DRIVE OF MY LIFE: Sheffield-based legal assistant Jamie Brown

Jamie Brown and his car.
Jamie Brown and his car.

His grandad and dad are both lawyers - and though at 23 Jamie Brown is a legal assistant at Wosskow Brown in Attercliffe, he almost became a mechanic.

After completing a course a garage job fell through so he took a role at his dad’s firm, and never looked back.

I couldn’t wait to learn to drive - I had my first lesson on my 17th birthday.

But after a month my sessions had to grind to a halt - I got picked to be captain of the Cycle Speedway England Youth Team, a sport I’d been in for seven years. It meant six weeks in Australia for the world championships. We came second but I was desperate to get back home to my driving lessons!

I passed first time months later. I bought an 11-year-old Renault Clio for £500 - the insurance cost five times that, but thankfully my parents paid for it.

It broke down on me before I’d even got it home. I got to the steep hill at Gleadless Town End, the traffic stopped so I pulled on the handbrake - and the cable snapped! The car rolled backwards but I managed to find clutch control and limped nervously home.

Jamie Brown, right, during his racing days.

Jamie Brown, right, during his racing days.

The guy I’d bought it from offered to sort it immediately and I got the car back two days later, just in time to drive to Leicester with a friend to go cycling. We folded our bikes into the boot and headed for my first ever motorway drive.

I was pretty nervous when I got on at Junction 30, but by Junction 29 I felt confident enough to overtake two lorries. I moved into the fast lane, put my foot down - and heard another snap. The accelerator pedal dropped to the floor and the car slowed to a crawl.

I was terrified, put my hazard lights on, managed to get to the hard shoulder and called my rescue service - my dad, who was in the middle of a meeting. Mum sorted it though. She added me to the family RAC membership.

The car got towed off the motorway for an emergency repair. The throttle cable had snapped. It got reconnected with a jubilee clip. A workman’s glove was Sellotaped to the floor beneath the accelerator pedal to prevent me from putting my foot to the floor again and I drove on to Leicester.

Once there, though, I couldn’t resist giving the car some revs to show off to a mate. And the cable snapped again. The RAC came out and put another clip on the cable. I got it fixed properly the next day.

In my first week on the road I’d had three breakdowns.

It was the start of many issues with that car. It ground to a halt on Ponds Forge roundabout, the exhaust fell off outside school, then the locks broke and school mates found it funny to move it to obscure parking places.

I also had a near crash. I was driving to sixth form with two girls and a mate. We were going slowly downhill in snow on Whitelow Lane in Dore when I felt the car sliding and realised I couldn’t stop it. We were heading straight for a house. My dad had told me never to brake hard on ice. I went into second gear, yanked at the handbrake and managed to do a spectacular handbrake turn. The car spun twice and stopped on a tiny patch of grass feet from the house.

A year later I bought a 2008 Corsa, which never broke down in three years. I never had an accident in it either - but the car got written off with my girlfriend at the wheel. It wasn’t her fault. A driver ran a red light and hit her side-on at 50mph. I’d recommend Corsas - she got out with only whiplash.

Now I drive an Audi A3 I have on a three-year lease. The payments over three years are only what I’d lose on the car’s depreciation. It’s not all glamour, though; most days I drive the company’s white Vauxhall box van!