Autocar Subscriber Extra is our package of exclusive benefits for our magazine subscribers. One of these is a weekly behind-the-scenes email newsletter from our editors. Until the end of August, we're giving all Autocar readers free access to these newsletters and columns. You can subscribe to Autocar magazine with our Summer Sale offer here and save 50% on your first 13 issues.
In the wider world, car journalists are known for two things: road testing and visiting exotic locations for car launches. However, the brutal truth is that, over the past 18 months, the shape of these events has changed completely.
These days, if a car is important, there’s a Zoom launch that embraces hundreds of attendees at a time. If it’s a mere update, you get invited (in small numbers) to a half-day chat and short drive, either near your home or at the headquarters of the new model. Long trips away aren’t offered or permitted. And in my head, at least, they’re not missed.
Still, there was some nostalgic talk among colleagues this week about the special junkets we used to attend – expensive, long-winded, far-flung or all three. For a while, it was a close-run competition, but I believe I was eventually able to trump them all with tales of my participation in what must have surely been Autocar’s greatest solus car launch ever: the extraordinary episode back in 2006 that took three of us plus a couple of brand-new Land Rover Freelander 2s to the Falkland Islands – in the middle of the South Atlantic – where we stayed for six days to prepare material for a 24-page supplement.
Our crew consisted of Dan Stevens (news editor of the time), Stan Papior (still one of the finest photographers around) and me. Why did we choose such a bleak and remote part of the world, where the average ambient wind is 15 knots and there’s no such thing as an indigenous tree? Because I had recently heard the Falklands billed as “the Land Rover capital of the world” on account of the fact that the vast majority of cars on the roads there were Landies; and that the archipelago (there are hundreds of islands, not just the two main ones) has just one car dealer, the Landie man.