x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Meet 'Mrs Mansell'

Pauline Redding is the proud owner - or mother - of an 11-year-old purple Toyota Prado.

Pauline Redding poses proudly with her immaculate, 11-year-old Toyota Prado, which she prizes for its safety features, at her home in Jumeirah.
Pauline Redding poses proudly with her immaculate, 11-year-old Toyota Prado, which she prizes for its safety features, at her home in Jumeirah.

Older than Sharon Stone but younger than Susan Sarandon, Pauline Redding is a youthful mother of three from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the northeast of England. Having arrived in 1998 when her husband's civil construction work drew him here to help build Dubai's infrastructure, Pauline is the proud owner - or mother - of an 11-year-old purple Toyota Prado. Her pride and joy was bought by her husband as a welcoming present when she arrived from the UK.

Pauline had already begun her relationship with Dubai traffic with a bang. "My daughter Maxine and I had an accident on Sheikh Zayed Road on our first visit here when we were checking the place out before making the big move," she recalls. "It wasn't our fault as someone hit us from behind. When we returned to the UK to pack up and return to Dubai, my husband rang and asked whether I would like a BMW, which I'd driven in the UK. My response was a resounding 'No', as I would only now settle for a sturdy four-wheel-drive with a large bull-bar!" she says.

Bought from Al Tayer Motors on Sheikh Zayed Road for less than Dh100,000, the 4x4 had 13,000 km on the clock at purchase, which has now risen to a whopping 242,150 km over the past decade as she explored the country she now calls home. The car has full options and an additional petrol tank that proves handy during long trips around the UAE and Oman. "The safety factor was and still is paramount for me and the elevated position makes me feel less vulnerable on the UAE roads that are unfortunately crawling with aggressive drivers. I didn't have the same passion for the Prado as my previous sportier cars, which included BMW coupes and an Alfa Romeo. However, now it is a member of the family and we all love it dearly - even the guy who services it says he cares about it," says Pauline.

Pauline has taken her trusty mechanical family member to every one of the emirates many times and has explored the hills and valleys of Oman. "It is without doubt the best vehicle we have ever owned and this list includes a Range Rover Discovery and several BMWs. It handles brilliantly when turning and its acceleration is as good now as when brand new. It always has enough 'oomph' to get you out of potentially difficult situations on the road," she explains.

She managed to earn the nickname of "Mrs Mansell" in the UK because of her love of the faster things in life and even had a sticker with her infamous title stuck on courtesy of her proud children. "I am not a dangerous driver, but I like to get the best out of a vehicle and enjoy the buzz of travelling at a decent speed. I'm very vigilant and careful, but I often give cocky youngsters a bit of a surprise when they try to outmanoeuvre me on the road," she laughs.

According to Pauline, rarely a week goes by where she doesn't find a Post-it note with a name and number on her immaculately maintained Prado asking if she fancies selling it. However, she has such a strong bond with the Toyota that she may be driving it for a decade to come. "Everyone associates the car with me now. In fact, I have one friend who thinks I am absolutely mad to stick with the same car for so long. My husband would love to buy me a new car - even though I know he has a soft spot for it too.

"I have shared so much of my life with the Prado. Possibly my favourite memory was when my daughter returned home in the early hours of the morning and woke me to ask why my car had been dumped in the middle of the road. On investigation it turned out I had parked in front of the garage and neglected to put the handbrake on. The very slight driveway incline meant it had slowly rolled backwards and turned by its own accord - narrowly missing the identical car at the house opposite.

"I think it might well have developed the intelligence to turn itself out of the way of danger over the years," Pauline says, with more than just a smidgen of motherly pride. motoring@thenational.ae