Natisha and the Suzuki Jimny

10 Questions With Natisha Chatten, Auto Social UK

Natisha and the Suzuki Jimny
Natisha and the Suzuki Jimny

At Changing Lanes, we are continuing our travel around the world (virtually) to gather the best new stories and independent voices on motoring! Today, we are taking a short journey across the Irish Sea to the UK to catch up with Natisha Chatten from Auto Social UK. In this interview Natisha tells us the story of how she got started making YouTube car review videos.

Natisha has a background in the dealership side of the motor industry and this informs her approach. This experience in the retail environment means Natisha has lots of insight into what customers actually want to know about new cars, what's important to them and how to tell it to them. She's also one of the few emerging female voices on new cars, and she mentions in our interview her desire to inspire other young women to get into cars.

Natisha uses video to show her audience the features of some of the most desirable new models on the market. This year alone she's been behind the wheel of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, BMW 1 Series, the Volvo S60, the Ford Puma and the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa. She's already building a community online through YouTube and her social channels. Here's what Natisha had to say about the inspiration behind her channel and some of her favourite cars!

1. Can you introduce yourself to our readers in a few sentences?

Hi, my name is Natisha, more often referred to as Tish and I am an aspiring ‘new car reviewer’ from the East of England. I have always had a keen interest in cars and have worked within the automotive industry in various roles for the past few years. I launched my YouTube channel and brand ‘Auto Social UK’ at the beginning of 2019.

2. How did you get started reviewing cars on YouTube?

A few years ago, I worked at an independent car dealership where I was thrown into the deep end and put in front of a camera. Despite my initial meltdown, I quickly become comfortable with presenting cars. I started to realise I really enjoyed it and the videos were very well received. However, I hated not being in charge of what I filmed and how long I was given to prepare so I decided I wanted to start my own YouTube channel on my own terms.

3. How are you building your community online?

I am building my online community slowly but steadily. Currently this is not my full-time job, so I am happy to grow my channel organically using other supporting social media like Instagram and Facebook. Despite this I already have quite a few people that engage regularly with my videos and content, giving me constant feedback and support, which has been overwhelmingly encouraging.

4. What inspires you?

I believe that being a female within the car industry is tough. I feel inspired to prove myself in what is predominantly a male workplace and encourage other young girls to get into cars.

Working within sales I found it very apparent that car dealerships become desensitised to the magnitude of the decision a customer needs to make when picking a new car. I wanted to build a platform that would help people to be able to explore cars within more detail from their own homes. I do not claim to be a car expert and try to look at car reviews from a customer’s point of view. What features for instance would be important to say my mum when buying a car?

Dream car: the new Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet
Dream car: the new Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

5. What car do you drive and why?

My personal car was a sensible purchase, a little Volkswagen Street Up! At the beginning of 2019 I had to give back my company car. I needed something that was going to be reliable, as well as cheap to run and insure. This little car ticks all of the boxes. With its playful stripes and nice upgrades of full leather and panoramic sunroof I think it matches my personality and needs very well. In the not too distant future I have my heart set on the Volkswagen T-Roc convertible.

6. Favourite music to drive to?

You can thank my dad for my favourite driving playlist. We used to take road-trips down to Devon regularly when I was younger and there would always be The Red Hot Chilli Peppers or Arctic Monkeys blaring through the speakers. Still to this day that is my favourite music to drive to.

7. What do you like to do when not testing cars?

When I am not testing cars, I like to travel. I love exploring new cities that I haven’t been to and writing travel itineraries for my trips.

Natisha and the Skoda Karoq
Natisha on location with the Skoda Karoq

8. What would be in your dream 3 car garage?

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

Audi TTRS.

Lamborghini Urus.

9. Favourite place in the UK for a road trip?

I would have to choose the Norfolk coast as my favourite place for a UK road trip. It’s not far from myself in Suffolk and holds lots of happy memories, from spotting seals in Hunstanton to catching crabs in Cromer.

10. And finally, how can our readers follow your work?

If you want to follow my journey; the best way would be to subscribe to my YouTube channel ‘Auto Social UK.’ You can also find me at autosocialuk.com, on Instagram @auto_social_UK or on Facebook @AutoSocialUKReviews.

Subscribe to Auto Social UK on YouTube for more
Subscribe to Auto Social UK on YouTube for more

Thanks to Natisha for taking part in this interview!

By Caroline Kidd


Eugene Devereux, founder of Irish Boostrapper, and his BMW 3 Series Coupe

Me And My Car: Eugene Devereux, Irish Bootstrapper

Eugene Devereux, founder of Irish Boostrapper, and his BMW 3 Series Coupe
Eugene Devereux, founder of Irish Boostrapper, and his BMW 3 Series Coupe

Irish Bootstrapper was founded by Eugene Devereux and promotes positive mental and physical health through travel and adventure. Eugene produces the popular podcast The Bootcast, which features inspiring interviews with people living and working in the travel and adventure space. Eugene also loves cars and he accepted our invitation to feature on Changing Lanes with his BMW 3 Series Coupe! I spoke to Eugene about the story behind Irish Bootstrapper, his favourite travel memories, and the most memorable journey he ever took in his BMW.

1. Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

Hi, I'm Eugene Devereux from Carlow, Ireland. My passions lie in travel, adventure and business, while my interests are in tech, media, music, motors and of course Ireland. My professional background is in media, sales and marketing, and in 2019 I started a new Adventure/Travel brand called Irish Bootstrapper.

Irish Bootstrapper: A new travel and adventure brand

2. What inspired Irish Bootstrapper?

I've always had a love of travel and adventure, ever since taking my first flight to Wales at 14 years old. Since then, I've been to a lot of Europe, the US and most recently South East Asia. Also, I take part in adventure races around Ireland, which are a fun, challenging way to see the country and meet new people. I had always wanted to start my own business. So, when I went travelling in 2019, I started Irish Bootstrapper effectively as a blog and it naturally progressed into what you see today: a fresh Irish brand bringing you travel and adventure products, services and content with will one day be a global powerhouse in the space.

3. As you've travelled the world, have you made any observations about cars and transport in other countries?

European cites: They love to drive cars and in general smaller cars. Take Paris or Amsterdam with their Smarts, Fiat 500s and little Renaults .

Asian Cities: They love to drive 2-wheelers!

Cambodia: Tuk-tuks and rickshaws are common public transport options.

Vietnam: The bus drivers take no prisoners! On your little scooter, get out of their way! Streets are narrower and very congested in the Vietnamese cities, like Ho Chi Minh, so it's a space thing. And, you'd be surprised what you can get onto a Honda 50! I've seen anything from a chicken pen to a ghetto blaster to literally somebody's entire home on the back of a scooter whereas in Ireland or Europe, you might think you need an SUV with a roof rack and hitch for doing the same journey. Resourcefulness with their vehicles I guess.

Irish Bootstrapper in Ho Chi Minh
Irish Bootstrapper reaches Ho Chi Minh

4. What has been your most memorable car/transport moment to date while travelling? 

In South East Asia, being a passenger on my friend's scooter on my first night in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The sheer volume of traffic (99% 2-wheelers) and what appears to be absolute pandemonium is a total driving-awakening to somebody from a small Irish town.

In Europe, doing a road-trip with three friends from Nice in the South of France, along the coast and up into the French mountains, going through places like Grasse, Antibes, Castellane and another little gem of a town high in the mountains.

An absolutely amazing journey in terms of driving experience, scenery and stop off points. And all in a trusty Peugeot 307!

5. What in your opinion are three of the best road trips and which car would you choose to explore each of them?

Oh good question. From what I've done and what I'd like to do:

1) The South of France road trip mentioned above. You could start off in Monte Carlo and go through the coastal towns before heading into the mountains. I would do this again in an Ariel Atom. These are real "driver's roads" and the car would be ideal for maximising the spectacular views en route.

2) A trip to the West of Ireland and around the West, in something like a VW Camper. The West is so amazing in terms of terrain, scenery and its rugged Irish appeal, as well as a host of activities and traditional taste along the way.

3) The entire Route 66 in either an original Mustang or Dodge Charger. Clichéd maybe but it would be so "American muscle"!

When not travelling abroad, Eugene is driving the 2010 BMW 3 Series Coupe
When not travelling abroad, Eugene is driving the 2010 BMW 3 Series Coupe

6. Tell us about your car/what do you like about it?

I drive a 2010 BMW 320d M Sport Coupé. It's a lovely car to drive, it's reliable and actually quite fuel-efficient for a 184 bhp 2 litre. The boot is pretty big for packing for trips around Ireland and long journeys are comfortable, even on the low-profile 19s. It can be fun in the wet too!

7. Most memorable journey to date with that car? Where did you go?

Probably driving it back from Wales when I bought it. I was so excited to have bought it and the journey from Cardiff, through Swansea and onto Fishguard before boarding the ferry was a great intro to my future with the car. I drove about 300 km in total so was pretty used to its handling and response by the time I pulled into the driveway at home!

Eugene has travelled around Ireland in his 320d
The 2010 320d is powered by a 184 bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel

8. How did you prepare for the journey?

Got my insurance changed over, brought a few snacks for the way and filled the tank in Cardiff! I found it difficult to sleep on that ferry though.

9. What was on the stereo during this journey?

Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf.

10. What did you learn from that journey? 

If you really want to do something in life, make a bit of a plan to achieve it and then take the first step. It doesn't have to be entirely mapped out with precision. Once you have a starting point, an end goal and a rough idea of how you might get there, the rest tends to fall into place. But anyway, it's the journey that matters.

Hence, the Irish Bootstrapper tagline is "Become The Journey".

Irish Bootstrapper in Saigon - eyes on the world

Listen to The Bootcast here.

You can follow Irish Bootstrapper across social media:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

Thanks to Eugene for taking part in our interview.


