THERE’S no such thing as an average day at Wheels HQ. When you live for everything car-related working here really is the best job in the world. But who are the people behind the words?
If you’ve ever wondered about that, read on to meet the ragtag group of full-time Wheels writers tasked with bringing you all the automotive news and reviews you can handle.
We suspect the man in the hot seat at Wheels could be a cyborg. Manufactured in Bathurst, he studied journalism and is suspiciously competent at spinning a yarn, pedalling a car, presenting video and marshalling all the menial tasks that deliver Wheels’ mag and web content. While he may still be under extended warranty cover, he brings years of experience to the role, having served his apprenticeship with some of the best in the industry.
Our big number two arrived in Australia four years ago with a bag and a tenuous contact at Wheels magazine which, after some immersion therapy in Aussie car culture at Unique Cars, finally came good. It’s Enright’s name you’ll see on a number of our big drive stories and reviews and there aren’t many who have as much vehicle evaluation experience on both sides of the automotive globe. Ploughed all his money into a house that he reckons isn’t quite as good as a 911 GT3.
Feeding the ever-hungry beasts that are the Wheels and WhichCar websites is the responsibility of online editor Lewis. Gives the impression of poring through traffic data but is often unearthing facts about cars like the Honda Today Humming X or the Toyota Vellfire Modellista Hybrid Executive Lounge. Surprisingly unflappable for a sleep-deprived new father, Lewis is still planning ways of relocating the office to the showroom of Bingosports in Ginza, Tokyo. He’s a judge for the WhichCar style awards because most of the rest of us are, quite frankly, a sartorial shambles.
A one-off in so many regards, Ponch combines some serious skill behind the wheel with an almost OCD attention to detail when it comes to road test facts. Then there’s the ability to turn a wicked phrase, a contacts list like none in the industry and a willingness to team a grey suit with orange Nikes. Pulls a lot of strings behind the scenes for Wheels Car of the Year and the magazine’s signature comparison tests but still finds time for a quick martini and haircut.
Every publication needs someone completely unafraid of saying, “Not good enough. Do it again.” Ash is ours. One of the finest wordsmiths in the business, Westerman is Wheels’ go-to guy when we need stories polished or just require somebody to put their boot through a tall stack of PR guff and deliver the unvarnished truth Wheels readers demand. His drive stories are always worth reading; wry, conversational, insightful and always stacked with lines you wish you’d thought of first.
Rivals Ryan Lewis in the sheer depth of his JDM fanboyism, O’Kane’s desk looks like somebody’s dug the remnants from the bowels of retired Japanese vending machines. Owner of the loudest Nissan 300ZX we’ve ever come across, Tony brings his own blend of enthusiasm and sharp observation to Wheels’ road tests. He also books all of our test cars, so it’s good to stay on the right side of him. Otherwise that interstate road trip you had planned will be wholly soured as you try to lever three of your soon-to-be ex-mates into the back of a Jimny.
While some of the Wheels team live for those moments when they can get all sideways on track, Baz is the more studious type, preferring to fire off Freedom of Information requests or creating Excel code that unearths otherwise buried trends in local sales data. Years of newspaper training have given him a good nose for a news story, while years of being a father of four have given him the ability to go very ‘angry dad’ in the office. Speak to Park if you have a proper news story. Don’t speak to him if you’re a PR trying to spruik an in-car vaping system.
If you’d never been told, you probably wouldn’t guess that Dan’s the engineer in the team. Happier lining up social engagements than spending the weekend regreasing driveshaft boots, Gardner always comes back from press events with the kernel of a news story that nobody else quite seemed to latch onto. Owner of Wheels’ most flamboyantly platinum frequent flyer card courtesy of an unyielding international launch schedule, Dan’s also responsible for cutting through the jargon of latest automotive tech in Wheels’ ‘Explained’ section.
He’s the quiet man of the Wheels office until you shoot him in the head with a Nerf gun, whereupon he instantly morphs into a furious Maltese wrecking ball bent on vengeance. Bonnici creates much of the content on the WhichCar site, including the pivotal range reviews, where he contextualises a huge amount of data to make choosing the right car for you as easy as possible. Souvlaki connoisseur Bonnici has taken to flying a plane at the weekends in order to avoid the gaze of Melbourne’s speed cameras.
Our resident professional Queenslander, motorsport nut Kirby cut his teeth at Auto Action and has now progressed to a journo position on Wheels. Lives for cars, bikes and anything that can be timed on a track or rally stage. Has a girlfriend that probably knows a lot about Garth Tander’s qualifying record. Cam’s mystifyingly tuned in to Wheels’ social media following, so if there’s a post that’s gone more viral than the 1918 flu pandemic, chances are that Kirby’s written it.