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.”