Tell me about yourself.
I’m a designer, artist and sculptor. I make very sculptural lightning, as well as installation pieces and anything else really. I was born in Brixton and after moving away gravitated back here 14 years ago. I have my studio here and live above it and I’m into cars.
What car do you drive?
At the moment it’s a Mercedes SL 320 on an R plate. It’s a 1998 and I’ve only had it for about 6 weeks. It’s a car I’ve always looked at; especially when I had my last car which was a BMW 8 series I was looking at the Merc. For some reason — I don’t know why — I didn’t get the Mercedes, I think I got too fixated on the 8 series as its such a great looking car and it was an amazing buy at the time. So when I got rid of the 8 series I was without a car for a couple of years; you don’t really need a car in central London. But fairly recently — after Christmas — I decided to get a car again because it feels so much a part of who I am. It’s not as much to do with convenience, it’s more to do with feeling that it’s something I’ve always liked. So I had the opportunity to look at the Merc again.
Do you know much about any previous owners?
No idea. I bought it from a guy in Sterling, Scotland. He dropped the price at some point so I said I’ll have a look at it and flew to Edinburgh. I really didn’t look that hard, it’s not a huge amount of money so I just said that I would take it! Then I drove it all the way back to London.
Did you have to do any repairs after you got your car?
No. I mean… it’s a constant thing. I bought it really cheap. There are small issues, things that need doing, but I don’t mind that — that’s fine. It’s something I want to use as a daily driver and it’s not a weekend car, I don’t want to be precious about it. It’s not a car that I mind leaving in the Sainsbury’s car park because it’s gonna get dents and scuffs. It’s a great piece of automotive design and a great looking car.
Do you think that the design aspect of cars is what sparks your interest?
Yeah, it does! I love the great statements of automotive design; like the Citroen DS is an incredible car — it’s got so many advances in technology. Each country has a very different takes on automotive design. Of course the Italians do, they’ve been preeminent and they have been for so long. That’s a fascinating thing too, the styling exercises which generate press and people to buy the car. It’s probably the same now, although it’s changed dramatically with production techniques. A car like the E-type — no one had ever seen anything like that. The XKE when it came out in 62 at the Geneva show; the press were like, ‘what the hell is this?!’. And because of it’s price, you could buy two E-types for the price of a Ferrari or an Aston Martin which was phenomenal. Enzo Ferrari said it was the most beautiful looking car without a Ferrari badge on it!
Where would you say is your favourite place to drive?
It’s great cruising around central London. At the moment it’s free until April but when the new regulation comes in that will be £12.50… But when my brother, who lives in Holland, comes over we go for a roadtrip — probably to St. Ives, we have a sort of history there. Although my brother went to school in Brixton we have an association with Cornwall and St. Ives, and there’s an artist community by the Tate down there too. But I’ve had thoughts about taking it on a ferry to Morocco to then drive it to wherever and back, maybe through France and Spain too.
So you don’t mind driving in the busy traffic of London?
No… I mean it can have its moments, but it’s one of those things you kind of accept. And the new charge is going to pull a lot of cars off the road.
What would you say is your favourite detail of the car?
That’s an interesting one. I think there are probably many, but overall it’s the presence of it, the stance of it. Actually, the wheels with the AMG muscularity. That’s something the car needs, most of the other alloys don’t really work; they don’t do the car justice, like… who’s responsibility was it to make those wheels?! Whereas these [current wheels] do. The wheels are probably the most important part of the car, they set the car off. People do all sorts of things with after-market alloys and you can really make a complete balls up the look of the car if you don’t pick wisely.
Is there any other classic that you would like to drive?
I don’t have space to keep more than one car, a 4-5 car garage would be great! Toys…! [laughs] There are a few; like the Rolls Royce Corniche, I think an Aston Martin DB7, again — rack top, convertible. I know it’s not a classic car, but I think I would like an F-type, but probably the coupé. Or [would like] to try it at least; it’s very well balanced. I’d love the 2002 Porsche targa I had, with the panoramic glass roof. I’d love to have another Targa…
Going back a bit I think a series one E-type. In terms of an American car a classic mustang … or a Dodge Challenger. These cars are just like boats really, they go fast in straight lines…! [laughs] Or even BMWs from the 80s. The 6 series are gorgeous looking, like a beautiful shark. Or the 8 series that I once had… but there’s so many, you could keep going forever.