Blog : Big shoes to fill (or hello, from the new Editor)

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig CheethamIn a world of hard acts to follow, there are few harder than the man himself, Mr Keith Adams. It is, therefore, both a real honour and also something of a fright to be asked to oversee what has long been my favourite automotive website, especially as I have been something of a lurker here since the site’s inception in 2001.

First, then, a bit of background. This isn’t my day job, more something I want to do, as did Keith, for the love of British cars, and specifically those that I have owned, loved and cherished myself. The vast majority of those have worn some form of BLARG badging. I can’t say, though, that I’m available all the time, as I have a manically busy full-time job on the operations side of a media communications company. It takes up a lot of my time, as do my three young kids and my ambitiously useless attempts at being an amateur rugby player – possibly not the most sensible hobby to take up in your mid Thirties, but I’ve never been one for sane or rational thought processes, as you’ll very soon learn when I recount some of my automotive adventures… One thing is for definite, though, and that’s that I will do my level best to reply to anyone who contacts me, and will dedicate whatever time I can to this site that I, along with many of you, have valued so greatly and for so long.

My credentials for the role? For the past decade I’ve worked in senior management within the motor industry, heading up the PR Departments of both Chevrolet UK and GM Holden in Australia – a day job that precluded me from being too visible in more informal media, hence being a lurker for a long time.

Prior to that, I was a motoring journalist. As a writer for Auto Express in the years running up to MG Rover’s demise, I was one of the few motor noters who, at the time, tried to deal MG Rover an even hand. Indeed, MGR’s own PR team may have realised this, as I was lucky enough to be the first UK Motoring Journalist to take the wheel of the MG SV-R (and, indeed, be thrown sideways into a hay bale in it, courtesy of an over-enthusiastic Gwyndaf Evans). Read all about that at this link…

Ahead of my AE days, I had stints on Land Rover Owner, Classic Cars and Practical Classics, and I’m sure there’s a certain irony in the fact that I began my career on Classic Car Weekly, where Keith Adams is currently warming the Editor’s chair.

Keith and I go back a long way, and we also have quite a bit in common. We’re both exiled Northerners who’d be happy to lose a pound or two, we’ve both owned more cars than we’ve had hot baths (in my case, somewhere around 125 to date, and counting…), we both suffer from the most severe possible cases of what Keith infamously christened CPHD (Compulsive Heap Purchasing Disorder) and it’s of entirely no coincidence whatsoever that there are quite a few cars on the road, and one or two that didn’t make it, that have had both my name and Keith’s on the log book. My favourite was a Rover 420 GSi Tourer, which I bought from Keith in 2005 – if I’d known at the time how rare that car would be now, there’s no way I’d have sold it on to a friend in need of cheap transport. I’m looking for another, truth be told, but not before I’ve freed up a bit of space.

And the space issue is the real reason why I’m the kind of person who should hopefully fit in around here, for my current fleet consists of 16 cars. There are a handful of Europeans in there, notably a Volvo 240, Fiat Uno and a VW Golf GTi, but flying the flag for Britain are (on the road) a brace of Rover 800s, a 214 SEi, a Land Rover Defender, an MG ZS 180, a Jaguar X300 3.2 Sport, a Rover 25 GTi and a Land Rover Discovery Td5. In storage, I also have a 1275cc Mini (due out of hibernation just as soon as I get around to it…), an Applejack Green Allegro, a Rover 2000 P6 and a Metro Clubman. And to round it off to 16, there’s also a Peugeot 205 CJ lurking under a similar dust sheet.

So yes, you could say I have it bad. The fleet will be ever changing, and if nothing else my hopeless purchasing fails and incurable weaknesses for mundane motors should keep you entertained, if not informed. The real contributors to this site are, after all, the ones that make it the great resource it really is: those with the historical knowledge, technical know-how and ability to pull together a massive bank of detailed information and record it here for the benefit of others. You lot, in other words. Thanks to the lot of you, and it’s good to be here among friends.

