Auto Profile: Richard Byles - chairman, Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited
On an average weekend, Richard Byles likes to take a break and go for a drive out. “I drive a BMW M4, which has superb handling, so I like to take it on the North-South highway then find a spot to eat, which is usually the Deli at Richmond or Scotchies.” The self-proclaimed BMW lover has been driving the brand since 1999 when he bought a 330 BMWi, however, he is now open to trying something new.
Q: What is your favourite destination to drive to in Jamaica and why?
I like driving from Ocho Rios to Oracabessa. The road is beautiful, and it has nice curves. In addition, it is hard to beat the view of the ocean.
Q: What was the first vehicle you owned, and what type of trouble was it known to give?
It was a 1969 Volkswan bug. I had just finished college and got my first job, so I borrowed the money from the bank and bought it. It didn’t give any trouble, but it was very slow. I had it for about three years until someone hit me and it was written off. The next vehicle I bought was a Datsun 120y, which was a big step up in speed.
Q: When did you develop a love for cars, and what was the first car that you loved?
There isn’t one specific instance. My brother in law was a motor enthusiast, so he would take me to a lot of auto events like rallies. From that era, I got hooked, and my love just continued to grow.
Q: What is your dream vehicle?
A. I have started to have an interest in Porsches. I see myself in a gun-metal-silver 911 GTS soon. I remember going to North Carolina recently and driving a relative’s 911. The thing was like it was glued to the ground. It cornered perfectly, plus the speed was exhilarating..
Q: What is one auto activity you would love to do with your sons?
A. I would love for me and them to drive on some of the more famous international roads like the ones in Italy and Germany. Of course, I would be racing them in my Porsche.
Q: What foreign country road do you like to drive on and why?
A. I like the Autobahn in Germany because there is no speed limit, so you can do whatever you feel like.
Q: What is your favourite car movie, and which character would you play in it?
A. I am not a fan of car movies, but I love F1 racing, and Lewis Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes, is my favourite driver. Of course, I forgive him for driving Mercedes though.
Q: If you are at an adventure park and had the opportunity to: drive a go-kart, ride an ATV or race a canoe, which would you choose and why?
A. The go kart would be my obvious choice, it's faster, more to the ground and I think it would give me more thrill.
Q:Which area/parish/community in Jamaica do you think has the potential to be the next big economic hub? How is mobility linked to accomplishing this?
A. Tourism and residential living can be a big boom in St Thomas and Portland once the roads to access them from Kingston are fixed. Traditionally, Kingston has been expanding westward, so this can be a great venture for us to look into.