DAN WOODS

DAN WOODS

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Dan is the founder of Simply Motor, taking a vision of a light-hearted, easy-going blog and turning it into a successful motoring website. Through his drive to improve user experience, the website has evolved significantly from the simple Blogspot that started it all. A keen writer with a lifelong passion for cars, Dan loves nothing more than enjoying the right car on the right road.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST CAR?
It was a 2001 Citroen Saxo VTR. That’s the 8-valve one, as 17-year old me couldn’t afford the insurance on the faster, 16-valve VTS. But it was fast, handled like a go-kart and did 40-odd to the gallon. What more could you want?

AND YOUR CURRENT CAR?
Now I’m more grown up, and being a dad has taught me you must pack approximately 427 items every time you pop to the shops. My current car is a Seat Leon ST FR Technology. Because it’s an estate I can fit the kitchen sink in the boot, but a 184PS diesel engine and DSG gearbox make it good to drive too. It has all the gadgets; from Apple CarPlay to heated seats and LED headlights. And for when I’m not grown up at all, it has launch control…

WHAT’S YOUR DREAM CAR, AND WHY?
That’s the hardest question you could ask me. If I keep my sensible head on, I’d have to say the Audi RS 6 Performance. For 95% of the time it’s a practical, family-friendly estate car. It feels luxurious, executive and comfortable. But hiding under the broad arches and dustbin-sized exhausts of the exterior is a 605PS V8, and that means that for the other 5% of the time this is a rip-snorting, fire-breathing supercar killer.

Taking my sensible cap off, there is one car that has always been my pin-up: the McLaren F1 LM. There are but 5 in the world, and I dread to even imagine what price they would fetch today. But what a car. It looks as good now as it did 20 years ago, and unlike modern supercars it was proper engineering: a 6.1-litre naturally-aspirated V12 producing 680PS. And an engine bay lined in gold.

FAVOURITE MOTORSPORT?
Rallying, no question about it. Nick, as an avid Formula 1 fan, may want to shut his ears about now… but I find driving the same circle over and over again a little dreary. The point-to-point aspect of rallying, coupled to the changing road conditions and having to face the unexpected, is what attracts me to the sport. And I’m not just a fan either. Head over to the Videos section of the site and you will see some of the in-car footage from when I take to the stages.

WHY DO YOU LOVE DRIVING?
Let’s face it, the world we live in can be a cruel, hateful place. But go anywhere in the world, and you will find petrolheads (or ‘gearheads’ if you find yourself in America). And that’s because when you find a good road, and you’re in a good car, you can lose yourself in the moment. Driving satisfies the senses: from the sight of the twisty country road disappearing into the distance to the audible delight of a finely-tuned engine note. And when the sun is shining, the road is empty and the destination is non-existent, driving is utterly euphoric.

WHAT ANNOYS YOUT THE MOST ABOUT DRIVING?
The sheer incompetence of some people on the road. Those who think that driving 2 inches from the bumper of the car in front will get you there faster. Or those who will batter their 16-year old diesel to within an inch of its life, such that it billows out more smoke than the Flying Scotsman. And if you think that you can get in the leftmost lane at a roundabout and take the 10th exit, then I’m sorry but you don’t deserve a driving licence.

OTHER INTERESTS (EXCEPT CARS)?
My wife and daughter, who have made me look at cars in a more sensible way: instead of “how much power does it have?” my first thought is now “does it have ISOFIX?”. But one thing I have learned is that cars help babies sleep, so in the months following the arrival of our baby girl, I spent many hours on the road, and it was brilliant.

I like to cook, preferably outside and with fire. This used to be on the BBQ, but more recently I treated myself to a wood-fired pizza oven, and it is now my favourite tool in the garden!

After working hard all year, I enjoy nothing more than spending a fortnight on holiday to relax and unwind. My destination of choice is Golden Sands, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The sun is hot and the beer is cheap. That’ll do me nicely!