Interview With Nina Weizenecker

Nina Weizenecker and the Mercedes-Benz CLA
Nina Weizenecker and the Mercedes-Benz CLA

Let me introduce Nina Weizenecker, one of the brightest new stars blogging about cars! Nina is from Germany and writes for her own website and the German magazine Der Autotester. I spoke to Nina about the inspiration for her blog and her favourite cars.

1. Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences?

Hi car enthusiasts, my name is Nina Weizenecker and I am an automotive blogger. I'm from southern Germany and I study educational science. I also work for the German online car magazine www.der-Autotester.de. My father gave me a passion for cars from the time I was in the Maxi-Cosi. He didn't exchange his beloved Porsche for a family car when I was born!

2. How did you start your career testing cars?

Back in 2012, my father founded our car magazine, der-Autotester.de. I am part of the team since September 2018.

3. What is the inspiration behind your blog Ninacarmaria.de?

I set up my blog to share my enjoyment of all the latest models. It gives me great pleasure to give my community the opportunity to explore the newest cars with me.

Nina is an automotive blogger from Germany
Nina is an automotive blogger from Germany

4. What was your first car?

My very first car was a Fiat 500 Convertible. It was love at first sight. It was finished in a beautiful pearl white with a wine red roof.

5. Which have been your top 3 cars to test? 

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Audi R8

Suzuki Jimny

6. What has been the best moment of your career so far?

Totally hard to pin down. Of course, driving super sports cars are always indescribable moments but I enjoy testing camper vans even more, preferably by the sea!

Nina and the Lamborghini Aventador!
Nina and the Lamborghini!

7. Which place in Germany would you recommend for a road trip?

I'm from the Black Forest and I love the winding roads here. The magnificent landscape in combination with a beautiful sports car makes my heart beat faster. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely visit the Black Forest.

8. What advice do you have for anyone who wants a career as a motoring journalist?

Be authentic and love what you do.

You can follow Nina's adventures with cars on social media:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Youtube

Thank you Nina for taking part in this interview!

Follow Nina on Instagram to stay up to date on all the cars she tests
Follow Nina on Instagram to stay up to date on all the cars she tests

Juliet McGuire is a top South African motoring journalist

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Juliet McGuire!

Juliet McGuire is a top South African motoring journalist
Juliet McGuire is a top South African motoring journalist

Juliet McGuire is a top motoring journalist based in South Africa. Juliet brings great energy and vibrancy to her journalism and her YouTube car reviews are legendary! I'm a big fan of Juliet's work and I was delighted to interview the woman herself for Changing Lanes. In a cool twist, she also interviewed me for her site!

1. Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences?

My name is Juliet McGuire and I was born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa. I am a motoring journalist, presenter, voice over artist and pretty much everything else I can be. I love what I do. I sometimes feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I have been doing this for 12 years and have no intention of stopping anytime soon. I spend most of my free time in or near the sea.

2. How did you start your career testing cars? 

After completing my honours degree in journalism I headed to CAR magazine (South Africa's number 1 motoring publication) to complete an internship. I loved it so much that I refused point blank to leave. The rest, as they say is history. Although...it has been one incredible journey. I moved from CAR to being head hunted for a female motoring publication called Women on Wheels, of which I became the editor and then decided to go freelance where I now remain. I absolutely love the freedom freelancing offers. I can write for anyone and everyone and so I get to meet some amazing people and work for incredible publications.

3. What inspires you?

The drive to be the best. This is what inspires me. It is a tough industry for a woman and I think that constantly inspiring myself to be better is what has kept me in the game this long.

The Audi RS 4 Avant gets a place in Juliet's dream car garage!
The Audi RS 4 Avant gets a place in Juliet's dream car garage!

4. What would be in your dream 3 car garage? 

Audi RS4 Avant (for the perfect combo between practicality and performance)

Volvo XC40 or XC60 (for my every day trips to the shops. My practical drive)

Mercedes-AMG G63 (my badass car)

5. Favourite music to drive/sing to? 

There are far too many choices here. Anything that I can sing along to. It can range from Post Malone to Taylor Swift to Tracy Chapman to Diana Krall. Depends on my mood and how long the drive is.

6. Best moment of your career so far?

Making it as a freelance motoring journalist. (By making it, I mean being able to afford to feed myself ha ha). But seriously, the feeling of being respected and taken seriously by an industry that can be rather fickle is a feeling like no other. I still have my days where I feel this is not the case, but again, the inspiration to strive to be better kicks in.

7. Favourite place in South Africa for a road trip?

Up the Garden Route to Plettenberg Bay.

8. What advice do you have for anyone who wants a career as a motoring journalist?

Make sure you have creative ways of making money because this is not going to make you a millionaire. ha ha. My serious advice is to ensure you have a passion for writing before you have a passion for cars. It is not all about driving cool cars. Most of the time is spent creating content and you need to be disciplined in this. And no one wants to read sloppy work.

