Meet the Drivetriber is back! Surprisingly with two interviews in the same week!
Before introducing you my guest for today, the usual friendly reminder about this series of posts. Meet the Drivetriber is a series of interviews, hosted by me, which give anyone the chance to answer a few questions and help to know the amazing people who are part of Drivetribe. More info here.
Today I'm going to ask some questions to Robert Percy! Robert doesn't lead any tribe but it's a good writer and a car enthusiast by heart, which who I share the love for quirky cars and military jackets.
Now let's start with the questions and let Robert tell us something about himself!
Where are you from?
That's a bit of a long story!
I was born in South East London. I lived around that sort of area of London until I was 13, then my family relocated to Swansea because my dad changed jobs. I've been in Swansea ever since, but my older sister moved back home a couple of years ago so I still go back every now and again. Going from such a big and important city like London to a smaller, more isolated one almost as far out west as you can go on the UK mainland made my childhood pretty interesting because the culture is so different here than it is in London. For the Americans who might be reading this, I guess it's kinda like moving from New York to somewhere in New Hampshire? I might be a bit off the mark there...
What do you do?
That's also a bit of a long story I'm afraid!
My 'day job' (if you can call it one) is helping to run a business alongside my parents where we get involved a lot with the tourism industry locally. A lot of the time it involves me doing cleaning and gardening, so it's not the most glamourous job in the world, but I get paid pretty well for doing it most of the time! It's very seasonal though, so I'd like to eventually get some other form of paid work outside of the summer to help keep me financially afloat. Outside of that, I'm pretty much a freelance journalist. I'm the editor of a music website called Rockodile Reviews where we cover rock & metal music with a big emphasis on finding new and emerging artists, because they're the ones that need the most help from the smaller outlets like us. I also write about pro wrestling (one of my other big passions besides cars & music!) for a website & magazine called Rope Break. I also have a lot of ideas for the future that I can't quite get doing yet because I don't have the resources right now. I'm a bit of a workaholic and I always want to get myself involved in anything I can contribute meaningfully to!
How did you join DriveTribe?
The same way I joined other communities like CarThrottle, I guess - through word of mouth and social media. Plus the fact that Jeremy, James and Richard were behind it (3 people I grew up watching when they did Top Gear) was a bit of an added incentive for me to join! I didn't start actively posting though until a good while after I joined.
What's your favourite Tribe?
I'm not sure really! I guess the Ford Owners Club is one that I like a lot because I'm very much a Ford guy. I also like going on Jeremy Clarkson's tribe because he's always got something funny or entertaining to say.
What started your passion for cars?
It's always been there. My mum maintains one of the first things I ever said in my life was "car"! It no doubt helped as well that I had a couple of friends and relatives who always seemed to end up picking up really interesting cars - everything from the legendarily indestructible 80s and 90s Mercedes stuff to classic VWs, old school BMWs, big hydropneumatic Citroens and high performance Saabs. My great aunt and uncle even owned a Renault Safrane at one point during my childhood, which is a car that pretty much NOBODY owned in the UK. So yeah, I think I was spoiled a little bit in that regard!
What's your favourite classic car?
I have a real soft spot for the R107 Mercedes SL, because the aforementioned Safrane owners also had one of those and still have it to this day. It's no sports car but it doesn't pretend to be one either, it's just a wonderful cruiser with an incredible ride and a glorious sounding engine if you spend out and get a proper stainless steel exhaust fitted. I have a bit of a soft spot for classic American stuff too, I'm hoping that maybe one day I can get my hands on a big old American V8 cruiser like a Ford Galaxie 500, a 60s or early 70s Lincoln Continental or an early 70s Cadillac Eldorado. I'm also a huge fan of the first generation Toyota MR-2 - it's fantastic how Toyota basically took a load of 80s Corolla parts and formed it into one of the most fun little sports cars to have ever been made. If it counts as a classic as well, the Citroen XM because the angular Bertone design still looks fresh now, the suspension is amazing (when it works!) and the V6 is the engine that the big Citroens really needed.
What's your favourite modern car?
I think it might have to be the Jaguar i-Pace as of right now. It has to have one of Ian Callum's best designs of his entire career, it's got those EV credentials (let's face it, EV is here to stay, don't fight it it's pointless) and from what I've heard it's super fun to drive. I'd love to get my hands on one for a couple of days and try it out.
What's your daily drive?
