Will the Germans ever win? A magazine retrospective

Published: 30 December 2008

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to reduce my productivity to almost zero it’s being in the same room as a load of old car magazines. That’s quite a problem given that my newly constructed office at home contains hundreds of the things amassed by me over the last 25 years.

Quite apart from the memories they revive – where you were when you bought that copy, what was happening in your life then – they also remind you how your taste changes over time. My mid-1980s selection includes lots of Street Machines and kit car-ish mags (anyone remember Specialist sports car?), my early '90s period lots of Car and Drivers and Muscle Car Classics, a defunct US publication printed on that shiny toilet roll paper with about 3 colour pics per issue.

And of course underpinning the whole collection are the expected copies of mainstream mags like CAR and Autocar and the ones that are now no longer with us like Motor, Fast Lane and Performance Car (the new one is no relation, in case you were wondering).

But what struck me about this particular issue of CAR was just how much attitudes (and the fortunes of car makers) can change in short order. In 1980 we were asking whether the Germans would conquer the luxury saloon market as if it seemed laughable good though their efforts were. Now of course, ‘Will the Germans ever lose?’ would be more appropriate. And if Jaguar’s new XJ is as good as the XF, they just might.

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By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker