Blog : To think it’s less than 20 years ago…

Keith Adams

Reading through my back issues of CAR Magazine to research a feature about the Jaguar X300, I unearthed a brilliant piece that I’d forgotten all about. Back in 1994, TV journalist Michael Kirsch had trekked into the war zone of Bosnia-Herzegovina to extricate three locals who’d saved his life a year previously and subsequently become his friends.

I won’t spoil the story for you – and you can click on it here to read it for yourself – but it certainly brings into focus just what a troubled past we’ve had in Europe. The Balkan conflict was a long way from being resolved when this story was published in November 1994 and, for me, it’s amazing and incredibly sad to think that this was going on – on our doorstep – less than a decade ago.

However, it’s equally uplifting to see just how far Europe’s progressed since the dawn of the 21st century. There’s complete freedom of movement within the European Union (EU27) and it’s largely peaceful and conflict-free now. It would be nice to think that commercialism has won over the idiocy of religion and politics and that people Europe-wide will be able to enjoy the freedom we now take for granted for all the future…

Oh dear, that sounds like some socio-political rant. So, er, sorry about that.

That aside, I also began to wonder whether we’ll ever see stories like this again in mainstream motoring magazines? Could you imagine the super-slick media and PR-savvy CAR Magazine running a story with a rusty Marina in it like this – despite the amazing story underpinning it? There’s no supercar content and the driver of the car wasn’t enjoying the benefits and safety of a manufacturer-supplied new car (and back-up crew) to see him safely to his destination. The fact is that Michael Kirsch could have died on that trip. Nowadays, we need to look to Sam Glover’s exploits in Practical Classics.

Is it me, but isn’t a really good road trip all about overcoming adversity and meeting all kinds of weird and wacky characters along the way? Anyway, enjoy the story and, if you want more back-catalogue stuff like this uploading in future months, I’m always happy to take suggestions.

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Editor at AROnline and @hjclassics. Likes cars, taking pictures, travelling and knee-high boots...

9 Responses

  1. francis brett francis brett - December 1, 2013

    I remember this article with fondness.

  2. Kev Sharp - December 1, 2013

    It’s a shame that the gearbox blew up on the way back. If it had made it back I’m betting the Marina would be remembered for something other than a prop for carrying out NCAP testing on Pianos.

  3. The Wolseley Man - December 1, 2013

    Great item Keith – without even going into the library (posh for loft) can I mention Darien Gap?

  4. VAGDave - December 2, 2013

    I’d forgotten about this one too. It’s a great story of a very dangerous undertaking and as you say Keith, worlds apart from the road trip articles featured in CAR nowadays.

    My other favourite CAR escapade of the early 90′s was the ‘Edinburgh on a Monkey’ feature where two writers had to buy an old banger and be the first to reach Edinburgh. A forerunner to the Top Gear challenges…

  5. Will M - December 2, 2013

    I remember a similar article whereby a journo took a Lada out of Serbia with his friend hidden in a secret compartment in the boot. Must’ve been heart in mouth at the border checkpoint.

    Nowadays the article would likely be
    “Audi kindly let us borrow their new A3 TDi, and as I cruised through Syria admiring the softtouch plastics and tactile buttons I couldn’t help but apply a dab of oppo on the mountain pass. Unfortunately that was the end of the journey, the road was unpassable due to a huge 5cm pothole.”


    I vaguely remember something similar in which they bought and sold a Sierra for less than the cost of a rail ticket.

  6. Will M - December 2, 2013

    Sorry it was that same article….

    (For some reason I remembered it as a Lada rather than a Marina)


  7. Kevin Steele - December 3, 2013

    Great story – I’ve got that issue up in the loft I think….September ’92 issue of CAR had a hilarious corker of a used car challenge in it as well (that I still dig out and read every couple of years) called “Pistons at Dawn” which featured a £500 Capri versus a £750 RX-7.

    Alas – maybe this kind of “real world” motoring journalism will come back when we get tired of Clarkson and Co thrashing impractical, unaffordable dream cars around a test track.

    Sometimes I DO miss Sue Baker or William Woolard on Top Gear complaining that the ashtray is in the wrong place!

  8. The Wolseley Man - December 4, 2013

    Will M @5
    Absolutely brilliant! Sums up modern UK motor journalism in one sentence. As I have said before on this site – we will never see journalism like that of Ian Fraser, Mel Nichols, George Bishop, Steady Barker and Doug Blain ever again (although Doug is of course the publisher of the very best Vintage car mag – The Automobile). Why? Because when Car started in the very early 60′s they were all virtually penniless writers and couldn’t give a toss about getting into bed with anyone (metaphorically speaking of course!) Later, when becoming a real ‘cult’ magazine bought by the discerning few – they revelled in that exclusivity and majored on it. No current magazine can afford to upset significant manufacturers – the Bean Counters will kill it stone dead! It’s a different era. “Were’e all doomed” (bloke in Dad’s Army was right).

  9. The Wolseley Man - December 4, 2013

    Oh – sorry – forgot the greatest of them all (sadly no longer with us) Leonard J Setright. The only man who could write a four page article on the flawed practice of chroming wire wheels – and make it interesting!

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