Thank you so much Juliet for taking part in this interview! Now read Juliet's interview with me over on JulietMcGuire.com:

https://julietmcguire.com/an-interview-with-my-spirit-animal-in-ireland/ 

You can follow Juliet across social media:


a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global

Interview With João Isaac, Garagem Global

João Issac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global
João Issac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder of Garagem Global

João Isaac is a motoring journalist from Portugal and the founder and editor of the blog Garagem Global. I recently spoke to João about his favourite cars and how he began his career in motoring writing!

1. Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

First of all, I want to thank you for this interview, Caroline. It really is a pleasure to share my experience with you and all the Changing Lanes readers. My name is João Isaac. I´m 33 and I’m from Lisbon, Portugal. Let’s cut to the chase: I love everything about cars. It was always my obsession since I can remember. In my youth, what started with playing with toy cars and reading all the car magazines I could buy, evolved to something that’s more than just a hobby. It’s a way of life. My way of life, I’m truly addicted to cars. Their history, how they changed throughout the years and evolved to what we know and drive today. From the iconic and expensive classics to the humblest new hatchback you can buy today at any dealership, I do believe they all have something special. They all have a story to tell. As a product, since their early development stages until the day they finally leave the roads and give way to a replacement. It’s a big journey worth sharing. And let’s not forget the most important part of a car, the memories we create while driving them and living with them through our lives. Those are the best ones.

2. What was your first car?

I inherited my first car. It’s a 1991 Seat Ibiza 1.2 GLX with System Porsche engine and was bought new by my grandparents. I still own it today and it has only 43,000 miles on the clock. It’s my pride and joy. It has huge sentimental value to me. The first car I bought is another Ibiza. It’s a 2001 model with a 1.9 TDI engine and it is my daily driver. This one has nearly 250,000 miles and has never left me stranded on the side of the road. I can't sell it either. I love them both.

3. Why did you start your blog?

My blog Garagem Global started because I needed more cars in my life. Collecting magazines, attending classic car and racing events to take some pictures, hearing the engines roaring and buy some memorabilia wasn’t enough. I also developed a special taste for photography in these events, which I thought I could use one day to shoot press cars and events I could get in to. So one day while working at an event in Circuito do Estoril (at the time I worked as a consultant in a Fleet Management company) I met Renault Portugal’s PR and made my first move. I introduced myself and told him I was beginning a new blog and that I needed a first car to review and start working on my dream job. He accepted my suggestion and a few days later I found myself driving a cabriolet Mégane. This was the beginning and soon other brands and cars followed.

João and the Mazda MX-5
João driving the Mazda MX-5 RF

4. What attracted you to this industry?

The engineering part of it plays a big role here. I have an engineering degree and my love for cars was the main reason I chose it. But as I said before, the car as a product and the way it changed throughout the years is also very relevant to me. I'm interested in knowing how car manufacturers have evolved since their beginnings and how relevant each model was and still is to the market. And of course, the act of driving. There’s nothing like driving your car, on your favourite road. As someone once said, way before me, “It's not about the destination, it’s the drive to get there that really matters the most”. If I could spend all of my time behind the wheel, I’d do it. No doubts about that.

5. What would be in your dream 3 car garage?

This has to be one of the trickiest ones. Can I change it to “Which cars would be in your 3 enormous garages?” Back to reality. I would say a fully loaded rally Spec Mk1 Ford Escort, a Porsche 911 GT3RS and something fast but usable on normal roads. Something beautiful and great to drive like an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. It can be driven hard at a race track or on a winding road, but it can also be very competent as a daily driver.

6. What has been your favourite car to test and why?

I think I have to say the Caterham 7. It gave me the most pure, analog and emotional experience possible at the wheel of a car. It’s not the most practical car in the world at all, I’ll admit it, but it is so much fun and so good to look at! I’m writing this and at the same time I’m remembering those few days I had that magical key in my hand. As I said earlier, memories.

Joao and the Hyundai i30N
João driving the Hyundai i30N

7. Most memorable moment of your career to date?

My first day working for a car magazine was very special. It was something I pursued for a long time. But later I had the opportunity to drive an Audi R8 V10 Plus at the Ascari Race Circuit. This has to be one of those moments that I will keep forever in my mind. It really was epic. I loved every single moment of that day.

8. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a motoring journalist?

Don’t stop believing and don’t stop trying. If the opportunity does not show, go around and make it happen. Find another way to make it real and believe in yourself and in your passion. I have tried for many years to start working for a car magazine and I have never made it. So I decided to work on that anyway by creating my blog. It all started way back in 2014 and I have to say I never made any money directly from that. Of course, my blog provided me a way of developing my writing abilities and a way to show my work, which has evolved into my first paid job as a motoring journalist in a car magazine during 2018. But money was not the point. That was not my objective. I started driving the cars I love and being with important people from the industry that I followed for years. That still gives me great pleasure. I enjoy it like it was the first time. My point is: use your time to make it happen. Start writing and let your motoring journalist journey begin. The path you choose will be great. I’m sure of that because there will be cars on the way. Lots of them.

