Growing up with an older brother who had numerous Mark II Ford Escorts got me on the road to being a ‘petrol head’. They included the 1600 Sport, Mexico and RS2000 versions. We laugh now as they cost him £2000 to £3000 but a good RS2000 now fetches over £35,000. He used to take me to Aycliffe stock car stadium on a Sunday afternoon with the ‘demolition derby’ at the end being the highlight. Later on, my brother owned a series of XR3s, which I coveted. My sister also started going out with a similarly minded car enthusiast who had a Capri 1.6S. He was also into karting so I used to help him with his race preparations and accompany him to various tracks as his one-man crew.
My main career objective was to be something that got you a company car. A graduate position at Storey Sons and Parker achieved that with a Ford Fiesta 1.6S (not quite an XR2 but I was still chuffed about it). During my time at Storeys, Bill Lynn who was in charge of cars was kind to me and let me have a few edgy hot hatches. These included a 2 litre Vauxhall Astra but probably the quickest was a V6 Vauxhall Cavalier, which got me into hot water. On my way to Roker Park one Saturday I was stopped by the police in East Boldon. To make matters worse the same officer caught me again the following week in Low Fell. Six points later…
One motoring mistake was getting an Audi TT a few weeks before my wife found out she was pregnant. It’s not a great family car and it wasn’t the easiest to extract her from in labour at the maternity wing of the RVI. I learned my lesson and got what I still think has been my best car – a BMW X5.
Of late, I have had a succession of Golf GTDs and GTis – not needing the space and having grown up a little bit.
I still hope to get a Subaru Impreza at some point. Something similar to the late Colin McRae’s blue one with gold alloys would be ideal.
One of my favourite drives ever was a holiday in the USA. I hired a car in LA and drove up to San Francisco on 101, across to Yosemite, down through Death Valley to Las Vegas, back along to Palm Springs, San Diego and back to LA. I remember the amazing mix of landscapes.
The most scenic and breath-taking drive, though, was Chapman’s Peak Drive just outside of Cape Town. This is a road carved out of the side of a cliff face and is the route back to Cape Town from the Cape of Good Hope. The views were spectacular.