My first blog of 2020 was a prediction for the executive car of the future. It proposed a self-driving 300mph electric car. When I first started driving, the latest car technology featured central locking, catalytic converters and electric mirrors. Diesel cars were still slow and dirty. Turbo technology was all the rage for performance figures and some cars still had a three speed automatic gearbox.
When I started driving in 1992 my first car was a small, eleven-year-old, second-hand hatchback. It was a 1.3 litre petrol with a carburettor. It had wind-up windows too. Probably the highest tech feature was the rear wash wipe or heated rear window. Cars were different then. I would say some even had more character than today. In an age of analogue, cars had feel to them and wind tunnels had not yet dictated the styling.
Thinking back, my first experience with an executive car was a relatives Mark II, Ford Granada 2.8 Ghia. Comparing this to my little hatchback really defined what an executive car meant to me: legroom, luxury, refinement, power and comfort. The electric windows, effortless overtaking ability and big comfy seats were something of an aspiration. There was always a feeling of success associated with the big car.
Years later when the same relative passed away, I had the opportunity to buy his last car – a Vauxhall Carlton. Admittedly it didn’t have all the bells and whistles but on my thirty-minute drive to and from work every day, it made a big difference. I would arrive at my destination feeling more relaxed and receptive. It was quite simply, a lot more pleasant to travel in a large executive car.
Unfortunately after just a few months of ownership, the old Carlton failed its MOT and went for scrap. I went back to owning small cheap cars for a while but my interest and desire for owning a big car had been stirred. Years later when I was in the private hire industry and looking for my first executive car, the right circumstances presented themselves. An ex company car with a few miles on the clock popped up at the right price.
The car in question was the Audi A6 with a 30 valve, 2.8 V6 engine. It was the SE model with the top specification too. It even had the all-important extra dials in the dashboard. Things had moved on from the Granada and Carlton! Computers meant fuel injection replaced carburettors for better performance and new safety features were introduced. Traction-control, ABS, climate-control and a driver’s airbag.
Buying a German car brought superb build quality. Just like the Granada though, the 2.8 V6 engine gave the car real character. Not only was the performance impressive but the noise added a sense of theatre. The car still evokes great memories but one recollection was not so positive – the thirsty 17mpg fuel efficiency. In retrospect, it may even be considered sociably irresponsible in this day and age.
Over time, each new car I have owned has introduced more features. Things like cruise control, multi-zone climate-control, heated seats, automatic windscreen wipers and adaptive lights have all helped to improve comfort. In contrast to the Granada’s big V6 petrol engine, the latest Mercedes E Class (turbo Diesel) engine is 30% smaller but it packs 30% more power and delivers 200% greater efficiency!
For some people my chauffeur blog about a 300mph, self-driving electric car might seem far-fetched. When you consider how cars have evolved in the last thirty years however, who knows where we will be in another thirty-years? 2050 here we come.