February 2024

Behind the wheel with Dom Joly

Dom Joly
Dom Joly


Former Sunday Times car columnist, funny man and travel writer Dom Joly on kerbside encounters and Europe’s road rage capital

Are you a good driver?
I like to think so. I’ve driven all over the world and have survived the roads in Lebanon, India and China, among others, so I’m pretty much prepared for anything. 

How many times did you take your test? 
Twice. The first time did not go well. About ten minutes into my first lesson, my instructor asked me if I had considered an automatic. I crashed into a bus on my first test and was so embarrassed I ran away.

What was your first car? 
It was a souped up, white Golf GTI convertible. Very naff, but such fun to drive. It later turned out to have been stolen, which was awkward. 

First time you drove abroad? 
First proper time apart from as a kid in Beirut was when I drove from London to Prague in my (stolen) Golf GTI to take up my post – an internship as a diplomat – just after the Velvet Revolution. At the time I had the only convertible in Prague.


Interstate 25 as it cuts through the rolling prairies of Colorado

Your favourite road trip destination?
So many. I love the drive from Beirut in Lebanon to Palmyra in Syria that we used to do a lot as a kid. America, however, was really made for road trips – from Highway One up the Pacific Coast to incredible desert drives in the Southwest. In my new book, I describe how I drove from Denver, Colorado, to Houston, Texas, visiting conspiracy sites. 

Have you ever crashed?
The bus in my first test. I also hit a van containing three nuns in Slovakia, but they were very nice and it was all fine.  

Prone to road rage?
Only in Paris. Something about a Parisian in a car turns people aggressive. It’s a subconscious thing.

What’s your ultimate driving album?
Changes all the time but currently an album called Sick Boi by Ren. He is an utter genius. 

Most dramatic road trip story?
I was driving the family from the Cotswolds to Istanbul and back and we got into a spot of bother in Serbia and a policeman took aim at our car. 

What cars do you own now?
I have a BMW X5 and a Mini Cooper.


What’s your dream car?
A Jaguar D Type (pictured).

Describe your relationship to driving in five words or fewer
Freedom, exhilaration, frustration. 

Dom Joly’s new book The Conspiracy Tourist: Travels Through a Strange World is out now (£22, Robinson). Tickets for Dom Joly: The Conspiracy Tour stage shows are available at domjoly.tv

This article has been tagged Adventure, Driving