Thank you to João for taking part in this interview!

You can follow João on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Bianca and the Audi A1

Interview With Bianca Hurduc, Arctic Swan

Bianca and the Audi A1
Bianca and the Audi A1

Bianca Hurduc is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the car blog Arctic Swan. She is based in France and her site features a mixture of automotive news, interviews and test drives!

1. Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences?

Hi everyone, I'm Bianca and I'm an automotive blogger based in France, at the border with Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany. I discovered my passion for cars when I was little but I didn't explore it until almost two years ago, when I decided to turn it into an entrepreneurial initiative, by starting my own automotive magazine. I love coffee, the sound of engines and driving, of course.

2. What was your first car? 

It was a blue Opel Corsa C, 3-door hatchback, 1.3 L. Born in 2002.

3. What inspired your blog Arctic Swan?

When a woman becomes a mother, her whole life changes in a heartbeat. After I had my daughter I became a stay-at-home mom, although until then I was a workaholic involved in the business of online media publishing. I bought my web domain months before I started my project and it's called ArcticSwan because my aim was to dye my hair in arctic grey color (this is still a plan). I have been searching for many years for an idea I would be deeply passionate about. I thought about it a lot. Didn't find it. Until one day - it was just a regular day in which I was driving to the supermarket and I noticed that there were many women in the traffic. Then, I just knew that an automotive project written from a feminine perspective was something I had to create. Women behind the wheel inspired me to create this blog.

Bianca and the Tesla Model X
Bianca and the Tesla Model X

4. How does it feel as a woman entering what has traditionally been the male domain of cars?  

Very good! Since this is a niche that hasn't yet been totally explored by women there are plenty of creative projects that can be built around cars, from a feminine point of view. I'm speaking of automotive content, there are many ladies that work in this industry and they do a great job.

5. What is the mission of Arctic Swan?

First of all, this is an online book I'm creating for my daughter. I think and hope she will enjoy reading what her mom wrote and maybe she will remember our trips with these cars we are testing together.

The other mission of Arctic Swan is to become the place where women come to inform themselves when they want to buy a new car. Women pick their cars slightly differently to men. Their top preferences are not quite the same. And since I think there is not enough automotive content that answers women's automotive questions, Arctic Swan can help lady drivers to make a decision.

6. Which car has been your favourite to test and why?

Oh, this is a hard question to answer! I loved every single car I tested. I'm grateful I have the chance to drive the newest cars on the market, I'm in Candyland. But if I had to choose, I would say it depends on my lifestyle. The BMW Z4 sDrive 30i will always have a special place in my heart but in this moment of my life I would choose the Audi A1 - it's a combination of the things I search for in a car right now and this is the first one that inspired my daughter to climb behind a steering wheel. If I would have to choose a car for a family roadtrip, the Tesla Model X would be my first choice.  For our family daily-drive I would choose the DS7 Crossback. There's a new hybrid version I would like to test.

7. What has been your most memorable moment with Arctic Swan so far?

It was the 3rd of March 2018 and it started snowing, although a few days earlier spring seemed to embrace the region. It was a special thing because it happened seconds after I had just climbed in the first car I ever tested in partnership with a car dealer, a lovely, acid yellow Hyundai Kona.

Bianca and the Hyundai Kona
Bianca and the Hyundai Kona

8. What is your favourite music to listen to in the car?

It depends on the car but I prefer the rock genre until a car makes me shut down the music because I want to listen its engine instead! (As it happened with the Z4, for example).

9. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start a successful blog?

Don't do it for the money but for the journey.

10. What's next for Arctic Swan?

I'm planning a series of special projects around my drive tests, some of them in partnership with other car bloggers. I also plan to participate at more car events.

Bianca and the BMW Z4
Bianca and the BMW Z4

Thanks to Bianca for taking part in this interview! You can follow her across social media:

Instagram

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter


Caroline Kidd interview on Arctic Swan

Caroline Featured On Arctic Swan!

Caroline Kidd interview on Arctic Swan
I'm featured on Arctic Swan talking about cars and my blog

I recently spoke to Bianca from Arctic Swan about my blog and some of my favourite cars as part of a "Ladies in Automotive" series. You can read the interview here.

Arctic Swan is a motoring and lifestyle blog with a very distinct style and stunning photography. Arctic Swan reviews cars from the point of view of the average women and is on a mission to inspire women who drive.

Hope you enjoy the article!


Niall Julian Take to the Road

Interview With Niall Julian, Take To The Road

Niall Julian is the man behind the classic car blog Take to the Road. I recently spoke to Niall to find out more about his love for classic cars and his blogging experience.

1. Where did your passion for classic cars begin?

It started when a friend asked me to find them a classic car for their wedding. Looking around for an old car for the wedding opened up a whole world of classics that I hadn’t really appreciated before. And that search lead me to buying a Daimler V8 250. Once I got it I was bitten by the classic car bug.