NICK GARDNER

NICK GARDNER

ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Nick is Associate Editor of Simply Motor, and manages the social media content. Having been good friends with Dan for a number of years, he has always shared his views on the latest industry news and test cars. So as the Simply Motor brand continues to grow, Nick was an obvious, and valuable, addition to the team. A family man at heart, he loves nothing more than the solitary blast to work after dropping his daughter off at nursery.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST CAR?
It was a 2010 Vauxhall Corsa SXI in Silver. Ideal car for a first time driver in my opinion. Cheap to insure, fairly nippy & the SXI came with sporty body panels, large bucket sports seats and a large rectangular exhaust. However, that exhaust made zero difference to the noise, and the performance was minimal at best. I remember the struggle of getting up hills, a lot like pushing a pram, a lot of effort with no real movement. The car only lasted 18 months, which is quite long based on my record.

AND YOUR CURRENT CAR?
I’ve just taken delivery of a brand new Skoda Octavia VRS. This car impressed me from day one. Due to the connection with the VW Audi group, you get the sense of utter quality. The space is the back is superb – no Skoda pun intended – even with those sporty seats upfront. The engine is a 2.0-litre turbo petrol & provides instant power in any gear. I’ve taken a few friends out in the car & all have been shocked and surprised at how nice it is for a Skoda. That isn’t a bad comment at all! The only thing that I’m still trying to get used to is the split in the front lights. But deep down I’m behind the wheel so why would I care!

WHAT’S YOUR DREAM CAR, AND WHY?
Money no object? It would have to be an Aston Martin Vulcan, including a private race track of course. You can’t beat the savage look of that car, whilst being the closest thing you’ll get to owning a dedicated racing team (yes, it comes with its own crew!).

Having my sensible, everyday driver, money head on, the Jaguar F-Type should be up there! Obviously the V8 SVR model for the pops,bangs, bells and whistles. For sound and performance, it rivals any two-seater in my opinion and takes Jaguar far, far away from the “old man” image.

FAVOURITE MOTORSPORT?
Formula 1 has always been a big passion of mine. The technology involved grabbed my attention at a young age. The skill and fitness required to drive those cars is unbelievable. I’m still shocked when people claim that “anyone can do it, it’s easy!”. Those people tend to be the seat grabbers when I drive a little fruitier than usual, surprising hey! Dan may be one of those people, but he enjoys going sideways in corners rather than getting there super-fast.

WHY DO YOU LOVE DRIVING?
Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy driving?! I struggle to understand why the richest of society employ chauffeurs. Just imagine it, a sunny Sunday morning, with no traffic on a twisty country road, with a piping hot V8 or V12 (whichever takes your fancy). Do you know what that gives you? Freedom. I am sure there isn’t a single driver in this country that hasn’t felt it. The feeling of pure escapism when you’re behind the wheel & can just lose yourself. I’m even sure my 2-year-old is already catching the car bug, she’s after an electric car already! Best get saving up.

WHAT ANNOYS YOUT THE MOST ABOUT DRIVING?
How long have you got? I’ll keep it short then. My biggest hate is those branded as “queue darters”. It’s for those individuals on the motorway that seem to believe they need to get somewhere faster than you by swapping lanes repeatedly. Then there’s middle lane hoggers, they are on another planet altogether. I wouldn’t say I have road rage, but boy do they get my blood boiling. Finally, what about drivers that do 35 in a 50 and then suddenly start doing 35 in a 30, are you serious?

OTHER INTERESTS (EXCEPT CARS)?
After having my first-born baby girl (she’s now 2), my life has turned upside down for the better. However, I wouldn’t change it for anything else. In all fairness, my cars were still heavily involved in getting her to sleep (I’m sure every parent would agree). So, in all honesty, your best buying a car you’ll enjoy to drive when having children as you’ll be in the car for many years.

I like to see myself as a practical man of the house. I’ve had my fair share of DIY, including re-tiling a floor and creating my own outdoor man cave. Strangely I’ve never had a go at car DIY. That could soon change, if my wife lets me.

My 2 dogs keep me active, getting me up at stupid o’clock for walkies. The dogs never seem to leave our sides and therefore holidays are usually restricted to the UK. Given the dogs & a little one, a car therefore needs to be practical for everyday life, whilst keeping the fun aspect for Daddy.