"G'day, I'm Vince Martin and I can sell tyres and sing in the snow." Those who reckon the Beaurepaires frontman uses someone else's voice in the Christmas advertisements on television are wrong. Martin, bless his tread patterns, croons the carol himself. He's sung, danced and acted his way around the world, from fronting a rock band as a young fella to appearing in movies and television dramas and singing in jazz clubs like the Dresden Room in Los Angeles. He has just finished two big-time projects: co-writing the film script for Joan Collins' book Prime-Time, and acting in the new Tom Hanks movie, Castaway. Martin's Australian twang isn't true-blue - he emigrated as a teenager with his parents from Holland.
This from the grass-is-not-always-greener-on-the-other-side file ... A study of 544 fatal Australian car crashes, presented at a road-safety conference in Canberra the other day, showed that drivers who use cannabis on its own have a six times greater chance of being in a fatal crash than motorists who are drug and alcohol-free. This finding follows an earlier one - a toke-n gesture, it was called - where most of 67 marijuana-users polled reckoned that driving while under the influence of wacky-backy was quite okay.
American company Meguiars makes waxes and polishes, and its annual Meguiars Award is to car collectors what the Oscars are to movie stars. The company set up shop in New Zealand last year and its managing director, Darlene Smits, soon found that "there are more passionate car enthusiasts in New Zealand than any other country in the world." So she brought the award here. Sir Len Southward, who runs the Southward Motoring Museum north of Wellington, the finest car collection in the Southern Hemisphere, has won the inaugural Meguiars Award of New Zealand.
The New Zealand Motorcycle of the Century is the Honda CB750 Four. It won on a countback after dead-heating with another Honda, the 50 stepthru. The CB750, launched in 1969, is popularly regarded as the world's first superbike. Its oil-tight reliability sounded the death knell for the ailing British motorcycle industry and marked the rise of the Japanese sun. The 50 stepthru was also launched in the 60s and its famous American advertising campaign - "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" - exploded the image of motorcyclists as anti-social greasenecks. Third place went to the Triumph 650 Bonneville, ahead of the Army Indian and Kawasaki 900 Z1. The aim of the 12 judges was to decide on "the street-legal motorcycle which has had the greatest impact on mankind this century, from a New Zealand perspective."
* Disabled driver Barry Austin was motoring along an outback road in Australia when his car broke down. He survived on radiator water for five days until help arrived from Alice Springs.