Chris Packham talks cars

Wildlife expert, photographer and author Chris Packham presents The Nature of Britain: A Users Guide throughout the day on Blighty (Sky 534, Virgin 206) on November 15 and 16, He also co-hosts Autumnwatch 2010 on BBC Two.

What do you drive?          

I have a Volvo at the moment. I think it’s an XC60.

What was your first car?

I had a Renault 16 TL, canary yellow. I got that in ’82 or ’83.

What was your best/worst car?

I like the XC60. It has a series of packages that are designed to improve the fuel efficiency and it really works.
I’m always a bit sceptical about these things but it hates garages, which is perfect. It doesn’t want to go into filling stations and it really does make a difference. When you put the gear into neutral it stops the engine, so if you’re in a traffic queue it improves fuel consumption by 40 percent, so not only is it good for the environment it’s good for your wallet.

I got into cars for a long time. In fact I had 13 lock up garages and I restored classic cars.

I had an Austin Maxi, which I bought because I thought the sears could fold down and I could sleep in it, but it was an extremely underpowered car and it took me ages to crawl around the UK, so I hated that car.

What is your dream car?

I’d love to have the first electric Aston Martin.

Do you consider yourself to be a good driver?

I’m an assertive driver; I drive for a purpose. I want to get between A and B and that means doing it safely but it also means doing it efficiently. I also spend a lot of time driving at night. I’d rather drive at night than in the daytime to avoid traffic queues.

So yeah, pretty good I suppose.

What do you always keep in your glovebox?

I travel to and from France so I now have to have one of those high vis jackets in the glovebox, because if you get stopped in France without one they fine you on the roadside. Other than that I’ve got water for my dogs and a couple of bowls for them.

What drives you mad behind the wheel?

People driving too close to each other at lunatic high speeds. I can’t bear it if people drive up my backside and if I’m a passenger in another car and someone’s driving too close I always point that out.

I’m quite conscious of stopping distances, and people hogging the middle lane when there’s no need to.

What’s the best music to drive to?

I quite like Techno while I’m driving.

Have you ever had a crash?

I haven’t had any outrageous accidents. When I was a kid I had crashes, bumping into things. I haven’t had a crash now for 20 years.

Who would be your perfect passenger?

I’d really love to be driven by a rally driver. That would be a treat. Other than that, Stirling Moss I suppose.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in a car?

For years we used to practice car surfing. You’re on the bonnet barefoot. The skill is more with the driver because the driver obviously can’t touch his brakes or you’re straight over the back, so cornering and slowing down. Basically you need to be at one with your driver and entirely trust them not to touch the brakes.

I’ve car surfed the Pan American highway and through Soweto, and in Scotland.

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