It’s 30 years, to the week, since I arrived in the UK from Australia to take up a job as a motoring journalist.
In practice, life was quite different. I’d been immersed in a culture of big-capacity, American-influenced V8 cars built by the Big Three (who are still in the news) with a restricted collection of Japanese cars, some locally built, in support. European cars were acknowledged as the leaders in technology and sophistication, but they were expensive and fairly rare because ‘foreign’ cars attracted high tariffs.
Thinking back to those days, when the Ford Cortina was a top-seller, the Jaguar XJ-S was still fairly new on the market and the best thing in the Rover stable was the SD1, it’s no great surprise that we’ve made huge progress in every single facet of automotive design: dynamics, styling and straight-line performance.
In the end, the car industry sells by making progress - I believe I could have looked forward from late 1978 and anticipated quite a bit of what we’ve achieved.
There are some areas, however, where I don’t believe anyone could have anticipated the change. The first is body roll, the second is fuel consumption.