Ford Europe boss Jim Farley shows why he's a real car lover, new Fiat 500 is welcomed onto my family fleet, Land Rover's Arthur Goddard is a true inspiration
Steve Cropley Autocar
21 September 2015

MONDAY - It’s pretty special when one of the car industry’s top men turns out to be as keen a car nut as any of us.

The rigours of business tend to blunt the enthusiasm of the industry’s biggest men, but when Ford’s European president and CEO, Jim Farley, came to our London HQ, his credentials soon came to the fore.

Farley agreed to be interviewed in the less than salubrious setting of our photo archive and (as well as talking business) gave us lots of insights into his credentials as a car lover.

“I didn’t have money,” he explained, “so I took vacation jobs. One of them was in an engine remanufacturing plant, a long way from home. I bought a ’65 Mustang junker, lived in it while I re-did the engine, cashed in my return airfare to buy fuel and drove back to Michigan – with no licence or insurance. Not even a spare tyre. Didn’t tell my parents, of course. What I loved most about that car was washing it, and driving it slowly. I’ll never forget the feeling of freedom.”

TUESDAY - Loose the fireworks and ring the bells: the Steering Committee has a new car. After model deliberations that have stretched on one axis from Range Rover Evoque to BMW i3, and on the other from Hyundai i10 to Volkswagen Up, we are about to swap a seven-year-old Fiat 500 diesel for… another Fiat 500, this time a 105bhp Twinair.

I was concerned at first about the choice of Fiat’s unique two-pot engine (although charming, a Twinair needs ‘understanding’) but as well as packing 23% more power, the latest version is smoother and its throttle response is more intuitive.

Although our new 500 is a run-out model (you save £3500), its suspension has been updated several times in seven years. And within 100 yards, you’re aware of a big reduction in nose weight. However, the best justification for buying another Fiat comes from the owner herself: “It makes me feel happy.”

WEDNESDAY - After a recent story about British Motor Heritage – the Oxfordshire company that makes new MG B and Mini bodyshells – a neighbour hastened to show me his superb, rebodied 1964 MG B, which he’s certain will now last another half century.

However, while writing about BMH, I realise I failed completely to credit the vital efforts of ‘Mr MG B’ David Bishop and his associate, Neil Morrick, who – as present BMH proprietor John Yea made clear when we met – was the main driver both in the company’s formation and its ‘repatriation’ from BMW. Without this pair, BMH could never have worked.

THURSDAY - To a pre-Goodwood ‘heritage’ dinner staged for hacks in a Surrey pub by Land Rover where we met 95-year-old Arthur Goddard, one of the marque’s all-time heroes. At 24, Goddard was plucked from the company’s stretched engineering team to be chief engineer on the original Landie, launched in 1948. Despite his years and a pretty decent dose of jetlag, Goddard dealt remarkably well with an hour-long interview, during which the audience was transfixed.

The US army Jeep, known to have influenced Land Rover, was useful for two key things above all, we learned. First, it showed that Land Rover should do whatever it could to avoid early-onset rust. Second, it became the body-strength standard to which Land Rover worked.

Given that the British 4x4’s outer panels were to be formed in relatively soft aluminium (supplies of steel were very restricted), Goddard and Co decided to make their box-section chassis as rigid as the total Jeep structure. It worked. Early Landies may have had glitches but no one ever complained about their chassis strength. 

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Join the debate

Comments
1

21 September 2015
petrol engine this time. I have been roundly attacked on the forums here for my diesel opinions. But as a former resident of Ca. I stick by them and as I have done elsewhere will pass on this snippet from my previous (local) Government, at OEHHA.ca.gov

"Long-term exposure to particles in diesel exhaust poses the highest cancer risk of any toxic air contaminant evaluated by OEHHA. ARB estimates that about 70 percent of the cancer risk that the average Californian faces from breathing toxic air pollutants stems from diesel exhaust particles. The microscopic particles making up diesel exhaust particulate matter are less than one-fifth the thickness of a human hair. They are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, where they can contribute to respiratory disease."

Motor vehicles are almost all polluting but you have to choose one poison and I for one think you picked the right one this time.

Enjoy !

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals
  • Hyundai Kona
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Hyundai's funky-looking Kona crossover with a peppy three-cylinder engine makes all the right noises for the car to be a success in a crowded segment
  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq