My first car was a Datsun Cherry with Wolfrace wheels. It was dodgy at the time but these days it might actually be considered kind of cool. After that I had a Volkswagen Golf that was black and silver, but after it rained a couple of times it turned out to be yellow. Somebody had just spray painted it.
At one point my mate tried to sell me a little Fiat 500 back in the day. I asked him how much he wanted for it and it was only £50. I was sold. He said: “Let’s go for a test drive, I’ll drive.”
Odd, I thought. We went round the corner and immediately hit a lamppost. He goes: “Run, we’ve got to run.”
He’d nicked this car and was trying to sell it to me. The lamppost fell on top of it and we had to leave it.
When we first started the band I had a Suzuki which we gave away in a Smash Hits competition. Then Luke and I started getting properly into cars and I had Porsche 911 Targas, a Ferrari 308 and a Lotus Esprit Turbo.
The Esprit remains one of the fastest and most exciting cars I’ve ever driven. The turbocharger sounded ridiculous – it would suck so much air in and then finally kick in with the power.
It was surreal as a youngster driving those cars. It wasn’t about the money but the experience. We couldn’t quite believe how things were engineered and how the interiors were finished. We would get properly excited that there was real wood. It was a place of privilege and you just felt very lucky. There was an excitement about every knob and button – even the sound of the indicator. I’m still obsessed with the way indicators sound now actually. It’s got to have that little bit of depth to it. You don’t want a click, you want a slight pulse I think. Or you want old school where it has a proper analogue feel. I still prefer an analogue dashboard too.
Since I’ve lived in the US I’ve had five Aston Martins – a DB7, two DB9s, a DB11 and a 1978 V8 Vantage. The latter almost killed me – the accelerator got stuck as I was heading down the Hollywood Hills to a main street. God knows how it happened but luckily it came unstuck eventually.
I think Astons are a hate-proof car. My DB11 is a V12 and that’s my daily driver at the moment. I’ve just got rid of my 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350. I think after a while you get to a point where you need to have an airbag, especially for passengers. I had a lot of fun with that car, though.
I had a Bentley Mulsanne and a Mercedes-AMG GT S too, and before that I had a Ferrari 599. I think the Ferrari experience is unlike any other car in the world. They go like sh*t off a shovel and the 599 was a beautifully designed car. The headlights were crap though.
I’m now splitting my time between the US and the UK. I think I’ll have to drive an Aston over here too. Or maybe a Bentley Continental GT. I think that’s the best-looking GT car in years. It doesn’t look as bulky or as boaty as the previous generation.
I actually had a Rolls-Royce Ghost before I got the Mulsanne and I prefer the Bentley. The Mulsanne was a beautiful car to drive. Flawless. Arguably one of the prettiest saloon cars on the planet too.
I love that feeling where you part with a car though and you know you’re getting something new. That’s so exciting. You know immediately when you get the new car if it’s right. I guess I’m a bit of a creature of habit at this point with the Astons being my go-to. That’s where I feel comfortable.
In the early days of the band we were driven a fair bit because we were doing a lot of promotion. Helicopters and jet-setting and all that, it was everything you could ever dream of. But I think driving for any person is one of the few places where you can have your own space, your own music, your own thoughts. Driving is a very powerful thing psychologically. Certainly for these times.
Check out Matt’s dream garage and the rest of this interview on the top gear website HERE