Currently reading: The most popular Throwback Thursdays of 2015 - from the archives
A look back at 2015's most popular Throwback Thursday pieces, as chosen by our readers

The Autocar archives have long been a source of great stories, and 2015 has provided us with plenty of blasts from the past.

Whether it's driving from Land's End to John O'Groats on one tank of fuel or driving Ford's 196mph Supervan, our Throwback Thursday articles have shone fresh light on these motoring adventures.

Spanning four decades of our 120-year history, here are the top 10 most-read Throwback Thursday articles featured in 2015.

1 – BL’s unseen concepts, 28 April 1993

In 1993 our own Steve Cropley took a tour of the British Leyland Heritage Motor Centre, which for the first time showed off prototype models from BL's history.

These concepts wouldn’t look out of place in today’s market: an electric supermini, a shooting brake-like Rover SD1 estate and an MG Mini hot hatch, yet all were consigned to history by the beleaguered British Leyland management.

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2 – Secrets of a lost British supercar, 17 April 1985

In 1977, Glenfrome Engineering, a tiny but intrepid company more recently associated with Range Rover modifications, produced the Delta. Although the Delta was a comely supercar prototype, it attracted no buyers and thus haunted a storeroom under a sheet for eight years.  

Autocar journalist Bob Cooke was then invited to drive the Delta, and his review of the forgotten supercar became the lead and cover story for 17 April 1985 issue of Autocar.

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3 – When Bugatti bit the dust, 16 April 1997

Back in 1997, Autocar toured the eerie cadaver that was the Bugatti factory, less than two years after its abandonment.

The walkaround took place not even a year before the Volkswagen Group snapped up Bugatti, turning it into the Veyron-building, ultra-luxury manufacturer it is today, but the impression of the French brand could not have been different at the time Peter Robinson was shown around, following the downing of tools by the Bugatti workforce.

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4 – Bentley’s Concept Java, 16 March 1994

Bentley impressed at the 1994 Geneva motor show, just as it did this year with the EXP 10 Speed 6.

But where the Concept Java never reached official production - only 18 models were commissioned for the Sultan of Brunei - the EXP 10 Speed 6 has been given the green light for production alongside a smaller sibling to the Bentley Bentayga, as part of Bentley's plans to double its sales.

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5 – 4x4s tested on the farm, 13 February 1982

Long before the crossover became king, rugged models with high suspension were made for their utilitarian appeal rather than negotiating the school run.

This is why in 1982 we put the most roughty-toughty 4x4s we could get our hands on to the test on a working farm, in a muddy, livestock-loading group test to see which could topple the agricultural might of the Land Rover Defender.

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6 – Music on the move, 8 October 1977

It’s fairly easy to take car audio systems for granted, given the increasing amount of acutely complex tech that features on modern cars.

Back in 1977, when a decent sound system was far from standard equipment, Autocar tested 10 of the best on offer to decide upon a winner. A test route with reception dead zones and a thorough cassette testing strategy were duly implemented.

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7 – Green light for Jaguar’s new E-Type, 11 November 1992

Long before the Jaguar F-Type (as we know it) and even before the XK, Jaguar was developing a successor to the iconic E-Type. Steve Cropley was on hand to administer some coverage to a topic wracked by fever-pitch speculation.

This speculation naturally lead the X100 in development to be dubbed the ‘F-Type’, but the eventual model came to be called the XK. Nonetheless, the palpable buzz around the E-Type’s replacement can still be felt.

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8 – Ford Thunderbird road test, 27 January 1961

The new Ford Mustang is today beginning to make appearances on UK roads, but 54 years ago the Ford Thunderbird was facing a similar UK debut.

Autocar testers at the time heaped praise on the Thunderbird, lauding its acceleration, handling and tight turning circle. But the price was a sticking point, and the numbers of cars that reached UK shores were small, considering its price and status as only a ‘semi-official’ model.

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9 – Land’s End to John O-Groats on one tank, 10 July 1976

Or one tank of petrol and a cylinder of LPG, to be precise. Technicalities aside, intrepid Autocar reporters Stuart Bladon and Martin Lewis, along with photographer Peter Cramer, managed to take an LPG-converted converted Austin 1800 long-termer the length of the country.

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In what could be described as a premature foreshadowing of electric vehicle range anxiety, the alternatively-fuelled 1800 was challenged to an 860-mile endurance run.

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10 – Driving Ford’s Supervan, 6 May 1971

Despite the continued absence of a Transit ST or RS in the Ford line-up, it cannot be said that Ford hasn’t flirted with the performance panel van niche, and that's largely thanks to the 1971 Supervan.

Autocar’s David Thomas put the Supervan, with its 5.0-litre racing-spec V8, to the test, and although not quite reaching the Supervan’s theoretical top speed of 196mph, was quick to praise its car-like handling characteristics. Its spiritual successor is still unknown.

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