There are classic cars, and then there are classic Jaguars – so driving a 1959 Jaguar XK120 around the iconic Goodwood circuit is a pretty good day for me. There’s nothing quite like it: the smell of the leather, the wood, the fuel... It’s just astonishing – there’s a very romantic feel to it. Although, at 6’3”, I don’t fit into the car too well – my knees are up to my nose and my head sticks up above the windscreen, which is a little disconcerting, especially if you’ve ever rolled a car (which I have).
I’m a complete petrolhead. My love of motoring was already well established by the time I bought my first car, a 1.1 1988 Fiesta Ghia, complete with electric windows that would only open if you pressed the button and simultaneously banged on the door. My friends and I nicknamed it ‘The Beast’. I clearly remember taking a girl on a date in it; both the doors broke and she had to climb out through one of the windows. It’s probably not surprising that I never saw her again.
My fantasy car, though, is a Jaguar XKSS – there were only 16 ever made. They would have made more but the factory burnt down and production ceased. I actually got to drive one of them last year, but I don’t think I’ll ever own one – they cost about £20 million each! Truthfully, I was a bit scared to drive it at first; I didn’t want to be the guy that crashed the £20 million Jag, but it’s essentially a racing car, so it drives better the faster you go. When I was driving it, my earpiece may have accidentally fallen out, so I may have done a couple of laps a bit faster than I was supposed to. They ended up having to send a car out to come and get me, which was a bit embarrassing.
It wouldn’t have been my first crash, though. Predictably, I’ve crashed a couple of cars racing, although in the last one I was actually the navigator and Yasmin Le Bon was driving – we were partnered in the 2013 Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile car race in Italy. My most notable crash – purely because my dad never lets me forget it – was when I crashed a tiny Peugeot. I went down a grassy bank and put the car on its roof – even now, whenever I say farewell to my dad, he says, ‘Drive safe, David. Mind those grassy banks.’ I’m, like, ‘Dad, it was 14 years ago, forget about the grassy bank’ – but you learn from your mistakes.
It’s funny, most of my style icons – people like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman – are petrolheads too. My personal style is very utilitarian. I like quality outerwear, trousers and driving shoes; it’s all pretty simple stuff – exactly like James Dean, who almost invented the wearing of a white T-shirt. I think you have to find your own style; I’m not a big believer in trends. My advice is to always try different things, it’s good to be individual, but finding what works for you and your look is the key. Just because something’s on a runway or in a magazine, don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all – if it doesn’t work for you, don’t wear it.
IN THE FAST LANE
David talks wardrobe mishaps, car crashes and the thrill of vintage motoring.
1. THE DRIVER
Sébastien Loeb, the many-time rally champion, would be my ultimate driver. He can pedal a car like no other.
2. THE ROAD
My fantasy drive would be the Route 1 highway by the Pacific Ocean. It takes in San Francisco and Los Angeles via the Big Sur and Pebble Beach. It’s pretty spectacular.
3. THE WHEELS
I’d love to own a Jaguar XKSS, a road-going version of the Jaguar D Type. But seeing as there were only 16 ever made, and they each cost £20 million, it’s probably quite unlikely.
4. THE MUSIC
I don’t listen to anything if I’m driving hard; you need to concentrate on the engine and pay attention to the tyres and gearbox. Otherwise, I listen to a combination of Magic FM and Smooth FM – everyone takes the mickey out of me for that.
5. THE LOOK
Driving a car like a vintage Jaguar gives you a licence to a certain look. You can style it up with heritage-inspired pieces, such as Harris Tweed and tailoring classics.