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ITH – Movie Cars: The Sequel {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

17 Jan 2018

The car and the silver screen have always been inextricably linked, from the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger in the 60’s, to the Pontiac Trans-Am from Smokey & the Bandit in ’77, to the tuned Toyota Supra in Fast & Furious – a good film always has a good car in it (for us petrolheads anyway). So it’s no surprise that we’ve gone back to our Movie Cars theme for this week’s In the Headlights, especially as it was so popular last time. This week’s choices are much the same as last time, but it just shows how iconic these are that our endorser went for them. The man behind this week’s movie cars is Colin Goodwin, whose bio says is a motoring correspondent for the Daily Mirror, but that’s doing Goodwin a massive disservice. From a personal standpoint, Colin Goodwin is a legendary motoring journalist and it was his writing in Autocar (alongside Steve Cropley) that inspired me to want to write about cars, so it’s a real pleasure to have him endorsing this week. Anyway, enough of my schoolboy gushing, onto the cars! (Okay, three cars and a bike)…

Land Rover Defender Spectre

Colin Goodwin: The Land Rover Defender is just as British as James Bond. Now out of production after almost 70 years of tackling deserts, bashing through jungles and living in Chelsea, the Defender is due to be reincarnated next year. It won’t be the same though.

Tim Oldland: The Defender certainly is an icon and the Spectre edition cars are like taking Steve McQueen and injecting him with steroids. There are massive wheels and tyres, so big in fact that they warrant huge wheelarch extensions, while there’s a chunky external roll cage, winch, spotlights and jacked-up suspension. In terms of sheer road presence and off-road ability there isn’t much than even come close.

DeLorean DMC-12

CG: Powered by a Renault 2.9-litre V6, clothed in a stainless steel body and built in Belfast by a company started by a man who went on trial for drug smuggling. It’s one of the most fascinating stories ever in car manufacturing. The car itself might have been forgotten if it wasn’t for its appearance in Back to the Future.

TO: ONE-POINT-TWENTY-ONE-GIGAWATTS!!!!!!!!! Ah those immortal words shouted by Doc Brown... Oh right, yes we’re talking about the car not the film. But as Goodwin says, the two are so linked that you can’t separate them anymore – in fact the DeLorean was more known for the dodgy circumstances surrounding its creation prior to the BTTF films so it’s a good thing that they are now known as time machines. In all honesty the DMC-12 isn’t a truly great sports car, but it’s certainly one of the most iconic vehicles on the road today. It also has rarity on its side – there were fewer than 9000 made and far less than that are still on the road. With those gullwing doors and shimmering bodywork you won’t care that it isn’t particularly quick – nothing short of a Lamborghini will get more attention.

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R

CG: This car is Mercedes’ answer to the boys on the other side of the town of Stuttgart. The people at Porsche, in other words, who think they have a monopoly in bespoke fire breathing sports cars. The GT R is angry on the eye and the same to drive. It’s as wild as it looks.

TO: As Colin says, the AMG GT R was created with the single purpose of getting people out of their 911 GT3s and boy have they created something special. You get in and your backside is perched atop the rear axle while an acre of bonnet stretches out ahead of you. It’s intimidating for sure, even more so when you start that big V8 up and your ears are assaulted by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Bark. You think it’s loud, then you put it in Sport+ mode and it gets louder and angrier again! The driving experience isn’t exactly relaxing either, with a firm ride and 577bhp going to the rear wheels meaning it’s twitchy all the time. It’s actually a completely different beast to the GT3, this is so raw and animalistic that you drive it to be scared and excited at the same time. An incredible achievement by Mercedes-AMG. Oh yeah, and it was in a Transformers movie for about 8 seconds…

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

CG: Only Harley-Davidson would call a bike the Fat Boy. One of Harley’s best-selling bikes, the original was launched in 1990. The two-wheeled star in Terminator 2, the Fat Boy continues today. Harley-Davidson’s range of bikes is vast but you’ll spot a Fat Boy by its trademark solid wheels.

