Jonny Wilkinson, 40, the former Newcastle, England and British Lions player, famously kicked the last-minute drop goal against Australia that helped England win the Rugby World Cup in 2003.
The fly-half won 91 international caps and still holds the record as England’s all-time points scorer. He will be part of the ITV commentary team at this month’s World Cup in Japan.
What was your first car?
I passed my test first time and shared a Mini Metro with my older brother, Mark, who also played rugby for Newcastle. It wasn’t a large car and had already been well-used by him at college. It was pretty tired and probably on its last legs.
How old were you when you first became interested in cars?
I only became interested when I actually needed a car. My childhood was dominated by sporting heroes but when I moved to Newcastle as a teenager, a car became a crucial tool to drive to training. I spent a fortune on taxis before I learnt to drive. I would walk five miles carrying my weekly food shop home from the supermarket. It was a personal challenge and I did it in all weathers.
What car or incident inspired your passion for cars?
I think learning to drive with my mum and dad in Hampshire. Mum found it hysterically funny how bad I was – dad found it hysterically frustrating. I had two years of learning but I got there in the end. Owning a car changed my life because I was obsessive about rugby in Newcastle – suddenly I could drive myself to the training ground.
What was your first crash (if you’ve ever had one)?
I reversed the Metro into a concrete post outside my house. I must have hit it pretty hard because the car didn’t last much longer after that.
Which car(s) do you currently own?
I’m currently in a Range Rover but just about to take delivery of a new Range Rover Sport Hybrid.
Which car do you most regret selling, and why?
One of my first cars was a Mercedes SLK, with a folding roof. The Merc was great fun but in Newcastle there wasn’t an awful lot of sunshine to enjoy it. Dad also had a beach buggy which I thought was really cool. Unfortunately, the Hampshire coast isn’t quite California.
What’s your biggest pet peeve when driving?
I’m a very calm driver – there’s not much that bugs me behind the wheel these days. I’m a strong believer in maintaining a positive mental outlook, so anybody that annoys me is probably a pointer on where I need to work on myself.
What is your dream car, money no object?
Twenty years ago I would have said a Lamborghini Countach with a huge spoiler. Now I’m passionate about sustainability and the environment, so I’d like to try a Tesla. Things are changing very quickly and I love the idea of an all-electric car because that’s definitely the future.
What’s your most memorable experience in a car?
When I was a kid, dad drove a whole posse of us boys to and from rugby training in a Mitsubishi Shogun. The car was packed with muddy lads, kit and all manner of paraphernalia. That’s a very strong, happy memory for me, even after all these years.
And what about your current projects?
I spend most of my time working for the Jonny Wilkinson Foundation, a mental health charity inspired by my own challenges during my career. I will also be in Japan commentating and supporting England. I sometimes miss the euphoria of the moment but I’m very happy where I am right now in my life.
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