2. What led you to set up Take to the Road?

Cars have always been a passion and along side that I’ve always had an interest in filmmaking. Added to that I’ve been into photography for a long time. So I decided to combine all my passions into one and set up my own classic car website and YouTube channel.

3. What was your first car and what do you remember of it?

My first car was a 1993 VW Golf Mk3 1.9 diesel. It was the old family car which I inherited after university. 93 CW 1062 was its old Irish registration. I brought it over to England and drove it for a few years until the gearbox played up. It was a non turbo diesel Golf so it was very slow. And it had terrible drum brakes. But it was solid and was very economical. And it gave me my freedom to drive anywhere. So I had a lot of fun with it.

4. What cars do you currently own?

Too many that's for sure! I have a 1995 Golf GTi 8v which I’ve had for 13 years. I traded my old diesel in for the GTi. I also have a 1990 Bertone x1/9 Gran Finale. Basically I bought that about a month after selling my Daimler V8 250. The Daimler was gone barely a week when I spotted the little Fiat. Of course I couldn’t resist and had to fill that void after the Daimler was gone. I’ve also got a 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider S3. It’s a bit of a project but it's a very pretty convertible. So it’s two Italians versus one German at the moment.

Niall Julian Take to the Road
Niall's Mark 3 Volkswagen Golf GTi

5. Whose work do you admire?

I’m a big fan of director Wes Anderson. I just love his style of filmmaking. His work isn’t to everyone's taste and he’s a bit quirky. But the detail he puts into his films is fantastic. I’d love to be able to reach his standards one day.

6. What tips would you have for anyone thinking about buying a classic car?

Do your research on the car before you go to look at it. Check its service history and if you can access its MOT/NCT records online do that first. If a classic has failed its MOT in the past or has got any future advisories, it will give you an idea of the car's condition. Always try and bring a friend when you go to look at a car. A second opinion and another pair of eyes is always good. And trust your gut. If the car doesn’t feel right, just walk away. There will always be another classic.

7. What would be in your dream three car garage?

Oh that is a tough one as I have so many dream cars on the list. And it’s a very, very long list! But if I had to have just three they would be an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, an ISO Grifo 7 Litre and an Aston Martin DB4 Zagato. They are beautiful and rare supercars. And of course very expensive as well. So I’d need a Euromillions win to afford them. But for me they each represent the pinnacle of car design in the 1960s, which was arguable the greatest period for classic car design.

8. Favourite driving song?

I have quite a few that I have in my driving tunes playlist. But the one I tend to have on repeat when I go out for a blast is The Unreal Thing by Scottish hardrock/metal band The Almighty. It’s got a great drum and guitar track, which is ideal if you want to drive with a heavy right foot.
Niall Julian Take to the Road
Niall's 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider S3 - very pretty indeed!
Thanks to Niall for taking part in this Q&A. Follow Niall's adventures with classic cars across social media:
Vimeo

Sinead McCann CarsIreland

Interview with Sinead McCann, CarsIreland.ie

Sinead McCann is the car reviewer and content editor at CarsIreland.ie, one of Ireland's leading car sales websites. Sinead has helped to establish CarsIreland as a destination for car video reviews of new and used cars. She has filmed over 150 video reviews for the CarsIreland YouTube channel, making it a great resource for anyone buying a car in Ireland. In this interview, Sinead gives us a behind the scenes look at her job reviewing cars and making videos!

Sinead McCann CarsIreland
Sinead behind the wheel of a race-spec SEAT Leon Cupra

1. Tell us about your work at CarsIreland.

I look after the new car content for our website and YouTube channel. My main role is in video production and I specialise in creating video reviews of all the latest models on the market. So I review cars, basically! I know that sounds like a dream job, and a lot of the time it is, but I promise it’s not always as glamourous as it sounds. I film, research and edit everything myself which while very rewarding, is not without its challenges. Giving people advice on such a big purchase is a huge responsibility.

I collect my test cars on a Monday and typically film at the end of the week, once I’ve spent some time with it and figured out what I think is good and not so good. The rest of my week is spent in CarsIreland headquarters editing, uploading, writing, planning and brainstorming for the next video or feature. I try to make them as entertaining as I can. The site has recently expanded, so it’s an exciting time for us we develop the new review section of our site and I work as part of an amazing team.

2. What led you to this role making videos and reviewing cars?

I always had an interest in cars. But funnily enough it’s not something I ever thought I’d end up working in. I suppose it was unusual being a girl into cars in my teens, and it was only when my petrol-headed brother-in-law arrived on the scene around that time that I had someone to go to car shows with that I got really into it. He helped me choose my first car, and got me interested in the mechanics of it all. My favourite thing to do became stalking car sales sites for anything rare or unusual (or just really fast). I was always fascinated, but I just saw it as a hobby.

