This isn’t rocket science, but our high-speed tour of Britain’s car factories still owes something to the line uttered by John F Kennedy when he committed the US to the space race: “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
That’s doubly true when it comes to getting to Sunderland in time for 9am if your starting point, like ours, is Twickenham in South-West London.
The idea is simple: visit every significant car manufacturing site to put a sense of scale on what remains Blighty’s most dynamic industrial sector. Readers with longer memories might remember that we’ve done something similar before, with a 2005 expedition serving as the partial inspiration for this one, but it has also been made topical by Brexit and all the unanswered questions about what it will mean for our car industry. Whereas the original tour was a marathon, including taking a car from each factory to the next (see ‘All change since 2005’, below), this one is definitely a sprint, given the need to compress a tour of the 16 UK sites that produce more than 100 road-legal cars a year into just three days.