Best job in motoring: Seven Autocar editors reveal their highlights

Editing any magazine is a challenge, but taking charge of one with a 125-year history is truly daunting. Some of the brave individuals to have held the reins in more recent times reflect.

Michael Harvey, editor from 1991

In the early 1990s, Autocar’s management let the kids in. I was 27 and Andrew Frankel and Steve Sutcliffe – the spine of our road test team – had somehow acquired driving licences while in their early teens. The bosses knew that youthful energy would define that stage of Autocar’s life, and the reason was a megabucks launch against us. The old lady (it celebrated its centenary on my watch) survived, beating off the opposition. Handsomely. Less to do with me, much more to do with Frankel’s and Sutters’ allergy to sleep. Long days and even longer nights, but some of the best of my life.

Patrick Fuller, editor from 1997

This tale sums up life at Autocar in the late 1990s. Against Ferrari’s wishes, the road testers drive a Porsche 911 to the 360 M launch at Maranello. Then Goodwin (911) rear-ends Sutcliffe (360) in a ‘no-fault accident’. Snapper Stan Papior arranges the cars so the damage isn’t visible. It makes six pages in the mag. Ferrari forgives us because the 360 wins the test. Legitimately. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the highs of (1) our 100,000-selling Jaguar/Rover motor show issue, (2) working with a team that included nine former or soon-to-be editors and (3) discovering Chris Harris.

Rob Aherne, editor from 2001

Where to start? With some severely edited highlights from my two stints: lapping Brands Hatch seven-up in a Vauxhall Zafira GSi, 150mph for £500 in a Jaguar XJS (we nearly did it), setting up the Sideways Challenge, watching Chris Harris win his class in a Ford Fiesta on Rally GB, designing a concept car with TWR (where is it now?), running our 0-100-0mph competition, spending a fully off-the-record afternoon with McLaren supremo Ron Dennis, endless road trips and office late nights. Great writers, great snappers, great colleagues – and great, great days.

Chas Hallett, editor from 2006

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Whether or not Autocar is as good as ever is for you to judge, not me. But I believe that it has survived for so long because it strives to be relevant to you, our loyal readers. We never forget that your gift to us is our success, and we’ve been amazed and grateful, in difficult times, that your appreciation of our efforts has been so often and so warmly demonstrated.

Above all, we see ourselves as guardians of Autocar’s sacred relationship with you. The mission is to keep it relevant and hand it on to future colleagues who will take it to platforms not yet conceived. However, if you ask us to forecast when we’ll stop printing pages, as people sometimes do, we simply don’t have a sensible answer — beyond being extremely confident that such a date is far beyond the horizon. Onward, Autocar magazine, towards the 150th!