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The CAR Top 10: most controversial CAR Magazine covers

Published: 15 September 2017

► Top 10 CAR covers
► Looking back 55 years
► These are our cheekiest 

CAR Magazine is now 55 years old, so for a fond look back at our illustrious history, we thought we'd rifle through the archives.

We weren't looking for our most glamorous adventures or the most clever features for this Top 10, though: we were after the moments when CAR ripped the industry a new one. Check our our top 10 most controversial covers below.

April 1963

CAR April 1963

CAR was a pioneer of the scoop shot, and this undisguised Hillman Imp was the first one to make it on to the cover, such was its importance as a rival for the Mini. No surprise that Hillman's owner, the Rootes Group, wasn't best pleased.

July 1972

CAR July 1972

Ford's new Mk3 Cortina was almost universally praised by the motoring media for its brilliance. We thought otherwise, calling it out as a cynical piece of re-engineering by Ford. And not for the last time.

December 1972

CAR December 1972

Like many of the best CAR covers, this one makes its point with a brilliant image and just a handful of words. Volvo was a little less impressed, and withdrew its advertising from CAR for over a decade.

June 1986

CAR June 1986

The most important car to UK buyers, Ford's new Mk4 Escort, got a thorough workout from us, including five laps of the M25. You said that was a waste of time and fuel, but you forgave us.

August 1988

CAR August 1988

What better way to discover the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of the 10 top-selling cars in the UK than to quiz fleet owners about the hits and misses of their high-milers? It made uncomfortable reading for manufacturers.

January 1990

CAR January 1990

Maybe we were spoiled by the Cosworths, but Ford's late '80s and early '90s hot hatch efforts were poor, summed up by the grouchy Mk3 Fiesta. But Ford listened, because they've been great ever since.

May 1990

CAR May 1990

After suspicions were raised during a prototype drive, editor Gavin Green's full test confirmed that Toyota had robbed the MR2 of its delightful balanced. Toyota tweaked it, but it still didn't drive as well as the old one.

January 1993

CAR January 1993

The Rover 200 we loved, but the turbocharged 200 Coupe got its very own front-cover smackdown. Rover wasn't pleased, but then we all know how that turned out.

April 1994

CAR April 1994

A much-emulated and much-admired cover trained its acidic guns on our fast but fragile Mk3 VW Golf VR6 long-term test car, which had no end of niggles and shot holes in Volkswagen's reputation.

September 2004

CAR September 2004

Ferraris always win, eh? Not this time – the self-referencing Ford GT pulled the same trick as its Ferrari-beating race-car inspiration by handing its Maranello rival a wooden spoon. Damon Hill helped us out with the testing.

Check out the rest of our CAR Top 10 lists

By Matt Joy

Former associate editor of CAR magazine

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