Me and my car: Cam Calkoen

By Donna McIntyre

Cam Calkoen was born with cerebral palsy but has transformed his perceived weakness into a passport to travelling the world. As an inspirational speaker he tells others to dream big

Cam Calkoen, Inspirational Speaker and Toyota Ambassador. Photo / Ted Baghurst.
Cam Calkoen, Inspirational Speaker and Toyota Ambassador. Photo / Ted Baghurst.

What do you drive?

A Toyota GT86. When I became an ambassador for Toyota NZ I had an FJ Cruiser - what a monster of awesomeness. Toyota NZ looks after its ambassadors and aligns the vehicle to the lifestyle. I wanted a car that inspired excellence and made everyday people believe in awesome. This car reflects attributes I admire; sophistication, excellence, power.

Main consideration when choosing a car?

My car is often the last familiar comfort zone I spend time in before taking to a stage. My main consideration is a crisp, clean, smart interior.

Does having cerebral palsy make any difference to how you drive?

Nope ... not a jot. When I was learning to drive I made sure I'd be able to drive a standard manual car. I did drop the clutch which resulted in a burn-out on my driving test, perhaps the cerebral palsy helped me pass that day.

First car?

A Toyota Corolla. It was safe, reliable, required no maintenance. It did a great job but I was thirsty for more.

Dream car ...

I grew up with aspirations of all the supercars although the first car I visualised was a Toyota FJ Cruiser. I stuck a poster on my wall as the last thing I saw before closing my eyes and the first thing I saw when I woke. Then I became a driver of an FJ as an ambassador. The law of attraction sure is a powerful motivator, dream big, achieve more.

Favourite car colour?

Blue as a reflection of the skies and seas we get to cross through believing in big dreams.

Who taught you to drive?

My patient parents. Dad used to let my sister and me drive along the riverbanks as kids. Once we progressed on to the road it was a little less relaxing. The independence from being able to drive as early as I could significantly enhanced my personal goals.

Manual or automatic?

Based in Auckland I prefer automatic because peak hour traffic would give my clutch leg a serious workout. I'm glad I learned to drive in a manual though, as I'm confident that I can drive any car.

Most memorable road trip?

Driving to Cathedral Cove this summer. The drive was sensational, the scenery surreal, and the company some of the best I've had. While stopped at a cafe I saw a group of kids getting a photo next to my GT86 ... awesome reality check.

How often do you clean your car?

I believe two things influence first impressions. The cleanliness of your car and your shoes.

What do you listen to when driving?

Bluetooth connectivity and shuffle are two of the best creations.

Great day trip out of Auckland?

Tawharanui tops it. Blast the cobwebs out on the motorway, admire Matakana scenery ... and feel like a rally king on the gravel twists and turns that get you to one of the most beautiful beaches. However, be prepared for epic car cleaning on your return and remember to pay that northern toll.

Do you judge people by what they drive?

It's impossible to judge as a car is often the tip of a big iceberg. When I was much younger it used to influence my assumption but I've been proven wrong.

Would you rather drive in cities like Auckland or take public transport?

I'd love to take public transport if I could find a car park or walk out my front door to catch it and get near to where I want to be.

Who else is allowed to drive your car?

This car is a big kid's toy and is something I love to share with my friends.

Do you have a special number plate?

If anyone can get AWESOME made into a personalised plate, I turn 30 today and it would be the only plate I'd let replace my standard one.

As told to Donna McIntyre

- NZ Herald

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