My First Car – By Pierre van Hooijdonk

I passed my test in 1987 or 1988. I took 16 or 17 lessons and was delighted to do it first time. I took all of my lessons in my home town of Steenbergen, small town in the Netherlands.

It was an exciting period to be given a licence to drive and I wanted to be independent as quickly as possible. I arranged for a loan and then went out and bought a Ford Escort XR3, it was a nice shade of red and was powerful. Maybe I was trying to be a ‘boy racer’ back then!

It cost me around 17,000 guilders, which was around £6,500. I thoroughly enjoyed my car and kept it for three or four years.

But I never got into shopping for cars and upgrading through my own choice.

I then carved out a career in professional football and at clubs such as Celtic, Feyenoord, Nottingham Forest and Benifica we were given company cars. So, I’ve been fortunate enough to drive around on many makes and models, from Honda to BMW, Mazda to Mercedes.

When my professional career ended a decade or so ago, I had to get my own car for the first time in more than 15 years.

I had a friend who was a car dealer. He worked for Porsche and I asked him for a recommendation. I told him nothing fancy, but with plenty of legroom for myself and the passengers. So, that ruled out a Porsche!

He told me to go for an Audi and I bought a lovely Audi S8. It was one year old. I kept it for many years and it was so reliable.

I upgraded it recently and bought another S8, again it was one year old.

I enjoy my car, and love nothing better than going for a drive when the weather is nice and listening to some good music. It helps me clear my head, focus on what I have to do in the days and weeks ahead. I find driving to be very soothing and not stressful. I like to think I am a respectful driver and mindful of others on the road because that is so important for safety on the roads.

Number of Cars Owned: In the region of 18, most of them company cars from football clubs.

Favourite Car Owned: I really enjoy my current vehicle, Audi S8.

Dream Car: I’ve never been one for treating myself to cars, so I do not pay too much attention. I’d let my son decide and he’d maybe go for a sporty Porsche.

Intelligent Car Leasing Launches New Online Van Leasing Division

Personal contract hire and small business leasing specialist, Intelligent Car Leasing (ICL), has launched a new online van leasing division, Intelligent Van Leasing
(IVL), to provide access to highly competitive leasing deals for light commercial vehicle users.

ICL, which is headquartered in Glasgow, currently provides new car finance solutions for private customers, SMEs and medium-sized businesses through a network of preferred funders.

The company has now decided to expand into the van market following its success in the new car arena, employing the same successful online business footprint.

The new van division will be aimed at one-man-band operators and small businesses up to medium sized fleets, offering online contract hire, finance and business leasing solutions.

It is owned by the same shareholders behind the highly successful leasing and fleet management specialist, Fleet Alliance, which has over 26,000 vehicles under management, although it is operated completely separately.

IVL Sales Manager, Marc Cooper, said: ”We have witnessed a dramatic increase in personal contract hire in recent years which has been great news for us here at Intelligent Car Leasing.

“This has now become a major online service that new car buyers use to acquire new cars and we have seen significant growth in the personal and small business leasing space.

”However, we were increasingly being asked by business customers if we could provide light commercial vehicles at the same competitive rates as we provide new cars. It then seemed a logical extension of the business to establish our new Intelligent Van Leasing division.”

Cooper said that a key factor in the expanding personal and small business contract hire and leasing market had been the development of online web-based products and solutions, such that a growing percentage of buyers now preferred the ease of transacting electronically.

“To be able to meet this new kind of market demand, we have needed to have a very strong web presence as so much personal and small business leasing these days is conducted online.

“Today, buyers tend to have carried out much of their research beforehand online, and expect to be able to trade online as well. Key drivers are keen and competitive pricing and high service levels, which is exactly what we provide them.

“The new van trading arm will employ exactly the same business disciplines and approach to provide a ready access to the many excellent vans currently available and the new launches to come during 2018,” he said.

