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My Car

A Dragon driven to succeed Add to ...

Arlene Dickinson

Profession: Owner and CEO of Venture Communications; judge on CBC's Dragons' Den

Age: 54

Hometown: born in Germiston, South Africa; grew up in Calgary

Notable achievements: Received Calgary Business Owner of the Year Award, Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneur Excellence; ranked one of Profit magazine's Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs, one of Chatelaine magazine's Top 100 Women Business Owners, inducted into Canada's Most Powerful Women Top 100 Hall of Fame

Currently: Dragons' Den, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBC

Arlene Dickinson is one of Canada's most powerful female entrepreneurs and the only woman judge on CBC's Dragons' Den. But the marketing expert doesn't just invest her cash in budding entrepreneurs, she also splurges on cars. Dickinson just bought a brand-new Lexus RX450h SUV.

What does a Lexus hybrid say about you?

The hybrid says that I care about the environment, but I still want the performance.

The Lexus says I care about the engineering and quality. It says I want style, but I also want substance.

I know some of the other guys on the show are into Ferraris and Lamborghinis - that's not me. I've had Porsches on and off for many years since I was 25. I also have a Porsche 911 4S. I've had every kind of Porsche. I love them because they're a fun car to drive. I love that small, sport-car feel and the raciness of the Porsche. I'm a big fan of that vehicle.

Are you a car girl?

Are you kidding? Yes. I've been a car nut forever.

My love for vehicles hasn't changed. I've had everything from a minivan with four kids and a lot of used vehicles when the kids were younger. I've had the Benzs, the Porsches, the Alfa Romeos.

And the kids got to ride in all of them. Whenever I could afford it, even when they were younger, I always made sure I bought something that was fun and sporty so the kids saw you could buy a good used vehicle from any brand of manufacturer. They loved the fact that even though we couldn't afford the brand-new cars we had really nice used ones.

Each of my vehicles have suited my stage of life. I don't have a favourite, but I like them for different reasons because I bought them at the time of my life when I wanted them.

What was your first car?

I bought a '67 Mustang that was orange and black. I paid $1,200 for it. I'll never forget it. It was a great car with a black interior and four on the floor. It was a fun car. The very first car I bought with my own money.

Then I had a Mercedes 300 cdi, a minivan, an Alfa Romeo. I had a 911 cab, then a 944, 928 - I've had every Porsche you can think of. Then I drove a Corvette, a Prius, a 4Runner, then a Lexus.

I've had a lot of cars. I do love driving interesting, fun and sometimes quirkier cars.

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What's your best memory on the road?

Something you can print?

I really love driving. I love taking long road trips. One of my favourite things to do when I'm upset, anxious or feeling stressed is to get into the car and drive.

I can't tell you any one time when I've had a great moment, but I can tell you many times when I've gotten into car and just found that driving has been an experience that relaxed me and made me feel good.

What was your worst driving memory?

I was a lot younger and I went a little too fast around a corner and did one of those doughnuts in the middle of an off-ramp in Calgary. That was my worst memory - slipping the 911 around on a circle on an exit ramp because of the icy conditions and learning a lot about the power of a Porsche car. Luckily, I kept control of the vehicle, but that was a really bad moment.

What do you listen to while driving?

I'm a real eclectic music person. Sometimes I have on Chopin, sometimes it's George Benson, Chris Rea, Jimmy Buffett, Management, Usher or something current.

I love all kinds of music, but the one thing you won't find me listening to is heavy gangster rap - I don't like that.

I haven't listened to Bieber yet, either.

What's your driving record like? Do you have any speeding tickets?

Yes.

I bought a Volvo. I just picked up the car and literally had gone three blocks from the dealership and I got a speeding ticket.

I've had lots of speeding tickets and I've talked my way out of many of them. Usually it's because I wasn't paying attention.

I'm pretty honest with the policemen. Usually they're pretty kind to me, but I have had some give me tickets. And, listen, when you're speeding, you deserve it.

Are cars a good investment?

Yes, for sure.

You buy the right car with a good resale value or you have an eye for the right car. A lot of the cars I've bought over the years I've resold and done quite well on.

I think cars are a good investment if you take care of them, maintain them and understand the value of them. You have to manage your car well, take care of it and maintain it - a lot of people don't. It's a big asset.

What do you recommend - buying new or used?

I don't think it matters. I think what you want is to buy quality.

New is always a luxury. I love to have new cars, but sometimes you can buy a great older car and it's a great investment.

There are some vehicles that will increase in value if you buy the right ones and treat them like an investment and there are other vehicles that are just a big investment in terms of dollars so you want to make sure you take good care of them so they retain their value as much as they can.

I'd love to have that '67 Mustang back again, let me tell you. It would be worth a fortune today.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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