Get to know the Car Design News team. This week, it is our deputy editor, Freddie Holmes, who shares his early introduction to cars and what it’s like as a car design writer

In this series, we will be turning the microphone on ourselves for once to put the editorial team behind CDN in the spotlight. In this interview conducted by editor James McLachlan, we get to know resident wordsmith and country bumpkin Freddie Holmes.

Freddie portrait

Freddie Holmes, deputy editor, CDN

How long have you been writing for CDN?

I joined in May 2022 at a time where the company was expanding with plenty of other fresh faces coming in. Day one was a memorable one, hopping on a call with organisers of the Geneva Motor Show – little did I know what was in store down the line.

How did you get into this field?

I took the well-trodden path to a role in automotive journalism by initially pursuing a career in civil engineering, getting cold feet, and then using my bargaining skills to secure a last-minute place on a course in South Wales. English was always my strong suit at school, though, so it didn’t come entirely from the blue. 

As it happens, my first proper full-time journalism gig (beyond the wonders of local newspaper reporting) was with a publishing company focussed on the automotive industry. I was there for about eight years all in, which gave me a great base in understanding the intricacies of making, selling and shipping vehicles around the world. Design played a very small part at that stage, so it has been a learning curve at CDN but – to quote Mr McDonald – I’m lovin’ it.

When did you get an interest in cars?

As a kid my birthday present would involve a cardboard box filled with polystyrene packaging and a mish-mash of toy cars to fish out – the best kind of easter egg hunt. For some reason I remember being obsessed with the original Land Rover Freelander in primary school (let that be a clue to my age), and my dad always had some kind of BMW on the drive. My favourite of his was an E30 325i cabriolet in laser blue (a kind of deep navy), cream leather and with an array of AC Schnitzer extras. A reg check suggests it has been resigned to scrap, sadly. I suppose the short answer is that I was indoctrinated from an early age.

What was your first car / what car did you idolise as a kid?

While my pals were bowling around in their 1.0-litres and occasionally a big old 1.4, I took great pride in proclaiming my Peugeot 306 bore a 1.9-litre unit. Little did they know it was the non-turbo diesel model, meaning it sounded like a socket set in a Nutribullet under hard acceleration and only made its way to 60mph at a time of its choosing. My brother borrowed it for a drive to the coast and crashed it. I’ll never forget the pink boot, a result of its faded red paint from the sun.


Not my exact first car; this one is in better nick. 

As for idols, I’m not sure I had just one. The E39 M5 or E46 M3; the Aston Martin Vanquish (and modified Jaguar XKR, both from Die Another Day); the Lamborghini Murcielago after playing Need for Speed Hot Pursuit; the Peugeot 106 Rallye S2 because one of the seniors at school had one. Anything noughties will probably pique my interest.

Freddie driving M5 in Sweden

Perks of the job: trying to drift an M5 on a frozen lake

What does a typical day/week look like as a car design journalist?

Lots of time on the phone, at the keyboard, scribbling in a notebook or painstakingly rewinding a transcript of my own voice to make sure a quote is on the money. Scanning various sources of news throughout the day, coming up with new story ideas and – with COVID seemingly in the rearview mirror – plenty of travel, particularly around the design hotspots of France, Germany, Italy and Sweden. With the right story or event, the day can get away from you with frightening speed, and the last two years in particular have been a blur.

What is your ultimate car design icon?

Jeez, saving the simple questions till last. I would probably label myself a ‘BMW guy’ but far from the Akraprovic, Stage 2 tuned, tinted window breed. I drive a 2007 4.8i X5 and simply enjoy burbling about.

I digress. Two cars came to mind when you asked that question: the Lamborghini Countach in red with gold wheels, and the second-generation Renault Clio V6 in metallic blue. But I have to mention the two BMW CSLs, too: the E46 M3 and E9 ‘Batmobile’. What can I say. I have a type.