In the same year that saw the release of Mad Max, Gary Numan’s seminal hit Cars and The Dukes of Hazzard, Jonny Smith was born in Taunton and driven home from hospital in the same Hillman Avenger estate he would later learn to drive in.
Growing up in a ‘mend and make do’ household, Jonny and his older brother found, restored and modified (complete with vacuum cleaner hose side-exit exhaust…) a vintage ex-funfair dodgem go-kart together. Jonny always insisted on driving, obviously. Both lads helped their civil engineer Dad keep the obsolete Hillman family car running way before the convenience of the internet.
Weekends were spent either sniffing out parts in backwater scrapyards, building ridiculous bike jumps or mowing neighbour’s lawns to earn enough cash to first buy a Tamiya radio controlled Beetle model, and later his first real car – also a Volkswagen Beetle. Some 21 years later he still owns the latter.
Never without a weekend job, Jonny grafted hard in garden centres, supermarket cafes, aquarium shops and even decorated cakes to fund his obsessions of classic field motorbikes, tropical fish tanks, photography and a certain light blue 1967 Beetle…
At college Jonny honed his skills in A-level English creative writing, art and media studies, where he secured work experience at Volksworld magazine. That week in the Link House Media Croydon office concreted his aspiration to work in the printed automotive media.
Jonny’s journey as an award winning motoring journalist began in 1998, when he was offered a staff writer position on a VW magazine mid-way through a dull university degree. The internet was in its infancy, the magazine trade was booming and the opportunities to travel and create published content never felt stale.