Hey there, thanks for clicking! Today, I'll be introducing you to Neil. Neil founded the Supercars of New Zealand (SoNZ) and he's owned 5 McLarens in 4 years and understanding why is the topic of this article.
Here's 5 Questions with Neil from Supercars of New Zealand
Neil replies with a hearty laugh & follows it up with a funny story. When he was planning to buy his first supercar, he was adamant that it would be a Ferrari 458, so he went to the local McLaren dealership as they had a 458 coupe in stock. After test driving the Ferrari, the salesman suggested he drive a McLaren. Neil tried to resist saying that McLarens looked too conservative, but eventually gave in. “You know how salesmen are!” he says. After taking the MP4-12C for a drive, he completed some research and his thoughts on the brand saw him make a complete turnaround. He was now on his way to buying his first McLaren. Neil describes himself as a person who loves the design, technical & mechanical aspect of cars, so McLaren was a match made in heaven. He picked out 3 main reasons for choosing McLaren – 1 offer greater comfort than other brands he’d tested, 2 they have a carbon fibre mono-cell tub which won’t lose structural integrity if driven on track & 3 the historic NZ connection with Legend, Bruce McLaren, just feels right.
For a man with as rich a motoring ownership history as Neil (he changes cars often), I expected him to mull over this one for a long time, but to my surprise his reply was instant. Without skipping a beat, he replied with the 600LT. To him, McLarens have a certain “je ne c’est quoi” which he calls the “McLaren oomph”. He reckons although all the cars he’s owned have had that, it’s more raw & apparent in the 600LT. Neil’s enjoyed all his cars & while the Solis gold launch edition 675LT Spider was a close second, he still says the 600LT is the best, as it’s lighter & has a better “feel” with a more traditional suspension set up.
Dream 5 Car Garage?
I really did put him on the spot here as Neil is a man who likes to research his options before he makes a decision, so after some contemplation he came up with 5 cars. Having owned many Porsches, the Carrera GT was the first one that came to mind. He still thinks the Ferrari 458 is an exceptional & well-designed car & so the second car on his list is a 458 Speciale. Then came the moment I was waiting for – the addition of a McLaren to this already exciting list! Not just any McLaren though, but the extremely quick P1. Neil has also owned a RUF BTR2 in the past (it’s now residing in France) & so he added its slightly more modern sibling, the CTR to his list as he thinks they have a truly different character to the Porsches they are based on. Last but by no means least, he added his current supercar, the 600LT, to the list.
Neil is a man who loves driving & uses his cars often. Along with his 600LT he also owns a manual Porsche GT4, that he’s presently upgrading to a GT3RS, so I was naturally interested in what his pick is for a daily car. I was expecting something driver-focused, possibly a Golf R or something of the like. My VW guess was right, but it’s not one you’re all expecting. He cheekily replied with “It’s a Cross Polo” & then followed up his statement with a laugh as he noticed my surprised expression. The Cross Polo is an unusual car choice but Neil pointed out “…it’s practical, handles remarkably well & is thrifty”. He only drives a short distance to work & cars rarely get the chance to heat up so he has chosen to be sensible. Oh and yes he used to drive a Golf R which he sold to his eldest son as his daily drivers are passed down initially within his family.
What is Supercars of NZ About?
We’ve learnt that Neil is a man who loves his supercars, there’s no doubt about that. However he also loves the challenge of working hard to achieve ownership and then the experiences that come with that & the community of people you meet. He says “…cars unite people from all walks of life. That’s really cool and that’s what SoNZ is all about …sharing real life experiences of owning & driving a supercar in this beautiful country”.
NZ is a fairly small place & so the car community here is quite close knit. SoNZ’s intent is to inspire people to achieve dreams, plus help supercar owners & fans across the country unite & share their common passion regardless of car brand. He also wants to educate the wider public that supercar owners are just normal people who wear jeans & t-shirts like everyone else, so he regularly attends events, organizes drives & gives back to the community. Neil is a man that grew up in Mangere East, worked hard & used night school education to help him get ahead. He hopes his cars will help inspire some younger people out there to understand that work ethic is critical & that they can do the same thing if they put their minds to it. “It’s not about your bank balance, I’ve proven that he says - it’s about focus, determination and hard work!”
Bonus Question- Dream Car?
Neil says it’s not something he thinks about these days. But he gave me a smile as he then reminisced on the days of his youth. “The Ferrari Testarossa” he said, was “the” car, an icon of the 1980s & posters of it adorned the wall of every teenage boy of the time. However, he thought it through a bit deeper and said … I actually wouldn’t want to own one now though. He’d rather that the Testarossa remained as a dream car than owning or even driving one. He suspects his childhood expectations would be let down due to the spoils of his present garage so, reflected on his fundamental love of engineering & design and would actually put a Pugani Huayra at the top of his list!
Thanks again for the opportunity to meet with you, Neil!
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Words by Matthew D'souza, all pictures supplied by Neil from Supercars of NZ, taken by @beinn on instagram.