It’s 1994. John Major is in Number 10, Michael Schumacher is embarking on his dominance of Formula 1 and Oasis and Blur are fighting for supremacy of the airwaves.
It is also the greatest year in the history of the car. The best year of the car? What is this nonsense? How can you pick one year from more than a century of car production as the best ever?
I’m perfectly serious and here’s why. Throughout the history of the car, there have been some great machines. In the year of my birth, 1962, a couple of real crackers made their debuts: the AC Cobra and the Lotus Elan: one a stunning sports car of the old school in style and engineering but with tremendous firepower from a new generation of lightweight American V8, and the other totally new in thinking with a fibreglass body, spine chassis and suspension from one of the greatest geniuses in automotive engineering. Both cars were fantastic road cars and winners on the race track.
As I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, other great cars came along – several of which, when I was old enough to drive, I actually owned. I got to drive some of the older stuff too, including Elans and Cobras. Brilliant cars. The latter was brutally fast and the former delicate with exceptional handling. Incredible to drive but a nightmare to own: part-time electrics, a chassis prone to rust, doors with gaps wide enough to let rodents in and a heater that was barely effective. I nearly bought an Elan. I went to test drive it with the then Mrs Goodwin.