Career-wise, I wanted to be a journalist. Writing was my first love, but over the years that evolved into story-telling in other formats – video being my favourite. It never really occurred to me that I could combine the two. I got my degree in Journalism, travelled a bit, then ended up working in a car showroom while I figured out what I wanted to do. Then the role in CarsIreland came along. It actually started as a temporary project - linking all the cars on the site to existing video reviews. While doing so I noticed a big gap in the market for certain very popular used models that had come out before the whole YouTube thing really happened. So being young and probably a bit too brave for my own good, I put my hand up to make them myself. I went out that day armed with some very amateur kit, borrowed a car (my Mam’s Micra - it’s still up there, please don’t watch it) and from there began working my way through all the most popular used cars that people were searching for, borrowing cars from dealers and wherever I could get them really. It was another couple of years of tremendously valuable experience, and not a bit glam I promise! I spent a good two years reviewing twenty-year-old Almeras in carparks before the new stuff came along. But there was a market for it and people engaged. Once the older stuff was done, we decided to branch into the new car market and the site took off in a big way as a resource for all car buyers. So that’s where we are now, still growing and expanding all the time, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Sinead McCann CarsIreland
Somewhere in Ireland: Sinead on location with the Volkswagen Arteon

3. What do you like about your job?

I love every bit of it. I am tremendously lucky to be able to do what I do for a living. I think one of my favourite things is the diversity. Every day is different. And it’s not the obvious things either, like getting to drive these amazing new cars. I mean it’s a massive perk, obviously, but that’s not what it’s all about. Likewise, the travel aspect. Some car launches are in these really amazing locations and it is great to get to visit places that you otherwise might not have got the chance to. But at the end of the day, you are there to do a job and it’s not like you spend the time sight-seeing. I’m sure anyone who travels for work will relate. What I do love is that I can be of help to people in making what can be a really tough decision. There’s a sense of accomplishment in creating something from start to finish and especially when you get good feedback and see the channel grow. I especially love when people contact me to tell me that I helped them to make their minds up, and even more so when they are really happy with that decision.

4. What's the most challenging aspect of your job?

Every job has challenges. You could be a professional chocolate taster and still not feel like work sometimes! That’s what I tell myself when I’m having an off day. I suppose one of the hardest things is going on camera and trying to be positive and upbeat when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

I suppose there can be challenging aspects to being a female in this role, but not as much as you might expect. At first I did feel like I had to work harder to prove myself. I was terrified of making a mistake, for example. I was afraid if I did, people would jump on it and think that it was because I was a woman, and we’re not supposed to know about cars, are we? I suppose it made me a meticulous fact checker, and that’s not a bad thing. But to be honest, I needn’t have worried, and bar the odd sexist idiot commenting on YouTube, I have been treated with nothing but respect by my audience, and the the vast, vast majority of the people I work with in this industry.

On a sillier note, and I know Caroline will relate to this a fellow one-woman show, another challenge can be trying to remain camera-ready while wrestling with equipment on a wet and windy day. That can be a real struggle! Those are the days I wish I was a guy, or had a hair and make-up team with me. One can dream!

5. What's been your most memorable experience to date as a car reviewer?

My most memorable experience was probably my first international press trip. It was the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in 2015. The biggest car show I’d been to before that was the Terenure Vintage & Classic! So the sheer magnitude of that was mind-blowing to me. Another memorable one was when Tesla came to Ireland a few months back. A day spent behind the wheel of the Model S and Model X was just such a surreal experience. It felt like a real glimpse into the future of motoring. They are special cars.

6. Anything strange or amusing ever happen on location?

Too many things to mention. I’ve gotten stuck in the back of many a car while trying to film a centre console – child locks can be adult-proof too sometimes! I also had a passer-by stop me one day when I was out filming a car. He asked if I wanted his sheep dogs to be in the video because they could ‘do tricks and things, sit on the bonnet, and maybe behind the wheel’. He was deadly serious too. I got a great laugh out of that, and as a dog lover, I can’t say I wasn’t sorely tempted to take him up on it. I still have his card in fact. Stay tuned.

7. What was your first car?

My first car was a 1999 Opel Corsa, dinged down the side by a shopping trolley (not me), in aqua blue. My pride and joy.

8. How would you describe your driving style?

I’m in general quite a cautious driver. I’m not a speed demon at all. I absolutely love driving, don’t get me wrong, but give me a nice twisty B-road over a long boring motorway any day.

Tesla Model S: one of Sinead's dream cars!

9. What would be in your dream three car garage?

I’ll have a Tesla Model S P100D please. Then the car I dreamed of owning way before I started all this, is the SEAT Ibiza Cupra. It was one of my very first press cars and despite all the stuff I’ve driven in between I still have a huge grá for that car. I really hope they make a new one. Then I’ll finish off with a bit of vintage pocket power – a Volkswagen Lupo GTI.

10. Favourite driving song?

Shotgun Mouthwash by High Contrast. Suits every road and every mood.

