Life in cars

Fast on two wheels, faster on four, the bi­cy­cle cham­pion talks his mo­tor­ing past

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS -

“It all started with a Citroen Xan­tia. I in­her­ited it from my dad so I could drive up and down from univer­sity in Ed­in­burgh to the Manch­ester Velo­drome. I didn’t ac­tu­ally learn to drive un­til I was 21; up to that point I cy­cled ev­ery­where – I just didn’t need a car. That car had about 100,000 miles on it when I got it, and 180,000 when it fnally died.

“The frst car I bought with my own money was a BMW 318i saloon. At the time it was my dream car – I cleaned it ev­ery cou­ple of days. My dad had a BMW 2002 when I was young, so the 318 was a big deal.

“Af­ter that it was a Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI, the diesel one, the VW Golf GTI TDI PD, I think it was called. It had 150bhp, which back in 2003 was a lot. I fol­lowed that up with an Audi A4… I was start­ing to get a bit grown-up with my cars then. I just re­ally liked the look of the S line at that time. I should have got an es­tate to ft my bike in, but I went for the saloon.

“In 2008 I bought an E46 M3 – a secondhand one with 8,000 on the clock. It was car­bon black, red in­te­rior, im­mac­u­late. That was my frst proper per­for­mance car and I wish I’d never sold it.

“About that time I did a few track days at the Bed­ford Au­to­drome and loved it. Jonathan Palmer told me to get a small car that’s light and doesn’t waste the tyres and brakes. He rec­om­mended a Cater­ham, so I bought an R400 and started go­ing to my lo­cal track – Oul­ton Park. A while af­ter that I swapped it for some­thing quicker – a Lo­tus 2-Eleven. I had a bit of an of at a track day, though, and that was the end of that. I had it fully re­paired, but sold it and re­placed it with an­other Cater­ham, the 420R.

“Around the time I bought the frst Cater­ham, my road car changed from the M3 to an XKR. I was do­ing a bit of stuf with Jaguar at the time, so I didn’t own the car, but it was my daily driver for about four years. And then came the Nis­san GT-R – I had that for three years. Then six months ago I got an RS6 es­tate and ft­ted a Mill­tek ex­haust. In terms of an ev­ery­day car, it does ev­ery­thing. It can paint a smile on your face when you put your foot down – the noise of it is amaz­ing, but also it’s nice and quiet when you put it in stan­dard soft com­fort mode. Oh, and my wife told me to men­tion she’s got a VW Golf R. Man­ual gear­box, of course.”

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