Accountant hits the fast lane

A trainee chartered accountant is following in the tyre tracks of Jeremy Clarkson after deciding to prove the outspoken Top Gear presenter wrong.

Dan Woods, who works for Lancashire chartered accountants and business advisers Cassons, has had a lifelong passion for cars since being captured on a home video pushing a toy motor around a restaurant table at the age of three.

By his own admission his interest grew to the level where he became a walking encyclopaedia on all things on four wheels.

And after taking up a challenge inadvertently set by Clarkson, the 22-year-old now has his own personal website dedicated to reviewing the latest models.

Dan explained: “I was on holiday reading a Jeremy Clarkson book, in which he wrote a very sarcastic piece about how anyone could be a motoring journalist.

“He said all you have to do is find somewhere to write and then because you have a column people are bound to give you cars.

“I knew he was really saying it’s not that easy, but I thought ‘I could do that’.

“When I got back I sent a few e-mails to a couple of local newspapers and then the local free sheet magazine dropped through the door.

“I sent an e-mail off to them and within 24 hours they were on the phone and said ‘let’s go for it’.”

However, gaining a slot in the monthly publication was just the start of the journey for Dan, who was studying accounting, auditing and finance at the University of Lancaster at the time.

The budding journalist needed some cars to road test, which meant a barrage of e-mails and then a timely meeting with representatives of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

They put him in touch with the right people and in September, 2012, Dan wrote his first review for public consumption.

Since then, with the help of top manufacturers including Ford, Peugeot, Volvo, Kia, Land Rover and Honda, he has enjoyed a constant flow of cars to test and review, branching out from his magazine column to his own bespoke website (, which he launched in January, 2013.

“I started a blog but it didn’t look very good so I bought a .com,” explained Dan, who lives in Colne. “Then it was about choosing a name. There was a big list and ‘Simply Motor’ just stood out.

“There are a lot of manufacturers making ‘trendy’ cars and people reviewing them tended to be a lot older.

“I think I have been able to bring a fresh perspective and I have been complimented a lot on the site by readers and manufacturers alike. ‘A light hearted approach to motoring’ is the tag line, and it’s been a successful concept; creating articles which are as enjoyable to read as they are informative.

Getting the chance to test drive a different model every week, Dan - whose first car was a Citroen Saxo VTR - is currently booked up by manufacturers until June.

His reviews – which include marks out of ten across five different categories from looks to fun and practicality – are honestly held opinions with some room for “constructive criticism.”

His most recent model, a Volvo XC60, came in for decent marks, although a Subaru Impreza remains his personal favourite.

A V8 of some description is now on his wish-list, although Dan stresses nothing will replace his day job at Cassons, where he works in the firm’s accounts and audit department in Haslingden and hopes to become qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 12 months’ time.

“This is a hobby and a hobby that has gone a little better than I could ever have imagined but I think it’s always going to stay that way,” he added.

“I have always wanted to be an accountant and I enjoy what I am doing at Cassons. “I want to qualify and become successful as a chartered accountant – and then I might be able to afford one of these cars!”