Autocar’s best of 2017: our top 10 Throwback Thursdays


Autocar’s history stretches back 122 years, so we have plenty of material to draw on for our regular Throwback Thursday feature. 

From reflecting back on road tests of classic cars to looking at the launches of the long-forgotten, our weekly dip into our archives remains a hugely popular feature.

So, given this is the final Thursday of 2017, let’s look back at the 10 most popular Throwback Thursday features of the year.

Autocar’s 10 most popular Throwback Thursdays of 2017 

10 – 1996 De Tomaso Guara first drive

De Tomaso is best known for the Pantera, a Ford V8-engined supercar from the 1970s that is most famous for being shot at by Elvis (really, with a gun and all). 

Ever heard of the Guara? Probably not – it’s the £82,838 BMW V8-engined model that was the last car the company produced. We drove one on 24 April 1996

9 – 1973 Lancia Beta 1800 road test

Lancia is one of those classic and much-missed Italian car firms that produced a range of evocative – and slightly crazy – machinery.

Back in 1973 we drove the Lancia Beta 1800, which was the car tasked with replacing Lancia’s venerable Fulvia while cutting costs under new Fiat ownership by using Fiat parts. Tall order. History can tell you how Lancia fared, but take another read of our first drive to find out how the Beta 1800 fared. 

8 – 1981 Ford Escort Estate 1.6 L road test

Remember three-door estates? The concept no longer exists in the car industry (heck, even finding a three-door hatchback is pretty hard these days), but in 1981 the Ford Escort estate fared well despite lacking rear doors.

Nowadays, the only estate cars Ford sells are the five-door-only (of course) Focus estate and Mondeo estate. By the sound of things, they’ve come a long way in the past 36 years.

7 – 1989 Citroën AX GT5 first drive

The hot hatch has been around since the Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI in 1975, and it’s here to stay. Things have changed considerably, though. For one thing, there was once a choice between three or five-door variants, but you won’t find many without five doors these days.

Another thing you won’t find is a true Citroën hot hatch – the C3 range tops out with the PureTech 110 Flair which, with a -062mph time of 9.3sec, has all the sporting appeal of a pair of slippers. Perhaps that’s why people liked looking back at our first drive of the 1989 AX GT5.

6 – 1984 Seat Ibiza first drive

Right now the Seat Ibiza sits right at the very top of the today’s supermini hierarchy, but when it was first launched in 1984 the Spanish machine had a lot to prove. 

What were Autocar’s first impressions? “The engine starts easily and immediately feels willing,” we said. “Selecting first gear, the clutch take-up is smooth and drive unit mountings have obviously been designed carefully.” Not a bad start in life, then. 

5 – 1994 Bugatti EB110 GT road test

A 212mph top speed versus 275mph. A 3500cc quad-turbo V12 versus a 7993cc quad-turbo W16. Peak power of 553bhp versus 1479bhp. £285,500 versus £2,518,000. Bugatti’s progress since 1994 has certainly been easy to track, but there’s no doubt the EB110 GT was as bonkers in its time as the Chiron is today.

We drove the EB110 GT back in 1994.

4 – 1983 Lonsdale 2.6 road test

What is it? It’s an Australian-made Colt Galant. Of course it is. The Lonsdale was brought to the UK to protect the domestic market from an aggressive Japanese car industry expansion. Now the UK car industry is under threat once again, with the SMMT frequently rallying against the knock-on effects of Brexit.

3 – German tuner’s Audi Quattro estate and Audi 80-derived Quattro foor-door – 1980

Seen the Tesla Model S shooting brake and estate projects which have surfaced recently? In the early 1980s, German coachbuilder Günter Artz was creating similar automotive mash-ups using Audi components. 

Artz’s creations, an Audi Quattro estate and a four-door Quattro, were revealed to Autocar readers, with their build processes detailed at length. Now if only someone would commission that four-door TT suggested numerous times over the past few years…

2 – 1974 Matra-Simca Bagheera first drive

“Imagine if Red Bull Racing, for argument’s sake, teamed up with a road car manufacturer, not to make a squazillion-horsepower ultracar but to build an affordable, sensibly potent Toyota GT86 rival.”

That’s what the Bagheera is, the result of a link-up of leading Formula 1 chassis constructor Matra with French manufacturer Simca. What they came up with is a three-seater, hot hatch-engined entry-level sports car akin to the Subaru BRZ or Mazda MX-5. Lovely. 

1 – 1984 Austin Montego 1.6L road test

Yes, we presented you with Throwback Thursday articles featuring incredible supercars, F1-honed sports cars and reflections on some of the most significant models of all time. And which Throwback Thursday did you read the most? A look back on the Austin Montego road test. Well, why not?

At the time, we were impressed “with its lack of wind noise and general levels of mechanical refinement”. Things, you might not be surprised to learn, have moved on since then.

Read more

Autocar’s Throwback Thursday archive 

Top 10 Autocar videos of 2017

Top 10 Autocar reviews of 2017​

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