My First Car – By Alan Rough

First of all, I have to say, I can’t believe it’s been 45 years since I passed my driving test. Honestly, when I think about that length of time…….it has just flown in. From memory, I think I had around 25 lessons and passed my test in 1973. I was playing for Partick Thistle at the time.

Back then it wasn’t unusual for the players to use public transport. I would often get two buses to training to Maryhill every morning. Or get into town, and one of the players might pick up there. So, when I passed my test, I loved the freedom it gave me and also allowed me an extra half an hour in my bed every morning as I just jumped in my car rather than buses and trains.

I passed my test in a Ford Fiesta. But my first car was a Sunbeam Rapier. I think it was a white one. I bought it second hand from a  car dealer in Glasgow, and it cost me around £800. That was a decent sum to spend back then and it was money put to good use, for sure.

I volunteered to pick a couple of the lads up every day and take them in for training. The players loved my car.

I kept the Sunbeam for nearly three years and then got a new one. I can’t quite remember but I would have been moving towards my curly perm by that stage, so maybe I got a new car with a higher ceiling in it to cope with my hair!

I still enjoy having a nice car, and it’s great just to go for long drives in the country, switch off the engine and relax. I’m probably not the most patient of drivers, so as long as there are no traffic jams, I’m happy to drive anywhere.

Number of Cars Owned: I would say more than 22 but less than 27.

Favourite Car Owned: I thoroughly enjoyed my BMW X5.

Dream Car: I would definitely love a Rolls Royce convertible. I can just picture myself driving around Glasgow in one of them!

Winter Vehicle Survival Kit

The winter months bring with them hazardous driving conditions, an increased risk of breakdowns and generally slower journey times. Therefore, it’s essential to make preparations before going out on the roads, see our handy infographic below to keep you right:

Winter Driving Tips

Infographic transcription (for low data connections):

Snow and ice doesn’t always need to be hell on the roads – our survival guide could help you keep safe through the wintery conditions.

Arm yourself with the right kit and it will make a big difference if you do get stuck. There is nothing worse than getting caught short!

• A fully charged mobile phone
• An in-car phone charger or power pack
• Snacks – chocolate or cereal bars
• A blanket, rug or sleeping bag
• A flask of hot drink
• Torch and batteries
• Shovel
• Grit or Salt
• Ice scraper and de-icer
• Extra screenwash
• A warm winter coat
• Sturdy footwear
• First aid kit
• Sat-nav for a diverted journey

My First Car – By Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink


I have to be honest and say I felt I should never have passed my driving test when I sat it in Holland more than 20 years ago. I was a little bot erratic and a little bit too keen to put my foot down on the accelerator. I could feel the assessor’s eyes really on me.

But when we got back to the Driving Centre he told I had passed. To say I was taken aback is an understatement. I really thought he was going to ‘Fail’ me. However, there I was, as an 18-year-old, being given my independence on the roads. I had 21 or 22 lessons and I was good to go.

I was playing for FC Twente Enschede at that time. I spoke to a leasing company with connections to the club and got myself a brand new Citroen AX. It was a beautiful dark green colour, extremely pleasant on the eye.

It had spoiler on the back and I quickly got a music centre system fitted into the boot. It meant I had no room for any shopping bags in the boot but that didn’t bother me. The priority was being able to play my music. At that time I probably would have had House Music and Oasis as my choices. Hey, you are only young once!

I knew I was very lucky to have such a nice car at my age and I treated it well. I suppose it was my pride and joy. Every teenager dreams of having a car and when you get one you don’t want to waste a moment. I was out driving at every opportunity and volunteering to pick up my friends and team-mates, whether it was to go to work or out for a bite to eat.

As time has gone on, my fondness for cars has remained and I’ve been very lucky to have been able to treat myself to some lovely cars down the years.

Sometimes I have had cars given to me for use by the various football clubs I have played for. I had a couple of nice ones when I was at Celtic. Glasgow is a great city and I spent some of the happiest years of my career at Celtic. I still love coming back to visit.

Number of Cars Owned: Between 15 and 18.

