’2”) with ridiculously long arms yet this car feels like it was built for me. Everything is just where it should be for my arms and legs; I get perfect vision through the windscreen and to the dashboard and my head doesn’t scrape the ceiling (which I hate.).
Who else drives your car?
I’m not too precious about other people driving it but, for some reason, my wife and friends seem to prefer letting me drive — which suits me fine.
When did your interest in cars start?
I’m a Lower Hutt bogan who grew up in the 80s, so cars have always been a big part of my life.
But it was probably my farming cousins who piqued my interest in cars, through their incredibly mechanical wizardry (they converted an old truck into a paddock racer) and by the fact that they let me drive whatever I wanted, whenever I liked around their South Canterbury farm.
Because of the great experience I’ve had with my current car, I’ve definitely become a big BMW fan.
I’m also fascinated by EVs and hybrids. I drove a Tesla Model S for a story and was blown away by that. If I join those two interests together, my dream car would be a BMW i8.
What do you always have in your car and why?
A tow-rope and jumper leads. It’s a habit left over from when I regularly needed them for my own car breakdowns. Now it’s nice to be able to help others (which happens surprisingly regularly).
Who taught you to drive?
I learnt to drive on my cousins’ farms when I was 10 and, for some reason, my father always encouraged us to drive as much as possible even before we had our licences. (“If anything happens to your mother or I, at least you can drive us to the hospital.”)
I remember one trip where he let me drive from Balclutha to Dunedin when I was 14 — I don’t think I’ve ever sweated as much as on that trip. Needless to say I passed my licence on the first go a month after I turned 15.
Favourite day drive out of Auckland?
Tawharanui. It’s such a beautiful beach and a great drive getting there.
Most memorable road trip?
It was a summer holiday trip two years ago where my family of four, plus my 18-year-old niece from London, plus our dog and all our luggage somehow made it all the way to the West Coast of the South Island, through Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch and back to Auckland without a hitch.
If you could go on a road trip anywhere with any person in the news?
How about a drive through all 50 American states with Barack Obama in a Tesla Model X?
Would you rather drive or be a passenger?
I always prefer driving — although I might make an exception if I was on a road trip with Obama.
Would you rather drive in Auckland, take public transport, walk or ride?
I love walking, running and cycling around Auckland and do one of these every day. But when it comes to my work commute, I’m a driver.
The need to listen to the radio, to be up with the day’s news, and to arrive fresh and on-to-it ... trump my natural desire to be more environmentally friendly.
And your take on Auckland’s traffic?
The solution is more one of town planning than traffic management. We need more decentralised business and entertainment centres on regional and national levels.