TO: “Gimme your boots, your clothes and your motorcycle” – iconic words spoken by Arnie in Terminator 2 that refer to one bike – the Harley Fat Boy. Now to most people not into bikes (which includes me, I love motorbikes but have little knowledge of them) The Fat Boy looks just the same as it did in the film 26yrs ago, but there have been huge changes in recent years. There’s a new 1.9 litre engine, the bike has lost over 15kg of weight and there is tech and handling knowhow from Harley’s sports bikes, so the Fay Boy is no longer just a boulevard cruiser. Thankfully it still has the trademark Harley burble though…

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Now time to get under the skin of Mr Goodwin and find out if he’s more of a James Bond or Stuart Little fan…

The words of a former editor still ring in Colin’s ears, some 30 years after he first heard them.

“I started at Car Magazine in 1987 which was run by a lot of ex-journalists. I remember being told very early on that we were not car salesmen. Our job was to question everything. More people should hold that dear.”

Colin is a rare breed: a tabloid columnist and long-time freelance contributor, he’s been in the business long enough to uphold the journalistic values that seem, ever so slowly, to be dying out.

“The media hasn’t changed yet the motoring industry has reinvented itself many times over. A lot of magazines haven’t moved with the times. They still go in for the launch, then the first drive, then the group test, then go to the motor show and interview someone who doesn’t say that much.

“Those that succeed are moving towards the bespoke, the experiential elements, the high quality coverage.”

Of course, he still gets the thrill of working for a newspaper.

“Newspapers are exciting. I like paper. I like print. Of course, I’m old enough not to have to worry about newspapers’ longevity in career terms but I really believe everyone should work for a local paper for a bit. It gives you the skills you need to survive.”

He has a few bees in his bonnet, too.

“Don’t get me started on autonomous cars,” he laughs. “Every time you hear a manufacturer bleating on about how great they are, all the engineers are in the background waving their hands furiously saying it’s nowhere near ready.”

What about electric, I say, waiting for more scorn.

“There’s no doubt that Teslas are amazing but I remember sitting next to the boss of Renault around the time of the launch of the Twizy. We were talking about the range and he was saying how great they were for the city. I said he was talking b*****ks – I live in a cul-de-sac in a terraced house and I wouldn’t be able to charge it. They just haven’t been out to these places to see the reality.”

So what were his highlights of 2017?

“The Renault Alpine was a real treat. Looks lovely, rides well and fast enough.”

It’s the last word in that sentence which holds the key.

“I drive very differently now to the early days. When I was testing a Lotus Esprit Turbo which did 150mph, that was the speed I drove. I remember driving through Andover and seeing a sign which said ‘Exeter 105 miles’. I thought ‘great, I’ll be there in 40 minutes’. But now I’m more responsible. As you get older you become more socially aware and calmer. There’s nothing to prove. I drove a McLaren 720S which looked horny but was completely pointless. The traffic is s**t and you can’t find an open road for love nor money and you’ll go to jail if you drive it to the limit. The Alpine is modestly powerful and that’s enough.”

The other car that took his fancy was the highly rated Hyundai i30N Performance, with 271bhp.

“It’s just a really nice car. Well priced, well chassis’d and Hyundai have done a thoroughly good job on it.”

And if BOTB were to present him with the car of his dreams, what would that look like?

“If it was an everyday modern car it would be a manual Porsche Cayman S. But really what I’d love is a different classic each year. Maybe from April to October. The first year would be a Lotus Elan Sprint and then the following year I’d have an E-Type.”

But Colin’s not convinced he even needs to go back that far.

“The late ‘80s and early ‘90s was actually a golden time for motoring. It was around the time when brakes started working properly. Heaters worked, reliability improved and we hadn’t got into all this b*****ks of Apple Play and City steering.”

We can’t leave without looking at his Daily Mirror bio, which reports: “He’s driven an amphibious kit car across the Channel (it caught fire halfway across) and once held the record for the highest speed in reverse (104mph).”

If that doesn’t qualify him to talk about cars, nothing does.

 

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