Jodie Kidd may be a big name, but most people will have seen her on the catwalk or in the kitchen on Celebrity Masterchef. However, this supermodel is also a huge petrolhead – one with a particular passion for classic cars following her stint co-presenting the Classic Car Show with Quentin Willson.
> Those with a long memory will remember than she knocked Jamiroquai front man Jay Kay off the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car leader board when she took to the Top Gear track – but this is neither the start nor the end of Jodie's love for cars, as she explained when we caught up with her for a quick chat.
How did you get into cars?
Probably when I participated in the Gumball Rally. I drove from New York to LA with a couple of friends which was amazing. And then I flew back for a UK event and was put on a table with Jeremy Clarkson.
So I was sitting there with Jeremy and I said "Oh my god, I've just done this rally...there were amazing cars like F40s and Koenigseggs," and he said "Oh you love cars? Why don't you come and do my show?" A couple of months later I went round their track doing Star in a Reasonably Priced Car and went straight to the top. Oh crikey I loved it!
What was your first car?
I didn't really start driving until my early 20s. At 15 I started modelling, I moved to London and basically never needed to drive. My first car was a very unglamorous mk1 VW Polo. This is when I was 14...15. I was brought up in the countryside and she was more of a farm vehicle, so that's how I used to drive, going up and down the drive doing bunny hops.
Did you have an affectionate name for your first car?
She was called Doris. I just name my cars, I don't know why. I just did the Mille Miglia in a beautiful Jaguar XK120 and her name was Betsy.
How many attempts did it take you to pass your test?
Two. I failed for speeding on the first one. I was slightly heavy right footed...
That sounds like good practice for the Gumball Rally...
Yeah...not that we speed a lot on the Gumball Rally! Second time around I passed my driving test all fine.
What was the first road trip you ever went on?
Well we used to always do family trips skiing. So I remember once a year we used to tear across France for a skiing holiday, so I remember long, wonderful road trips across France.
Do you have an ultimate rally or road trip?
The Mille Miglia was the ultimate. The most incredible experience I've ever had. I was very lucky to be part of the Jag team.
So you'd do it again?
I would do it tomorrow.
What did your parents drive?
Dad had some amazing cars before I was born; he had some E-Types, Porsches. I remember him being a mad fan of BMWs. He had a silver 7 Series that I completely fell in love with as a little girl. I used to go to sleep on the parcel shelf whenever we were coming back from events or going to see friends.
One day he said, "We're selling the 7 Series but we'll hopefully get another one". I just loved this car so much, so I woke up really early in the morning knowing that the car was going to be sold and went down to sleep in it. I said, "Dad we can't, if you're going to sell the car you're going to have to sell me too".
I was absolutely devastated. Anyway I got taken out of the car and sent to school and when I came back it was gone. That was my first real affection for a car, which I now know so well because I fall in love with cars, especially classic cars that I've been driving; the uniqueness, the characters, their quirkiness, all these amazing things that these wonderful classics have. It's not like getting in a modern car where you just point, shoot, off you go. The characters, the history, everything about a classic car is just extraordinary.
What do you drive day to day?
Day to day I have a Jaguar F-Type. The family car is a Volkswagen Touareg and our farm car which is a 1980s Land Rover Defender, which is just a workhorse – my favourite car.
Do you have any classics?
I'm now looking. After being introduced into the classic world doing the Classic Car Show, I've completely fallen in love with classics, so I really want an E-Type before prices go so astronomically huge, but also I'm looking at a Mercedes 280 Pagoda SL. They're just stunning and completely lovely cars that you can use everyday.
So what are you like with spanners, if you're considering classics?
I'm getting there. The thing is with modern cars that everything is so computerised. But now I've been introduced to the world of classics, you can actually start to really understand the engines and how it all works. When you open the bonnet of a new car you haven't got a hope in hell. It's far too high tech for me nowadays. But I know pretty much how my Land Rover works. I've had many a starter motor die and you have to whack it with a spanner to get it started.
Do you have a clean driving licence?
I do...can you believe it!? It's great fun doing these rallies and I'm lucky enough to get to tracks, so you can go and have a blast around, but when I'm driving on public roads, I'm a very very – touch wood – safe driver.