Happy New Year

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Bill Boddy

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With tales of death and destruction increasing rather than diminishing, and Britain experiencing her share of tragedy recently, but hopefully with a reduction in the world’s nuclear weapons approaching, we can only hope that, from the angle of cars and motoring sport, 1988 will be at least as enjoyable as 1987 has been.

Formula One should be as enthralling as it has been for many years, most other forms of racing are in a healthy state, Group A rally cars are not to be despised, and intriguing new road-cars can be expected to surface during the coming year — with four-wheel drive, four-wheel-steering (first seen on a chassis which surfaced in Balham, London, of all places, some 65 years ago) and anti-lock braking to the fore.

Cars can be expected to continue to improve, especially in terms of fuel economy and safety, but will speed-limits be raised accordingly? Traffic congestion will no doubt continue to get worse!

We note that, in London, the nightly stop-go-stop progression along Western Avenue has grown more acute since we rust referred to it, and that this clog-up now also prevails beside Northolt aerodrome because commuters to Hillingdon and Ruislip are presented with a crossing controlled by traffic lights; an underpass or flyover would pay dividends in time saved and tempers relaxed. As it is, it takes as long to drive from the City of London to the start of the M40 as it will to cross by tunnel from England to France if and when the Channel Tunnel opens in the 1990s.

Reduced congestion is one motoring improvement, as distinct from car improvement, we would like to see achieved in 1988. Another is less persecution of vehicle-users, whose cars are now clamped, towed away, spot-checked and radared with increasing frequency. Those radar guns, called in because they were deemed inaccurate and the cause of a great many dubious prosecutions for speeding, are, we hear, to be reintroduced by police in Gwent. So drivers’ rights must be watched closely in the New Year.

Nevertheless, we hope for a happy 1988 in the belief that some of the gloom of the present day and age is the product of the daily media, both television and newsprint.

The Wall Street collapse caused a shudder among those who know the implications of the 1929-30 financial crash (which had its influence in mediocre car design and in the spawning of tiny economy baby-cars thereafter) and came remarkably soon after the computerisation of the London Stock Exchange had been widely praised; the recovery of Jaguar under Sir John Egan has been followed surprisingly quickly by news that all is not well, moneywise, in that direction; although still winning long-distance races, Porsche, the ideal of most young executives and many other discerning drivers who reckon to know a well-engineered, desirable car when they encounter one, is also under a media cloud, as it approaches some sort of “end-of-the-road” with its existing models— the only way to see the Porsche System at a viable price, we are told, is to purchase a Seat and raise its bonnet; the BP shares-sale, publicised to the skies, went as flat as a punctured tyre; and so it goes on.

Some of this must surely be hysterical media-thinking? We recommend you to try to make your own judgments in the forthcoming year, and enjoy your driving on what uncongested roads remain. So we can wish you, with some reservations, the traditional Happy New Year.

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