Steve Cropley: A milestone week (if you're counting)

Steve Cropley: A milestone week (if you’re counting)

It’s 30 years since I started writing this column. Given it was only meant to be relevant in the week of publication, I’d be daft to invest it with any enduring significance, but I do feel some pride at not having been found out or fired.

Truth is, putting 660 words a week into 1520 issues of Autocar (of which we’ve sold 50 million copies) has never been a chore, but after such a long period, you do reach a few hard conclusions.

I have only one that matters: a pervading optimism about the future. Look how today’s motor industry uses innovation to defeat the hurdles officialdom puts in its way. Look how coolly its leaders (Tavares, Farley, Li Shufu) deal with complexities their predecessors never had to face. Media was never more varied and versatile. Car journalism just gets better, as my Autocar colleagues demonstrate. And by a wide margin, today’s cars are the best ever, which quells my fears for the ending of the ICE age.

Does this sound naive? Maybe it is. Bear in mind that these are the thoughts of someone who has been indulged by brilliant editors (Mark Tisshaw is the latest and greatest) and a wise and generous audience.

Above all, being allowed to rattle on about yourself every week for three decades has to be one of the purest joys of a lucky life.


A Bentley has arrived and all is right with the world.

It’s not just any Bentley but a Continental GT V8 in single-tone dark grey with beautiful tan leather buckets, my favourite colour for seats. I’ve got plenty of driving for work to do this week, but I’ll also make sure I do the A424 that connects Burford to Broadway near my place, just for fun. It’s not a big driving challenge, but it reminds you with every mile what a wonderful view of the world you can get if you travel by car.

It has been 20 years since some of us were smuggled into a dimly lit auditorium to see an original Bentley Continental GT styling buck, before the company launched production cars the following year. The Bentley bosses and designers of that era have since departed, but I do hope they’re still proud of their work on this superb car’s concept, shape and specification. Crewe’s future hung in the balance, but their wisdom ensured it was successful.