Currently reading: How I fell in love with cars: Andrew Frankel
Frankel was a car freak from the start, but blames a well-known car magazine for making the obsession incurable

It is down to two people, or one person and one group of people to be precise. One infected me with the car bug, the others made sure the condition was terminal.

I was born diseased, it passing down the generation from my father. I’m not sure I ever met anyone who had it worse. A person less like the stereotypical accountant you could not imagine, yet he became one simply because it meant he’d get to drive between audits. He was not obsessed with cars, but possessed by them.

But here it gets tricky because the people who took my condition beyond all hope of salvation are not only known to me, they are my friends. For decades in this business they have been known as the Australian mafia, and in the 1970s and ‘80s a succession of them changed the face of motoring journalism.

Before the mafia turned up here, car magazines were in the main at best worthy, but far more often terminally dull products. Hate to plug the opposition though I do, more than 40 years ago Car magazine changed all that. Edited first by Mel Nichols in the 1970s, then our own Steve Cropley, then Gavin Green, Aussies all, it didn’t so much raise the standards of writing in motoring journalism as transform them. For the first time while you might be drawn to a story by the car that was its subject, you’d be held to the last line by the quality its words.

Back in those days it was fearless too: cars would be dismissed by single word sum ups like ‘yawn’, ‘frightful’, ‘embarassment’ and, my favourite reserved for the Moskvich 1500: ‘Aaargh!’. Single sentence dismissals included ‘Like a bad hangover’ (Simca 1100) and ‘Someone shoot it, please!’ (Triumph Spitfire).

I knew the exact day Car was published every month and if, for any reason, it wasn’t there when I sprinted to the newsagent, that day would be one without worth. If it were, I’d not wait to get home before devouring it, but instead sit on the pavement until I’d read at least one complete story, which would provide me with a fix sufficient until I got back to base.

And then Nichols and Cropley came to Autocar, one just before, the other just after I joined. One helped me get my job, both helped me keep it. The debt is incalculable.


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Christian Galea 31 March 2020

My passion for cars started

My passion for cars started when my father worked at a car dealership and not only took me to sit in brand new cars (which I loved), but sometimes also brought home copies of Autocar with him so that I could keep thinking about them at home, and enjoyed reading all about the latest news, opinions and group tests...this was a time when the Internet was still in its infancy, so magazines/books were still very much my main source of knowledge, thus heightening the feeling of - dare I say it - excitement that came with getting my hands on a new magazine (nowadays I feel that much of the magic is lost, seeing that you'd probably already know about the latest new cars and tech, leaving mostly opinions and reviews as the things worth reading (but they're often soon published on the Internet anyway too...))