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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

2 years ago

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Mel Nichols | Journalist


23 September 2022

A few years ago, while talking to Jeremy Clarkson about the development of modern motoring journalism, I asked what had influenced him. His greatest inspiration, he said – and linked directly to the way he’s written and broadcast about cars – was Car magazine of the 1970s and ’80s. As it happens, I was its editor from 1974 to 1981.

‘I don’t want to blow smoke up your arse unduly,’ Jeremy said, ‘but Car really changed the way it could be done. I was struck by the drive stories – I still think the three Lambos trip across Europe [Convoy! February 1977] was the best-ever drive story.

‘But it was particularly because of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I can still quote large chunks of it even now. You know, the Austin Allegro Vanden Plas 1500… For: Those impervious to its looks Against: It exists. Sum-up: Leyland joke.

‘I remember those things because they were so unusual. Here was a magazine being spectacularly honest in a very direct and amusing way about terrible cars. That was very important to me because it was new and it showed me that you could be witty and rude. What Car?, Autocar, Motor: they didn’t do that. They didn’t say “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than drive this thing”.’

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