Ultimate European road trip
Most of us will have heard tales originating from road trips but Ralph Burrell's story is really quite something.
Originally from Darlington, England and now residing at Totara, just south of Oamaru, Mr Burrell had his heart set on acquiring a diesel 2013 Volvo V40 R-design and went to great lengths to get it.
"It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing but I did want to replace the old one. You can't get the R-design in New Zealand in diesel, they only bring it in in petrol.
"I wanted a specific colour, blue, but they said they only do that in petrol here," Mr Burrell says.
About to embark on an overseas trip, Mr Burrell figured it was his best chance to get hold of the vehicle he yearned for.
"We were going back to England on holiday and I rang up Volvo UK. I said can I get a diesel in blue and they said yes, that's no problem. I ordered one and said I would pick it up from the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden."
Volvo picked up Mr Burrell and his wife, Margaret, from the airport and put them up in a hotel for the night, before driving them to the factory the next day.
After taking a tour of the Volvo factory, Mr Burrell drove his new V40 out the gates.
That's when the fun began.
After initially driving on the wrong side of the road then getting lost looking for the right way to Demark on their way to Germany, he enlisted the help of the first English-speaking person he came across; a young man on roller blades.
"He jumped in the back of the car and eventually got us on the right road. We went down through Sweden, down to Denmark, then jumped on the ferry to Germany."
He says driving through Germany was quite an experience, though not as scary as he thought it might be.
"There was no-one going like the missiles we would have expected ... we did get up to 215kmh at one stage, I think my wife was quite nervous."
His favourite part of the drive was through Holland, a country he says has the smoothest roads he's experienced.
Mr Burrell arrived back in the country several weeks ago, while his V40, which had 4500 kilometres added to it's clock in two weeks, arrived in Dunedin around a fortnight ago, after being shipped in a container from England.
He says the V40, like all Volvo models, is a marvellous car to travel in.
"It's a very comfortable car ... I just like them for the comfort, that's what they're all about."
Mr Burrell should know, after owning around a dozen different models in the past, including two trucks. He bought his first one when he was 18 or 19 after being particularly impressed by a mate's Volvo decades ago.
As far as the V40's features go, there's one that's particularly impressive and most would not have heard of.
"It's got air bags that come out of the bonnet that saves pedestrians, the bonnet sort of lifts up and they come out."
Another feature, named city safety, detects if the car is about to run into a vehicle and brakes automatically to avoid a collision. It is active up to 50km/h.
Other features include cruise control and a computer that brings up travel statistics including fuel consumption, while the V40 is powered by a 2.0 engine.
Mr Burrell says it "drives like a dream" on the open road. He plans to hold on to it for some time.
"I thought if I get it now I have got it. Why wait until you're retired? I want to enjoy it now."
SOUTH CANTERBURY HERALD
- © Fairfax NZ News