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No other car for Holden

AS THE lead singer of Australian rock band Ol' 55, Frankie J. Holden was a 1970s rock star.  Today, the multi-talented performer has gone on to carve out a successful acting career.

Holden, who has appeared in more than 30 films in Australia and overseas, is about to star in Nine's new drama, Underbelly. It is the 12-part dramatisation of Melbourne's infamous gangland killings and covers the rise and fall of career criminal Carl Williams. Holden plays policeman Garry Butterworth.

"Garry is a fictional character, but he's based on a real-life policeman. You could describe him as the moral beacon for the police force throughout the series,'' Holden says. ``He's a straight down-the-line character, respected by both sides.''  Holden does actually drive a Holden, but the AFI award winner does not ever want to be in a car again with Wilbur Wilde.

What was your first car?
My first mode of transport was a motorbike, actually. A Kawasaki 250cc. My first car was shared with my brother, John. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was an obscure English model, and we called it The Bubble.

What do you drive now?
You'll all be pleased to know that this old Holden drives an old Holden . . . an HR Premier wagon (1966). Only 35,000 genuine miles on the clock so, like me, it's just run in.

Do you have a favourite drive and who would you take?
Internationally, the drive over the Atlas Mountains in Morocco is frightening; the drive through Arthurs Pass on the South Island of New Zealand is spectacular. Locally, I like driving around where I live, the hills and coastline of the Bega Valley in far south NSW. I'll tell you who I wouldn't take...Wilbur Wilde . . . I've spent enough time in cars with him already.

How far would you drive in an average year?
Not so much these days. I fly from Merimbula to Melbourne or Sydney, and just potter around from beach to home otherwise. 

Do you have a favourite motoring memory?
When I was a kid of 10 to 15 years old we lived in Darwin and for our Christmas holidays we used to drive from Darwin to Tennant Creek to Townsville to Tamworth to Sydney to Adelaide, then put the car on the Ghan to Alice Springs and drive back to Darwin. We would do it in four weeks. This was 40-years ago, and the Top End roads were mostly dirt or mud. What adventures.

What would you buy if money was no object?
I'd finance a movie.

What music is playing in your car?
Joe Camilleri's Bakelite Radio, or Hi-5's Christmas Album, or Pink, depending on who has control of the deck.

How much is too much for a new car?
Anything over $50,000, you have penis-envy problems.

What should be done to make driving safer?
Legislate to make cars go slower, and improve public transport.