It’s amazing how much less frightening it is to take a bunch of supercars, sports cars and super-heated hot hatches to the limit in 2010 than it was 25 years ago.
Back then - and I’m afraid I know, because that’s how long I’ve been scribbling – I would have spent much of the day experiencing momentary palpitations, hot sweats and the cold chill of fear.
And that’s not only because of a skill shortfall, but also because most cars didn’t have ABS brakes back then, let alone ESP, and plenty of them came with chassis that were less than thoroughly sorted.
One of those would have been the 1985 edition of this year’s winner, a 911 Carrera providing plenty of scope for the kind of lift-off gyration and front-end lock up for which this breed was once infamous.
The threat of lift-off gyrations would have been a strong possibility in a fresh-minted Peugeot 205 GTI, too, and rather more alarmingly, aboard a flat-12 Ferrari Testarossa, whose high centre of gravity, I’m told - I never dared push one to discover this myself - could tip it into the kind of high-speed slither that you’d remember for the rest of your life.
A flat-out tilt in an ’85 Jaguar XJ Series 3 V12 would have been interesting, too - get the soft, bump-smothering bushes in one of these stretching, and you could actually feel the front sub-frame moving relative to the body.
They’d have been at least as exhilarating, the class of ’85, but not always for sound reasons, although I’m sure we’d be stunned by the quality of their steering and how numb most 2010 machines are in this department.
What’s amazing about today’s bunch - even and especially the mighty Noble - is that a moderately competent driver can get in any of them and drive it close to its limits with relative impunity, and enough panache to have you thinking (wrongly...) that you might actually be a bit of a hand.
Even the Ferrari is benign enough to allow you to fool around with it a bit, though there’s no question that sharp teeth lurk beneath the electronic protections of that manettino. Most impressive of all, however, is the way you can get in the 911 GT3 RS and immediately give it a good ragging without feeling like you’re a tight-rope walker caught in a stiff breeze. And this one has good steering, too.
That’s evolution for you of course, in tyre technology, suspension geometry, electronic protections, dampers, bushes and more. But 25 years ago, I never thought that you’d be able to fling around cars this potent without nursing a repeatedly adrenalin-pumped, fear-frozen heart.