I’VE never been shy to admit that out of the current crop of motoring writers, James Ruppert, was a big influence on my decision to take the plunge and try earning a living from the noble profession. His irreverent style made reading about used cars interesting… and his Kerbcrawler column in CAR Magazine during the late 1980s became essential reading for a budding used car buyer like me. Indeed, James’ comments at the beginning of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly would be the first thing I’d turn to each month – even before the Rover/BAe ramblings and scoops upfront in the industry section.
James’ insights into the dark and dank world of the used car trade were, of course, borne through experience – when he knocked on CAR’s door, and managed to impress Richard Bremner and Steve Cropley, he was earning an honest wage selling secondhand motors but, as we all know, one of the quickest ways of learning about human nature in a combat situation is through a trade-in negotiation.
I won’t spoil it for you – and let’s face it, we all know the plotline and the ending (carmakers consolidate, in-fight, lose sight of the opposition, get taken over by the Germans, go bust, and the cycle repeats itself in China)
I’ve corresponded with James on and off for some time now and it was flattering to discover that he’s a bit of a fan of AROnline – or, more precisely, the cars that we write about – and, unlike many in this business, is quite happy to admit having a love/hate relationship with British cars instead of just hate/hate as many like to pretend…
I was, then, pretty thrilled when James got in touch with me a while back to let me know he was writing a book on the subject. After months of waiting, it turned up and I was so excited that I blogged (well, posted James’ words) about the book before I managed to finish it – possibly a bad thing to do. However, as it happens, now I have finished the book, I was right to rave about it.
Basically, from start to finish it’s a thumping good read and, although some people might question the production values and reproduction of the pictures, they’d do well to get past that quickly and just enjoy the thing… I won’t spoil it for you – and, let’s face it, we all know the plotline and the ending (carmakers consolidate, in-fight, lose sight of the opposition, get taken over by the Germans, go bust, and the cycle repeats itself in China), but James’ take on it is both personal, honest and deadly accurate. The notion of using his family as a microcosm for the country at large is very, very clever.
There’s also a great deal of humour in there, too…
So, if you fancy an alternative take on the subject you all love and have £15 to spare in the run up to Christmas, do yourself a favour: buy a copy and stick it on your bedside table. You’ll love it.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.