StopGear: Toby Talbot

Whether you like it or not, the things we buy can say a lot about us (or, at the very least, can be used by others to make assumptions). And there’s perhaps no item more symbolic of an owner’s personality than the car they drive. Creative types seem pretty keen on interesting cars. So, with all the switcheroos in the automotive space at the moment, we thought it was an opportune time to launch a new section on StopPress that aims to showcase some of the vehicular proclivities of those working in the marketing, advertising and media sectors (and will presumably cement the general public’s view that this industry is infested with rich wankers). Every few weeks we’ll be asking someone in the biz to tell us about their steed and first up is TBWA\’s chief creative officer Toby Talbot and his Volvo P1800. 

While some at the upper levels of business drive cars that might make them seem one with the people (or, in the world of advertising, cars they are forced to drive because they work on a particular brand), Talbot says he often drives the car to work (eagle-eyed readers may notice that’s not actually Talbot’s head in the picture. It’s Roger Moore, who drove a P1800 in The Saint). 

“They’re very driveable cars. But I also take the ferry to help balance out my wankerishness,” he says. 

That driveability is evidenced by the fact that a Volvo P1800 has the world record for highest mileage for an originally owned car, with a man by the name of Irv Gordon clocking over three million on the Seward Highway in Alaska this year (Volvo even created a campaign to mark his achievements). Although in his experience, they can also be quite temperamental, as he recently broke down on the way to Matakana and found himself on the hard shoulder, waiting to be rescued as cars drove past and presumably laughed at his expense. 

Talbot got the car in the UK when he was working at RKCR/Y&R. His dad, who recently passed away, also used to do up cars and he was a big fan of the P1800. So he handed it over to a renowned restoration expert (and mate of Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler). 

“It was a long painstaking process,” he says. “It was a ground-up restoration and it took 16 months.”

He says the car is a lot more commonplace in Europe than it is over here, although he has made a friend in the form of a partner at Price Waterhouse and fellow Devonport resident who also has one.

“There are one or two around,” he says.

While Volvos are typically thought of as being safe, boxy and Swedish, this model is something of an anomaly. For years, Volvo insisted that it was an Italian design, but, according to Wikipedia, it admitted in 2009 that it was actually designed by the project director’s son, Pelle Petterson, who worked at Italian design firm Pietro Frua at the time.

Talbot also has a restored 1973 VW Combi, which he regularly takes away with his wife. 

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