Meantime, please gaze lovingly at the two images I’ve included of my Rover 827 Sterling, as I can’t imagine you’d even think of gazing lovingly at my mug shot (there’s a prize, though, for anyone who can name the car in that particular picture without looking at recent back issues of Practical Classics…). Why? Because I’ll be kicking off with the story behind it in my next blog post. Like so many of my previous mongrel Rovers, it wasn’t really worth saving – but that’s not how my mind works. And for once in my life, I think I might be surrounded by people who understand…

800front bad800back good

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

18 Comments

  1. You forgot to mention some of your other contributions to the world of shed-based journalism, Mr. C – not least Sheepskin Coates and his many spin-offs! Welcome aboard, mate – look forward to reading more from you.

  2. Big shoes for sure, hope it all goes well and I’m sure you will make an excellent editor, and I think I speak for all of us and wish you all the luck.
    And maybe we will see you at some show sometime talking all things mechanical.

  3. Welcome ! I have two cars in common with you – a 1275 Cooper S from 1965 , and a Rover 2000TC from 1970 . My other 4 classics are all British as well , but only 1 was a BMC product – a 1964 MGB

  4. Welcome to the fold and all good wishes for the editorial role, Craig.

    I particularly recall your roadtest of the Rover 75 V8 in Auto Express as being one of the more favourable of the ones I have for this model in ‘the archive’. Sadly most other journalists who got to drive this important flagship Rover were less than complimentary about its virtues. Except me, who wanted to keep that same Chatsworth supertallic example you also drove three months before I did. I am confident that more of these happy memories about MG Rover Group and its predecessors will continue to be preserved through aronline.

  5. Welcome Mr Cheetham!

    I like your Sterling (a Sterling is what I’m looking at buying right now, funnily enough). I noticed the towbar-how does it fair as a tow car out of interest?

    I’m looking forwards to reading your next blog 🙂

    Warm regards,
    Sam

  6. Hi Craig
    We met at Peterborough one year when you came along in the P6.
    You will get to know me as I will be bombarding you with my literal rubbish!

  7. Hi Craig, Nice to come out of the woods?
    Certainly have a CV there, lucky you.
    Wishing you the best in this adventure from Galicia, Spain.

  8. Good luck, this site has been excellent for all of us who grew up in the BLARG era and will prosper for years to come.

  9. Thank you all for the good wishes – I’ll be checking in again tomorrow with a bit of a soapbox rant at the DVLA (oh yes, I’m an angry individual right now…), followed by the story of my Sterling – I’ll then introduce the cars one a week from then on, as they’re much more interesting than I am…

  10. Oh I do like a good rant… Welcome onboard squire and all the best. It is big shoes to fill but your CV and penchant for motorised heaps and rants means that you will fit right in.

  11. Very glad to see you take up the helm of the best website to hang around when the boss isn’t looking.

    Also glad to hear you own a ZS (excellent choice!)

    This site was the inspiration behind setting up our page on Facebook and thus it has been pretty amazing to see some of our posts shared here.

    Heartfelt thanks for the support and we will always be happy to recommend you (to anyone who will listen basically).

  12. Hallo Craig,

    I’ve been visiting austinrover.co.uk, AROnline for circa ten years. I’m different to many contributors in that I only own one car and have only had six in my 45 years. I don’t really have any technical knowledge either. However, I have been obsessed with BL>MG UK since the age of about ten and cars like ‘The ’79 Marina’.
    For the past two years I have driven a tidy, low mileage MG ZR 105. I love it! Hoping soon to part retire the car and buy an MG3 Form Sport to run alongside it.

    I have attended Pride Of Longbridge for the past three years. I am off to Longbridge again at the end of the month for a factory tour.

    Anyway that’s a bit about me. All the best as the new Editor of AROnline. Welcome to a home of like minds!!!

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