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Example: "the 355 is my favourite Ferrari of all time"
The rapper talks us through buying his schoolboy poster heroes for real
Elliot Gleave – better known as rapper Example – talks us through his car history, and buying his schoolboy bedroom poster heroes for real
I always used to love memorising cars’ engine size, horsepower, years of production, things like that. I’ve always liked lists, and facts and figures. Cars were one of those things other people were into when I was a kid, and to gain people’s acceptance and impress them I started learning all the numbers. It’s the same thing that made me start rapping when I was 11.
My first car was a Vauxhall Corsa, a little red thing. I crashed that into a lamp post a few weeks after passing my test. The first and last thing I’ve ever crashed, bar a Renault F3 car, but that’s another story…
After that I was in an old Mercedes E-Class, my dad’s old car. I then took a break for a bit. I was in debt trying to get my career going. For a while we had an old Royal Mail van, we would sit in the back on the way to gigs and if it braked suddenly an acoustic guitar or bass drum would come and smack you in the face.
Then in 2010 I had my first hit – Kickstarts – and number ones in the charts followed. My dad always said I could only be stupid with cars if I bought a few properties first. So I bought an apartment in Fulham then treated myself to a second-hand Audi RS5 for about 44 grand. It was very exciting compared to anything else I’d had before, but being four-wheel drive it just stuck to the ground and didn’t really scare the life out of me. After trying AMGs and M3s I realised they’re a different kettle of fish.
When the career was going really well, I bought another apartment, and that subconsciously made me think “I can go stupid with cars now,” because my dad would be okay with it. That’s when my love affair with Jaguar F-Types started. I started with a V6 S Convertible, then a V8 R coupe, then the SVR. I think it’s one of the most beautiful cars of the last decade.
I also had a Ferrari 355 Spider. It’s probably my favourite Ferrari of all time, which is why I wanted one. It depends what era you grew up in; some people will have had an F40 or Testarossa poster on their wall. I had a 355.
I had a McLaren F1 poster too, so I’d always wanted a McLaren. The next car I bought was a 650S Spider. I was using it pretty much every day last summer. It’s my pride and joy. I love performing on stage, but I don’t go out to be noticed. But that all changes when I’m out in my yellow Spider. Everyone asks for a wave or a little rev. I don’t wear jewellery of flash watches and I wear tracksuits day to day; my cars are my only flash things.
I currently have the 650S and a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640; that’s unbelievable to drive. I also have a Range Rover Sport. For me that’s the best car in the world for comfort. I can sit in the car and have a meeting. If I’m with my manager listening through a load of new music, it’s better than an office! You’ve got a brilliant sound system and you can stick the heated and massaging seats on.
I might swap into a McLaren 720S in the summer. I just want to enjoy as many cars as possible. I had a Porsche Cayman GT4 for about ten months, and it had one of the best gearboxes I’ve ever experienced. I made a little bit of cash when I sold it. If I can do that on each one, then it’s a hobby that feeds itself.
One day I’d like to own something really stupid like a Ferrari TdF. That would probably be my ultimate. And then if money is no object, I’d love a Jaguar D-Type. But I think I’ve had a pretty good run, I don’t want to talk too much about what could be. I’m 35 and I’ve already owned a lot of cool stuff, I don’t want to sound too spoilt!
I reckon I’ll probably have another year or two of being mad with it, then I’ll have an SUV and maybe one fun car. Then I’ll have to wait until I’m 60 and the kids have grown up and I can get back into it. By then, who knows what we’ll be driving.
Example’s new single ‘The Answer’ is out now on Columbia Records