SHANNON Noll has been driving cars since the age of five, sitting on this father's knee to see over the steering wheel.
That's one of the benefits of growing up on a 1800-hectare property.
Noll learned to drive on the family farm about 50km from Condoblin in the central west of NSW.
Once he was tall enough to reach the pedals, he tooled around the paddocks in a Toyota HiLux tray top before graduating to farm machinery.
But his first car was a world away from his dreams: a canary yellow Ford Falcon XE. "I didn't care what it looked like, it was my ticket to freedom,” says Noll. "We didn't have very much choice of second-hand cars in Condoblin.”
Living so far out of town meant driving was a necessity.
On his way to hitting the big time, Noll clocked up countless kilometres across Australia performing gigs for big audiences and small.
One weekend, Noll and his band drove 15 hours straight from Condoblin to Queensland to perform at Beenleigh.
"We did a gig on the Friday night, did a wedding the Saturday night, and then drove home on the Sunday,” says Noll.
"Towing a trailer with all our gear we nearly cooked the engine after the cooling fans went on the blink.
"We made it as far as Dubbo. To kill time while we figured out what to do, I had a couple of games of Keno and ended up winning $180.
"Turns out that was exactly what the mechanic charged us to get the van going again. It was fate.”
After signing a five-album deal following the 2003 season of Australian Idol, Noll treated himself to his first decent car, a black Ford Falcon XR8 ute.
But the car he's depended on most over the years has been the Mitsubishi Pajero, which is used as the family car for Noll, his wife and three kids.
"We had one way back before I left Condo (Condoblin), the first one did 180,000km and didn't miss a beat, so we stuck with the Pajero after that. We've now had four of them.”
Noll's latest drive car comes to him courtesy of a brand ambassador deal with Suttons Holden in Sydney, a supercharged V8 HSV Senator sedan.
It's got a fair bit more grunt than his previous car, a Holden Commodore SS-V wagon.
"I've had Holdens and I've had Fords over the years, Australian-made is enough for me. It's like barracking for Queensland or NSW. You still barrack for Australia,” says Noll.
"But this latest one, it's just a jet. It makes you proud that Australia could build a car like this.”
While it may be the end of the line for locally made Holdens, at least Noll's memories will give him plenty to write about in the future.
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