He’s renowned as the guy who painstakingly builds and restores kit and classic cars before the cameras, but which motor does A Car Is Born presenter Mark Evans favour for his daily drive?
I learned to drive in on an old Massey 135 tractor. They’re very special. The smell of an old 135 gearbox when you’re harvesting is like nectar. The next time you find a proper old working tractor, one that’s not been restored, just go and sniff its gearbox! I close my eyes, inhale the heady aromatic mix of barley dust from harvesting, leaked hydraulic fluid and spilled red diesel and, instantly I’m taken back to my childhood. It’s gorgeous. Someone should bottle it.
Then, as today, I was also obsessed with Land Rovers and was saving money so that, when I was 17, I could buy a car – and the only car I was going to buy was a Landie. One did come up for sale in the village, an old series one that had been taken to Africa, but I didn’t have enough money so my savings ended up being spent on an impulse buy – Triumph Herald 1360. I loved the shape. And it was a convertible. Very cool. At least I thought it was. But it wasn’t a Landie as I proved several times when trying to off-road it. It took me until I was 40 to finally own my first Land Rover – the one we built for the TV series A 4×4 is Born.
As you can imagine, I’ve had a whole range of cars over the years, including a mid-life crisis Porsche 996, which I hardly ever drove and felt constantly guilty about owning. I only told my wife, over dinner, the night before picking it up that I had traded in the family Volvo to buy it. Didn’t go down well. I lost a huge amount of money on that car. When I sold it, my wife said I couldn’t buy another new car for two years. So, I bought a knackered 2-door Range Rover and then adopted a friend’s old Peugeot 306 that was destined for the scrap heap. Loved them both. The Peugeot cost me lass than £200 in parts to fix and I ended up doing 20,000 miles in it. Bargain.
So, now, what’s my everyday drive? An eight-year-old VW Golf 6 tdi. It’s a very, very good car which I abuse. I never look after it, I never wash it, I never check whether it’s got any oil or water in it. I’m sure a light will come on if it’s thirsty. I don’t give a hoot about it and that’s refreshing. It gets me from A to B and it does that extremely well. I would definitely buy another one. But it’s not a love affair. And it never will be. Because, unlike the classic cars I have known, it doesn’t have a personality. It doesn’t have a soul. And for me, that’s really important.