Apart from cooking, one of James’s greatest passions is cars, and when Regtransfers.co.uk visited him at his home near Winchester, James showed us part of his esoteric collection of vehicles. In addition to his Audi RS4, James’s garage contains a couple of very nice motorcycles, a vintage Chevrolet Corvette complete with white-walls, a Lotus 340R and a brace of retired Formula 1 racing cars. He owns others, but we really didn’t want to take up too much of his time browsing cars when the real reason for the visit was to deliver his new “chef” registration number, 6 HEF, and to interview him and take some photographs.
“I’ve always loved cars. I work to buy cars. Other people might buy property or something, but when I finish at the end of the year I’d like to buy myself a new car,” he told us. “The number plate looks really good! I already have one “chef” plate, C8 HEF, but this one is much better. It will look great on the car… Although I’ve not completely decided which one to put it on yet!”
In 2007, James joined the The Mail on Sunday as a columnist for the Live magazine. His topic? Cars, of course. It’s obviously hard work, driving and reporting on a range of vehicles including Subarus, Bentleys, Porsches and the mighty Mercedes C63 AMG, but someone has to do it. And when he tires of the cars, James can always try out the occasional 1000cc motorcycle, just for a bit of variety.
There are times when James’s obsession with cars combines with that competitive streak we saw in Strictly Come Dancing. In May 2008 he took his 1948 Maserati A6GCS to Italy to take part in the legendary Mille Miglia road race. No ‘Sunday drive’, this: Enzo Ferrari himself described the Mille Miglia as “the world’s greatest road race”. Although it has changed from the pre-1958 version, in which accidents claimed several lives, to a rally-style endurance event focusing on timing more than simple speed, the Mille Miglia is still a spectacular parade of classic vehicles. It is a natural destination for James Martin and his co-driver, Sarah Bennett-Baggs.
With all this enthusiasm for things on wheels, it seems that James’s passion is divided between cars and his career as a chef. The appeal of all those terrific vehicles must be hard to resist, but the Saturday Kitchen television audience will be keeping its collective fingers crossed that James can still find time to do some cooking.
Story: Rick Cadger Interview: Angela Banh Photography: Stan Thompson
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