Our new columnist, Jane Speechley tells us about her history with cars and why she bought a sports car.

THERE ARE TWO early experiences that have particularly shaped my attitude towards cars.

To begin with, there was my first car, which is now (sentimentally) referred to as the Hyundai Deathtrap. A well-priced Excel hatchback from a seemingly well-established dealership, I thought I was making a sensible choice. A little young and naïve, I didn’t notice the paint colour inside the engine bay was different to the exterior. Or that the white smoke coming from the exhaust wasn’t just due to the cold weather. Yes, yes, I know – did I mention I was young and naïve? Kitted out with every gaudy accessory I could find, it was a blast for all three months it lasted before falling to pieces.

(Fortunately, the story has a happy ending, and also serves as a warning not to cross me. It took me seven years and countless court appearances, but I did finally get my money back. Plus interest.)

The second experience was a short while later, when I was shopping for my next car. Still smarting from that first lesson, you can imagine how this conversation with a used car dealer went down:

Me to the dealer: I really just need a small car, fairly late model, good fuel economy …

Dealer: *tries to sell me enormous, older model family station-wagon that’s virtually grown roots on the lot*

Me: Um, well, no, that’s way out of my price range …

Dealer: But you’re getting a loan aren’t you? What difference is a few thousand dollars going to make?

Me: … Yeah. It’s really not what I’m looking for.

Dealer: But look what a pretty colour it is! Don’t you love the pretty colour?

Me: … *turns slowly and walks away*

I wish I was joking.

These early experiences scarred – I mean, left me – with a strong desire to help people make informed choices about cars, including finding the right fit for their lifestyle. As we all know, a car is probably the second biggest financial commitment you’ll make. It should either be a sensible choice, or a deliberately *not* sensible choice.

But just as much, I understand how your choice of car – including how safe and comfortable it is – can really impact upon the quality of your day-to-day life. I cherish the convenience of a reliable car, and I live for long road trips. So I know what a joy the right car can be.

Fortunately, these experiences were followed by a series of great little cars. A Mazda 121 (yes, the bubble), Peugeot 306, Honda Jazz, and a motorbike phase thrown in there for good measure.

You can see the pattern here though, right? All small cars, hatchbacks, very sensible choices. So when my beloved Jazz was written off in an unfortunate rear-ender, I decided it was a time to buy a slightly less sensible car. While I was still slightly young enough to pull it off.

Enter the Toyota 86. I’d seen it at the Sydney Motor Show previously, and the more I learned about it, the more I liked it. When it came time to buy, I was tossing up between the 86 and the Hyundai Veloster. Loved the interior of the Veloster, but it was still a (hot) hatch – whereas, to me, the 86 has the heart of a real sports car. It’s a heck of a lot of fun to drive, but importantly, enough environmental credibility and value to soothe my conscience and my bank account.

Decision made, it had to be the 86 GTS, and Tornado Grey for me – if you squint your eyes enough, she looks like an Aston Martin. She arrived in August 2013, and I’ve never looked back. Except, you know, at other cars in the rear view mirror 😉

Driving a sportscar says a lot about you (apparently), and I’ve learned over the past three years that it comes with a lot of responsibility. But those are subjects for another column!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your story ideas, and what you’d like us to write about.

Until next time,



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About Author

Jane Speechley

Jane Speechley is an experienced freelance writer whose natural curiosity means she knows enough about cars to hold a decent conversation. While happily admitting her Toyota 86 makes promises her street driving can’t quite keep, she’s relishing the opportunity to review some of Australia’s most interesting new vehicles from an ‘everyperson’ perspective. She’s on a mission to understand and explain how all those features and gadgets actually impact upon your driving experience. http://www.charismaticcommunications.com.au


  1. Hi Jane, …I enjoyed reading your story, and I love your 86….I probably won’t buy one (getting on a bit) ..but it’s a good looking car, and nice to see someone enjoying their driving life…I have done for many years, from Chevs to Minis …(and bikes) ..and lots inbetween…look forward to reading more as it comes along.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Harry. Yes, I’ve loved driving from the get-go, and very excited to be writing more for Practical Motoring. The 86 is a heck of a lot of fun though, and you’re never too old for that!


  2. Hi Jane,
    The new Fiat Abarth 124 Spider has just arrived in the showrooms. From what I see and read I am impressed with this Fiat. It has a 1.4 litre turbo, whilst it’s sibling the Mazda MX-5 has 1.5 and 2.0 litre normally aspirated engines. It would be great if you can review the Fiat Abarth 124 alongside the 2.0 litre MX-5 and the Toyota 86 (especially when the updated one arrives, which should be soon). Your thoughts would be appreciated considering that your daily driver is an 86. Also, the comparison can be done with Robert Pepper whom is also very familiar with the 86.
    All the best.

    1. Robert beat me to it! I’ve always had a lot of time for the Mazdas, no less the MX-5 – probably just a little too small and low for me this time around. I haven’t driven a Spider yet though, talk about a classic sports car – definitely one to tick off the list soon …

    1. Watched it and loved it, McF1! Huge field, and great fun watching them skip all over the road. Really nice complement to the main event, and what a show that was this year as well …

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