Because Sweden covered the West’s northern flank against the Soviet Union, the Scandawegians reckoned that if the balloon went up, their airfields would be destroyed in short order. So, when a Viggen’s nose wheel hit the deck, reverse thrust was triggered instantly, allowing the plane to stop in little more than 500 yards. This meant it could be operated from roads, frozen lakes, even school sports pitches. It was also extremely economical.. Once you’re moving, and provided you keep it in the right gear, the power is not too bad. But when the turbocharging is on song, the steering wheel does protest mightily, writhing about as though it’s in physical pain. And guess how much you’re expected to pay for all this. Yes, ?29,000. That’s more than BMW asks for the 318 diesel estate.. I can see why you would be interested in buying an updated Jensen or an Eagle E-type. They are approximately 18,000 times more interesting than the modern-day equivalents from Jaguar or Aston or Mercedes-Benz. But for every point you score on the kudosometer, you will lose one when you run over a manhole cover. Or into a tree.. Still, the most important new feature in this car is the engine. It’s a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel, and this is the first time Jag has ever used a four-pot paraffin stove in any of its cars. I was expecting great things because other diesel engines in the Jag and Land Rover range are excellent.. Elsewhere in the world the late 1950s were smoky and awful and full of misery, but in America they were a time of hope and adventure and brave young men drinking and driving and drinking and balling and drinking and dreaming of going into space. It was a time of Cocoa Beach and people with shiny smiles partying. And you still get that flavour in Miami Beach today. I like it there.. It doesn’t, though, because in recent times the Bentley has been hijacked by Paris Hilton and Wayne Rooney and others of a vajazzle persuasion. When I heard that the Manchester City player with the Brazilian on his head had recently had eggs thrown at his car during a night out, I knew immediately what sort of car it would be. And I was right. Mario Balotelli drives a Continental. Of course he does.. These, then, are just some of the tricks being used by car makers to shoot their cars through the EU’s goalposts. And every single one of them makes a car a little bit worse.. They’ve built a museum to house a ship that sank 380 years ago and were expecting 200,000 visitors a year. In fact they’re getting that many every two months and you sense they are actually quite embarrassed about the success.. It’s yet another reason I couldn’t be an actual racing driver. You’re not going to win much if you do a doughnut at every corner and pose for pictures as you go
by. And so it turned out to be. Hammond was the fastest.. There are three trim levels: Jam, Glam and Slam. But each is available with a bewildering array of options. There are, and I’m not making this up, billions and billions of permutations. And don’t worry if you make a mistake and order ‘Men in Brown’ door mirrors – that’s what they’re called – because you can have them changed for the ‘White My Fire’ option in a jiffy.. If I may liken all of the world’s cars to weather, you have many that are drizzle and some that are lovely sunny afternoons. You have those that are precise and fast, like lightning. And some that are just Tupperware grey as far as the eye can see. Then you have the AMG Mercs. They are cracks of thunder. They are V8 muscle cars. A blend of the American dream and German engineering. They are tremendous.. I flew to the Isle of Man last weekend on a brilliant little aeroplane. It had a whizz-bang glass cockpit and was completely up to date in every way. So the pilot set the autopilot and we sat back for a chat. Things were going very well until we descended out of the clouds near the island’s airport to find that we were heading straight for a hill. If he’d been asleep we’d have hit it.. But bonkers in a good way. Because it’s not really built to go round a track as fast as the laws of physics will allow. It’s not a Porsche or a Ferrari. Yes, it’s lighter and more powerful than the standard AMG car, but these modifications have only been made to increase my smiles per hour. It’s built to be a laugh.. This is because it has been bought, pretty much completely, by gentlemen from the Middle East, all of whom drive extremely loud supercars. You can hear them start up from three streets away, and you can hear them leaving the lights from back in Qatar. A Ferrari drove past me last night fitted with exhausts like 120-mm guns being played through the Grateful Dead’s sound system. And then there was a Lamborghini with a bark so loud it could frighten an old lady’s sausage dog to death.. But I did have a go with the automatic braking system. At speeds of up to 31 mph the car will stop if it thinks you are about to crash into something. And certainly it works a whole lot better than the company’s website, which doesn’t work at all. It doesn’t even seem to be sure that the front-wheel-drive five-cylinder T5 exists..