You'd have thought the former face of Formula 1 on the BBC would drive something racy like a Ferrari or Lamborghini. It turns out he learnt to drive in a Pistachio Green VW Polo, crashed a British Racing Green MGF and now pilots a rather sedate BMW X5 around the streets of South London.
> But it does turn out the sporty brainbox knows a thing or two about motors and in our casual chat below, he reveals everything from the most stupid thing he has ever done in a car to his dream ride.
We miss Jake's banter with Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard on the Beeb but it's good to know he still holds a place in his heart for the humble automobile.
Read the interview below...
What was the first car you ever owned?
The first car I ever drove was my Mum's Pistachio Green VW Polo. I didn't care about the colour at the time, the car stood for freedom for a lad growing up down a country lane. I was unlucky that my Mum taught at my school, but lucky that it meant I could drive us both to school every day with L-plates on when I was a learner. It sped up my skills hugely. The first car I ever bought was a British Racing Green, P-reg MGF. I paid about £6,000 and bought it from an old man in Suffolk. To this day, buying that car remains the most satisfying thing I have ever done. Having dreamed of owning an MGF, and having saved every penny myself, the sense of achievement was huge.
She was known as 'The Beast', although a 1.6-litre Rover engine hardly qualifies it to be an actual beast. My love affair with it ended in a field just outside Norwich. I learned my lesson that day.
How many attempts did it take you to pass your test?
I was lucky that my dad booked my driving test and got his dates wrong. He booked it far too soon, and the instructor was certain I wouldn't pass. However, after just 12 lessons I passed with only 2 minor faults. Result!
What did your Dad drive?
He always owned an estate car, but various different types. The first I recall was a golden Toyota Corolla, which was eventually swapped for a Toyota Carina, then we went upmarket. Dad actually bought a new car - a black Renault Savanna Estate, and to an 11-year-old boy, it looked like Knight Rider.
Was it cool or embarrassing?
They were all rather embarrassing, but pretty vital when you had a family of three kids and a dog. We always drove on family holidays, always to the South of France, and always in convoy with some friends of ours. My memories of those holidays are golden, warm, happy times. Tents, warm croissants, endless days on the beach and Chris Rea on the stereo.
What was the first car you ever lusted after?
I have always, and still to this day, lust after owning an Aston Martin. To me, they retain the glamour of old school motoring, yet with a modern, British twist, and incredible performance to boot. If it's good enough for James Bond, it's more than good enough for me. I've managed to test-drive a few for my weekly motoring column, and it's only made me want one more.
What was the first roadtrip you ever went on?
It was with my best mate when we were youngsters. His Dad had a few quid and he bought a Triumph Spitfire. Blue, fast, loud, and rather dangerous in the hands of two excited 18 year-olds. For about three summers we went everywhere in that car.
Can you talk us through your current car collection?
I'm currently Mr Sensible now we have a 10-month-old daughter, Florence. We have two cars. My wife Harriet drives a BMW X1; she demanded a 4x4 after pirouetting down a hill in the snow a couple of years ago. I drive the new BMW X5 and it is incredible. The car is now on a par with the Range Rover and is beautiful to drive.
If money were no object, what car would you buy?
I'd buy an Aston Martin DB5. It was the first ever James Bond car, it's an incredible piece of motoring history, but sadly it's a little out of my price range.
Do you own a clean licence?
Yep, considering how many speed traps, CCTV cameras and traffic officers that are ready to catch out motorists these days, it's a wonder anyone has a clean licence. Millions of pounds a year is generated from CCTV cameras catching out drivers for minor misdemeanours and I hate drivers being used to line the pockets of our cash-strapped councils.
What is the most stupid thing you have done in a car?
Probably when Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari F1 driver was driving me round the legendary Maranello test track in Italy and I made the error of holding onto the seat around a particularly fast corner. I think he took offence to me doubting his skills, and proceeded to go even faster, with his eyes closed for a brief moment... then said "you are quite safe with me!"
With thanks to Shell V-Power Nitro+