Favourite Car Owned: It has to be the Panamera Porsche. I had it during my time playing in Austria and on my return to Holland

Dream Car: That is an easy one for me to answer. It has to be the Bentley Continental GT.

My First Car – By Paul Hartley

Some of the best memories from my life come from my first car, a wee Mini Metro. It was a nice colour of red and I bought it for £400 back in 1994.

I was playing for Hamilton Accies at the time and was 17-years-old. It took me two attempts to pass my driving test but the feeling of when the examiner told me I was good to go was as good as scoring a goal.

I didn’t waste any time getting down the garage and buying a car. The Metro was only a 1litre engine but I was whizzing around the streets of Hamilton, delighted at having my own set of wheels.

The car had a cassette deck in it and it was brilliant being able to select your own music and back then I was listening to Beautiful South. I was really into their music and before that when they first came onto the scene as The Housemartins.

It was also good having a car because it meant I could take my mum to the supermarket and help her get the weekly shop in for the family. It’s always been important to me to help my mum whenever possible because she was great with me as a young boy. And still is to this day.

Thankfully, though, because I lived just two minutes away from the Accies ground, I didn’t need to pick up any of the boys and take them to training. Two or three of the lads would be going here, there and everywhere and it would add an hour onto their day. The lads knew there was no point in asking me but I always helped out when I was needed. It’s important to always be a team player.

Number of cars owned: 18 – 20

Favourite Car Owned: Can’t split the BMW X5 and the Audi Q7

Dream Car: Would have to be the Bentley Jeep. But that definitely would be in my wildest dreams. If you ever see me driving one of them then you’ll know I’ve scooped the lottery!

Is Britain Ready For Driverless Cars? New Research Says No.

If you follow any sort of motoring or lifestyle columns then it’s very hard to not read about driverless cars. It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of a car that drives itself was contained to the realm of science fiction. Now there are road-legal cars that don’t need human control in order to get from A to B being tested in live traffic all over the world.

Therefore it’s no wonder that this new and exciting technology is getting a lot of press coverage. However, just because people are interested in the development of autonomous vehicles, it doesn’t mean they’d actually adopt them in practice.

Having looked around Intelligent Car Leasing found few studies looking into the likely adoption/acceptance rates of self-driving vehicles, and none looking only at the UK market. So we decided to conduct our own study to see what Britain’s attitude towards driverless cars really is.

The results show a real lack of confidence and trust in self-driving vehicles, you can see a full write up of the study here with responses, analysis and the implications for car manufacturers –

It’s likely a long way away before we see a noticeable amount of autonomous vehicles on the road, if ever! So have a read of the results, muse things over and in the meantime enjoy driving (while you can still do it yourself).

My First Car – By Simon Donnelly

WHEN I was a teenager all I wanted to do was pass my driving test. After I joined Celtic at 17, I had two aims – to get into the first team squad and get my licence.

I sat my test when I was 19 and had already bought my car. Talk about being confident! It was a brand new Volkswagen Golf. Right out of the wrapper. It was a lovely shade of green and it was gleaming.

All I had to do was pass my test. Well, I don’t need to tell you, I failed.

But I still went to the garage right after the Examiner broke the bombshell news to me. I took my mum me and my ‘L’ plates and she had to sit in the passenger seat as I drove away. It only made me more determined than ever to get behind the wheel without a ‘babysitter’ and I passed the second time.

It was a wonderful time in my life and having the freedom to get around without relying on others is bliss. I was able to drive down to my grandparents in Ayrshire on a regular basis and that gave me great pleasure.

But I wasn’t keen on getting it dirty and that’s when the arguments and ducking and diving would start every day at training when we were in the reserves at Celtic. We would get changed at Parkhead and then drive to Barrowfield, about half a mile along London Road.

You’ve no idea the lengths some of us would go to not to be the one to drive and have four passengers with muddy football boots and dirty training gear on. But we took out turn – some more than others! The car always needed a full wash and scrub by the end of the week.