My daily (and only!) drive is a 2011 Ford Focus 1.6 Titanium, which I wrote a review of not long ago! It's a very unusual colour that gets a bit of a love/hate relationship from people, but I personally love how much it brightens up all its surroundings.
What are your hobbies?
Writing is one of the big ones, even though it's kinda technically also my job (I still don't get paid for any of my writing but I'm hoping that'll change soon enough). I've played various musical instruments as well since I was very young. I started piano lessons when I was about 4 or 5 years old probably and then later on took up trombone, guitar, bass guitar, learned how to sing properly and also started messing around with synthesizers. I can play a little bit of drums and percussion too but nothing beyond fairly simple stuff. I'm hoping I can start getting the ball rolling with making my own music very soon. My dad plays multiple instruments and sings so I think my musical talent mainly comes from him. As I mentioned earlier, I'm really into pro wrestling and not just WWE, I'll basically watch anything I can get my hands on really. I also really like going on long walks or just going exploring in the woods or up mountains, anything like that really. There's something really great about just being out in the wild, either by yourself or with some friends. I think visiting the Austrian Alps when I was young left a big impression on me!
What's your dream road trip?
I'd love to drive across Europe at some point. Just get in the car/van/whatever it may be and drive down to one of my favourite places in Europe, either around the Austrian alps or maybe all the way down to Southern Italy. There's a hell of a lot of big road trips I want to do eventually but I guess that's the one that's most realistic.
Tell us something funny that's happened to you in a car
Robert Llewelyn (Kryten from Red Dwarf and presenter of the Fully Charged show) once overtook me on the M4 in his Tesla Model S when I was driving home from London. He was going well over the speed limit and I was just about to say some unrepeatable words in his general direction when I realised who it was and Red Dwarf fanboy mode took over. He pulled into a service station a few miles down the road and I didn't see him again. Hey, at least I have a good story out of it!
Tell us a song that you particularly enjoy to listen whilst driving
Right now whenever I don't want the radio on, I put on the debut album from Holding Absence. They're a fairly local band to me and I'm very good friends with their singer Lucas, who I first met when he was in a previous band back in 2012. They're a very interesting band with a sound that's kind of like Radiohead meets Thrice meets Gallows meets Architects - some stuff is very poppy and upbeat, some stuff is very heavy and some stuff is very atmospheric. "Like A Shadow" is one of the more upbeat ones and it's a good one to have on if you're doing a high-speed cruise on the motorway or something. The chorus is super catchy too so yeah good for a bit of in-car singalongs!
Are you a Motorsport fan?
Yes! I used to be super into F1 but I fell out of love with it after they went from V8s to Turbo V6s. The cars are really boring now honestly! I try to keep a handle on what's going on with Formula E because I think that could turn out to be a really interesting race series. BTCC is always good fun to watch. I like to keep an eye on endurance racing as well because of how mental the prototype class cars are - I honestly feel like Formula 1 could learn a lot of lessons from how comparatively lenient the rules are in that series on things like powertrains and allowing cars to have drivetrains other than bog standard RWD. I got into the Australian V8 Supercars as well after having a lot of fun racing the cars from the series on the Forza Motorsport games - they can be pretty challenging to drive in the game so I can only imagine what it's like to drive one for real!
Who's your favourite racing driver?
I have a soft spot for Kimi Raikkonnen because he doesn't care for racing politics at all and his little one-liners are hilarious. I don't know if he intends to be that funny and he probably doesn't, but he's very entertaining anyway. Hell of a driver too, he's achieved so much in multiple types of racing including F1.
What do you think of DriveTribe?
It's been a really great place for me to connect with other people who like cars and let me have a little space where I can write about cars every now and again. I think it's going to do a lot too, as James May said once, help to democratize motoring journalism. It's amazing that in some way thanks to DriveTribe existing, you can get yourself into that world just by using your home computer or an app on your phone or tablet. It's something that was impossible really even just 10 years ago. Whilst it might not always lead to something like that becoming a person's full-time career, the fact is so many of us all have some kind of side hustle anyway that we do because we love doing it and places like DriveTribe make it a lot easier for us to make those side hustles a reality.
Thanks for reading and thanks to Robert for being a volunteer to be interviewed! Follow him, you will not be disappointed!
Meet the Drivetriber will be back soon!
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If you have missed the previous interviews you can find down here the latest two posts!