If we at Autocar were the sort who boast, we could claim to have taught Chris "Monkey" Harris, the new Top Gear recruit, a good deal of what he knows.

He came to us more or less straight from university at the latter end of the 1990s to do the classic week's unpaid work experience - and stayed. It wasn't that he and we instantly fell in love; it was more that his determination was enormous, he was an engaging sort of bloke, and he soon proved he could write compelling copy. That, and he simply refused to go away.

From the first, he proved to have strong opinions, which he could always present persuasively either verbally (on video, at which he became expert) or on paper. He wrote stuff without fear or favour - including a fondly remembered column - which was only one reason why life with him on board was never dull. Another was his liking for heated arguments and his extreme reluctance to lose. Overlaying it all was his original laconic humour.

His main interest was always road testing: he rapidly became an expert whose opinion was widely sought, rising to be Autocar's road test editor.  That's no mean achievement when you consider that this organ invented road testing from 1927, and its opinion on key cars continues to be keenly sought by many experts worldwide, including the car makers themselves.