Ronald 'Steady' Barker, who died last weekend, was a distinguished technical editor at Autocar during the 1960s, but he will always be remembered more as a free spirit than as some nine-to-five hack.
When Britain was starting to build the wonderful cars that still carry its reputation - namely the Mini, jaguar XJ6 and E-type, Range Rover, MGB, Rolls-Royce Shadow - and hot-housing still-venerated stars such as Stirling Moss, John Surtees and Jackie Stewart, Steady was with us in his pomp, ready to understand, explain and criticise these wonderful people and machines. He knew all the main men as friends, so when the Mini pioneer Sir Alec Issigonis died, Barker was able to write the finest and best-informed tribute of all.
Barker was already in his 60s when I met him, but he still loved cars as much as any car-mad teenager and drove like the wind. Memories crowd one, at times like this, but in particular I'll never forget a mad trip we made from home near Cirencester to Silverstone in Steady's magnificent 1908 Napier, so he could compete in a VSCC race. As we stormed along, he swore that his preoccupation was to slide this mighty behemoth as little as possible on the road so he'd have as much 'meat' as possible left on the skinny tyres to survive a 10-lapper, or whatever it was. He won, of course.