Q: How long have you been interested in cars, and how did your fascination begin?
A: My car interest started with the Hillman Avenger that my parents bought in 1976 and kept until about 1998. My parents could only afford old cars and I would watch Dad perform DIY repairs and maintenance on them. Me and my brother used to go with him to trawl the local salvage yards looking for parts to keep the car on the road. To this day I get a lot of pleasure from tinkering with old cars. That’s my hobby, while much of my work centers on test driving and reviewing new stuff.
Q: On to the show – what’s your most memorable moment on Mud Sweat and Gears so far?
A: There have been several memorable moments on Mud, Sweat and Gears thus far,
but I think doing the steeplechase in a BMW 540i riddled with drilled-out holes was pretty mental. We had a 4.4-litre V8 manual M-sport BMW stripped down to the bones and were jumping it over expanses of water.
Q: Can you name/describe the most surprising thing that’s happened to your MSG team?
A: I think the most surprising thing was how close I got to most of my teammates. The show is intense, and the short time we get to build and compete
Q: What’s made you laugh the hardest on the set of Mud Sweat and Gears?
A: Seeing Wookie’s cars were often funny. His spy Volvo car in shrubbery camouflage (when we were surrounded by concrete dockyard) was particularly good. And that giant axe on his Caprice first gave me the giggles and then the shivers… because it was frigging lethal.
Q: Which challenge on Mud Sweat and Gears have you found the most difficult?
A: Embarrassingly one of the hardest missions was in Spy car where me and Wookie had to hand-brake turn at speed into a parking space next to the red carpet. We’ve both slid cars tons of times, but on that day, in those cars, on that surface, it seemed utterly impossible.
Q: Can you share one surprising Mud, Sweat and Gears fact – that viewers at home wouldn’t know?
A: A surprising fact is that Wookie often didn’t wear any underwear under his race suit. We were filming in Californian desert in summer so temperatures were grueling—as high as 49 degrees.
Q: What’s your number one dream machine?
A: Tough question! Apart from the cars I own, my dream car would probably be something called a Panther Six. A strange British 6-wheeled car which looked straight out of the Thunderbirds.
Q: Which brand new car on the market would you most like to transform/reconstruct/supersize – and talk us through what you would do?
A: A body-lifted off-road Rolls Royce Wraith might be nice. Monster truck wheels and ladder chassis but with a big Rolls coupe body shell and refinement.
Q: How many cars do you own, and can you talk us through what they are?
A: I have owned about 130 cars since I was 16. I’ve always had a fetish for old American iron, and have been restoring a 1964 Chevy Impala SS lowrider project for the last 10 years. I also have a patina-look 1968 Dodge Charger, an original 383 big block 4-speed manual car with no power brakes or steering. I’ve also got a thing for unloved ugly cars so am building an Austin Allegro street sleeper which is Britain’s most hated car. I am also finishing a street-legal electric hot rod, which is based upon a quirky British EV from the early 1970s called an Enfield 8000. That promises over 1000hp. My daily driver is a Honda Insight generation 1, which is the highest mileage Honda hybrid in Europe.
Q: How is this show different from other top TV car shows?
A: We build cars very quickly that only need to survive for a short time. We also build not entirely knowing what challenges lay before us, so you have to think cleverly and manage your expectations. They are not the neatest builds, but they have to be functional, tough and easy to fix. And the loser’s car gets killed, which can be heart wrenching.
Q: Can you sum up Mud, Sweat and Gears in just three words?
A: Build, Break, Mend
Q: Dish the dirt on Wookie:
1) Sum up Wookie’s greatest strength as a team leader?
A: Wookie always has a plan; he always has a vision and is good at man managing.
2) Does Wookie have a specific style as a team leader?
A: Wookie looks for the loophole in the rulebook. His signature move as a team leader is to make sure there are pickaxes in the tool kits.
3) What is Wookie’s best trait?
A: He has a way with words which always cracks me up. His mad eyes are infectious and you know he’s always game for a laugh.
4) Describe Wookie’s worst trait?
A: He isn’t very clever when it comes to using correct garage tools.
5) What’s Wookie like in a crisis?
A: He cares for people’s welfare, so in a crisis Wookie will look out for your safety.
6) Any Wookie secrets only you would know?
A: At the ripe ole age of 12, Wookie crashed his Dad’s BMW 635 CSi into their own house.