I enjoyed my Golf car and bought three of four more after that. Happy, happy days.

Number of Cars owned: eight or nine

Favourite Car Owned: BMW 5 Series. Very smooth and luxurious.

Dream Car: I’m not really into cars, my wife is keener than me. But I’d have to say a Ferrari. My sons would love being driven around in such style!

My First Car – By Tony Watt

My first car was a Vauxhall Astra, 1.6ltr engine. It was a black one. I think all footballers had Black cars back then and I followed the trend. It was 2011 I bought it for around £5000 and I took it out on a Finance deal.

I was a youth team player at Celtic at the time and I didn’t drive for the first six months I was there. Getting to Celtic’s Training Centre at Lennoxtown every day wasn’t the easiest location to get to and I was determined to pass my driving test and get my first set of wheels. I took about 40 lessons and passed my test first time. I was well chuffed with myself.

The memory of being handed the keys by the car salesman is still fresh in my mind, even though it was six years ago. I got some buzz from it. It was like scoring a goal. I went everywhere in my car and I thought I was the new Lewis Hamilton. Even simple things such as choosing your own CD’s to play was so good.

The car park at Lennoxtown had top of the range Mercedes, BMW and Range Rover and even one or two more extravagant than that, but, in my eyes, nothing could beat my Astra.

It was also good for taking my mum to the supermarket every time I could. Helping her do the shopping and then loading my car up with the groceries gave me a nice feeling of giving something back to her after everything she and my dad had sacrificed for me.

I’ve had many different cars since my Astra, from Volvo to Kia, and I now have an Audi A3 in Black, of course. Some things never change.

Number of Cars owned: Five

Favourite Car owned: Audi A3

Dream Car: I’m not massively into cars but I suppose a nice flashy Ferrari would be good for six months when I hang up my boots. I’d also like a drive in a Formula One car….but I’ll also need to wait until I’ve retired from football to drive that kind of machine.

Why not have a look for your dream car?  We have thousands of lease cars to choose from here –

From Marketing to Malawi

From Marketing to Malawi

Mairi tells us about her experiences as a volunteer in Malawi and how Celtic FC Foundation and Mary’s Meals are helping towards a better future for the children of our third world.

Describe a typical day for you in Malawi?

We would leave our accommodation at 7.30am every morning to travel to the under six centre. It was our job to paint the educational artwork onto the classroom walls, which Mary’s Meals call ‘talking walls’. Without any budget for basic teaching supplies such as text books, jotters and pencils these ‘talking walls’ are both long lasting and absolutely priceless by helping the children learn from an early age and increase their education levels. We would then return to our accommodation at around S.30pm, have dinner and spend our evenings chatting and playing games.

On our last day we made a two-hour journey to a primary school in Chikala to help distribute back-packs to all the children. These are donated to Mary’s Meals from several countries around the world, with many coming from Scotland. Inside each bag was a selection of items (clothing, toys, stationery, and toiletries) which were specifically tailored to the gender and age of the child. It was amazing to witness the joy that this brought to the children.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge out there?

How little the children have. Most kids have one set of clothes that they wore every day and only some of the children had shoes. Unless they have been given handmade toys, they will have no other possessions.

Was there a particularly memorable moment during your trip?

On our last day at each centre we would take the children toys to play with, skipping ropes, bat and ball and hula hoops. We played with the kids for a while before returning back inside to finish painting. A couple of minutes later some of the children appeared at the door to hand back all of the equipment that we had just given them! We thought it was incredible that they stopped playing with it, even though they were having so much fun because they knew it didn’t belong to them.

What did you feel was the most rewarding moment of the experience?

Watching the kids learn from the talking walls at the end of each project.

What have you taken from the experience now that you are home?

The children I met in Malawi were the happiest I have ever met. They do not need material things to make them happy in the way that we do.

Do you feel like the experience has changed you in any way?

It is easy to get sucked into worrying about ‘first world problems’ but I now need to remind myself that there are people in this world whose one worry each day is how they are going to feed their children.