Thank you to Sinead for taking part in this interview. You can follow Sinead and Cars Ireland on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!


Niall Conneely driving instructor

The Life Of A Driving Instructor

Niall Conneely is a driving instructor and in 2010 he set up his business, T.N.C. School of Motoring, providing category B car driving lessons in Galway city and Clifden. I asked Niall a few questions to find out more about his work and the life of a driving instructor.

1. What led you to become a driving instructor?

I’ve always loved driving and cars in general. When I got my own driving licence at 17 the first seeds were sown that maybe driver training was the career for me. I believe that for a young person to have a car outside their door with a full tank of fuel and a full licence is a wonderful thing. The sense of freedom and independence is hard to match. I vividly remember my own experiences when I began driving. Everything is better when you are able to drive; have you ever tried going to the drive thru for an ice cream sundae with a friend at 10pm on a Wednesday night on the bus? I like to think that I’m in a position where I’m helping people gain freedom and independence, as well as a lifelong skill.

2. How did you establish your business?

With great difficulty. I was 22 and had just ploughed a heap of money into expensive training and a dual-controlled Opel Corsa, only to find that insurance was going to be a problem. Many companies wouldn’t entertain me as I was under 25. I felt like I had hit a brick wall.  After a couple of weeks of phone calls, I did get an insurance company to work with me.

I’m very grateful to my first few clients as they did take a leap of faith with me. I was fortunate in that I had a lot of support from my locality and the surrounding areas.

3. What car do you use for driver training? Why this one?

I use a 2015 Volkswagen Up! I began my career with a 2007 Opel Corsa, which was fine. It was a good car for instruction as it was easy to drive, good visibility, reliable and soaked up abuse without complaint. The only thing the Corsa lacked was any sense of fun, acceleration, handling, joy, enthusiasm or image.

The Volkswagen Up is super for driving lessons and is also just a great car. It’s small on the outside and big on the inside. It is an attractive machine and it’s light and nippy on the road. My car is the High Up! so it has all the toys.  I’m on my second one and there is nothing on sale at the moment that would divert me from buying the same again when the time comes to upgrade.

4. Describe a typical day for you.

Alarm goes off at 7.30am.

Breakfast, shower, and make myself presentable.

I’m normally in the car between 8am and 8.30am depending on where I’m meeting my first client.

I’ll get a coffee en route. This is a key component of my day. It is likely the first of about four or five cups.

I meet the majority of my customers at the driving test centre so I’ll spend the day revolving around there. I conduct most driving lessons in my VW UP but sometimes we’ll be working in the client’s own car.

I try to catch up on calls, texts and emails where I have time throughout the day.

Lunch is a quick sandwich from wherever is convenient at the time or occasionally a nice carvery.

I usually make an effort to finish lessons no later than 8.30pm. Sometimes I’ll be finished earlier.

Home time.

Niall Conneely driving instructor
Niall uses a Volkswagen Up in his driving school

5. What do you like about your job?

What is not to like? My office is a funky little city car. I get to work with a variety of people each day and help to develop skills which will change their life for the better. There is great job satisfaction to be had from driver training – from day 1 where I meet someone new who might be very nervous about this whole driving malarkey and see them gain confidence on the road, to the day of the test where they emerge from the driving test centre with a smile and a thumbs up.

6. What personality traits do you think make the best driving instructors?

The best driving instructors must be excellent communicators and have plenty of patience.

7. What aspect of learning to drive do you find new drivers struggle with the most?

It varies, but the majority of new drivers would probably find the most challenging aspect would be using the clutch and gears. Moving off smoothly can sometimes be a hurdle or downshifting competently. Even with drivers who have years of experience, you will often see that there is room for improvement with how they use the gears.

8. What are your own memories of learning to drive?

I was doing a lot of practice between driving lessons. I had my first car at the time, a bright red 1992 Honda Civic hatchback. I probably personified the stereotype – young male driver, fast, foolish, and overconfident. A lot of the really educational moments were when I made mistakes - horrific, embarrassing mistakes – but a great learning aid. Two memorable sentences that stayed with me from that time are:

“Those parked cars won’t move for you, but if you keep out and hold your own, the oncoming traffic will move for you.”

“Slow and right is better than fast and shite.”

9. What's your opinion on driver training and the driving test in Ireland?

I think that Ireland is moving the right way with driver training. The Essential Driver Training course ensures that new drivers have a minimum level of training. There is also mandatory training for motorcyclists and the CPC training (certificate of professional competence) for the truck and bus drivers. Better training makes better drivers and thus, safer roads.

10. What advice would you have for anyone thinking about a career as a driving instructor?

Invest in training yourself. I got my rigid truck licence and bus licence years ago and I feel being on the receiving end of that training helped me develop my own service. I also completed a course on Training and Development in 2015 and I feel that also provided me with a few new tools in my toolkit. Oh, and caffeine. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on coffee.

Thank you to Niall for taking part in this interview. Niall also blogs as Motorbanter and you can read his blog here.