Looking back at the last 12 months of motoring
Approaching the start of any January, one must always be optimistic about the outlook ahead. It’s vital to inwardly, discreetly, whisper to oneself, with some forceful conviction: ‘THIS is going to be my year.’ In December 2021, winding up what actually turned out be a fantastic, fruitful and fun month, there was undoubtedly more confidence than usual in that forward-looking affirmation for 2022.
A good year was certainly much needed after the abysmal trials and tribulations of a tumultuous term of cancelled plans, repealed projects and paused professional progress, largely thanks to the pandemic-induced lockdowns.
However, 2022, as it turned out, was not, quite, ‘my year’. But it got close. Damn, it was close. Roll on 2023! Meanwhile…
Things bode well when the motoring year kicks off with the mighty Mustang Mach 1 as the first test car to see me grip the wheel of. With race settings on and the grunt of the world’s most popular muscle car to contend with, it would be unfair to imply that 2022 got off to a slow start.
The updated MG ZS EV, and the Toyota Yaris Cross reviews, plus a Kia Sportage launch event, and trip up to the Scottish Highlands to peddle the surprisingly entertaining Mazda CX-5 SUV, on some of the best driving roads in the country! I NEED to go back there some – probably in the summer. Trip up in the E30 perhaps? 🤔 What E30? See March below!
This was truly a blessed month for personal motoring satisfaction, that’s for sure!
I love muscle cars, it’s what I miss the most about the UAE. Imagine my delight then, when Ford lent me a Mustang GT convertible on a three-month long-term loan? The delirium was tempered only by rising fuel prices. The war in Ukraine, which started after Russia invaded the country in February, was already starting to have an impact on fuel costs by this time.
Mustangs will always be a highlight of any motoring year, but something else rather special, or perhaps foolhardy (time will tell), happened this month. Covering the Classic Restoration Show at the NEC in Birmingham and producing a video on the British Car Auction line-up at the event, I noticed a superbly presented 1989 BMW E30 325i SE. It was similar to one of the cars I owned in the past and truly missed so much to this day, a 1988 325i SE a two-door in dark blue. The NEC car was also a two-door but in black, with BBS alloys, plus black leather upholstery and an M-Sport steering wheel. It was better.
And after the online auction the following day, it was mine. Returning with some trepidation after the show to collect it, was this impulse purchase a big mistake or a great opportunity grabbed? Driving it back, first signs were good. Very good.
Actually, the BMW turned out to be something of a time-warp machine serving up a much-needed dose of the elixir of youth. Driving it, feels like I’m back in my late-20s. It even smells the same. And it drives not just as well as I remember but maybe better, certainly in the context of the largely dreary metal that surrounds us these days.
Drove a plethora of amazing new cars at the SMMT media driving day at Milbrook. These included the Mercedes EQS, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Genesis G80, Lexus NX 450h Hybrid and BMW iX. Also reviewed the rather excellent and astonishingly enjoyable BMW i4 M50 electric car. The drive of the day though, had to be the Alpine A110 GT. It was also a moment of pride to record seven car review videos in one day! All while I was fasting, as it fell within the month of Ramadan (click for Ramadan Driving Guide)! I impressed myself.
Also had my first visit to a petrolhead palace, Caffeine and Machine, invited by Ford to celebrate 58 years of the Mustang, and obviously drove up in the Stang!
There was a visit to the first London-based Salon Prive and finally took the BMW E30 up to The Project Shop in Bicester where they gave it a once-over and, much to my relief, a clean bill of health. I guess sometimes, even I get lucky!
There was also some promotional work for the 2022 British Motor Show with Mike Brewer, and other celebs including, Greg Searle, Iwan Thomas and Abi Stephens which involved some running around and thrashing a Caterham on an Autocross track. Again, all while fasting!
Back at the Project Shop to get the BMW serviced with a cambelt change. Also this month, met a guy (owner of Sheesh Chigwell) with John Wick’s Mustang. Stunning car, but I couldn’t help thinking he’d better give it back quick! Meanwhile said a sad farewell to my own action hero companion of recent months, the Ford Mustang GT. There are few, if any brand new cars, that are as cool as a Stang!
With news out that ULEZ was mooted to be expanded to cover the whole of Greater London, I put up a video that got a lot of attention. But perhaps not quite enough to change anything. It’s personal because having rekindled my E30 love affair after nearly 25 years, when the ULEZ expansion comes into force at the end of August next year, I’ll have to part with it again. 😢
Car event season well and truly in swing and it’s nice to be able to attend with my own car to put on show. I love covering shows, because they’re fun, you get to see some amazing cars, find out new things, meet some great people, make new connections and it also helps to get the BrownCarGuy brand out there.
Attended the Newspress Automotive Media Industry Awards, was nominated in the Best Video category. Didn’t win, but was the only one to get a Special Mention – “Knowledgeable and likeably geeky approach, he drifts between thoughtfully produced and erratically esoteric.” I really love that! Reviewed the new Kia Niro at the UK media drive.
On a personal note, a proud parent moment as son, Junaid, graduated with a First at Coventry University in Media Production. And then time for break as we headed off for a family holiday back to Pakistan. Or was it really a break? Surely it will be too hot to do any content in Karachi right?
So much for a relaxing holiday month, August turned into the most packed, intense and indeed professionally satisfying month of the year! Had a specially organised ‘BrownCarGuy Car Meet’ in Pakistan in association with the Antique Cars Museum of Pakistan and Pakistan Café Racers.
Checked out the progress at the new Omni Karting Circuit which I first covered during my last visit in December 2021. There was no driving around the track this time, because it was flooded! But the consistent perseverance, optimism and humour of the team at Omni remains truly inspiring.
And if that wasn’t enough, interviewed the author of a new book, the first time a publication chronicles automotive history, business and culture in Pakistan. Plus attended the surprise launch of the Jaxeri Nur-E, Pakistan’s first home-grown EV. Finally one of the highlights of the trip and, indeed the year, rode at the head of classic car convoy celebrating the landmark 75th Independence Day of Pakistan in the actual Rolls-Royce used by founder Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten in which they rode in 1947 to sign the official declaration of Independence. Wow. That was a memorable moment!
Then flew back to London early, leaving the family behind to get straight into hosting Tech Theatre at the British Motor Show. Somehow still managed to squeeze in the media drive of the most affordable new EV in the UK, the MG4, and attended two further events – the Silverstone Classic and Salon Prive at Blenheim Palace.
Even now I can’t quite comprehend how all that happened in just 31 days.
Thankfully there was a slowdown in pace in September, but no easing off the throttle as I managed to review an 80s hot hatch icon, the Peugeot 205 GTI, interview two Pakistanis operating at the highest echelons of the international automotive industry (Dr Khurshid Qureshi & Farrukh Kamran) – I feel we need a platform to celebrate such ‘Diversity in Automotive’ – and attended probably my favourite classic car event of the year, the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace.
Another classic car review, this time a 90s Mercedes SL, plus the updated Kia XCeed and Suzuki S-Cross, along with a trip over to beautiful Slovenia with Nissan to drive the X-Trail. Always great to do a podcast with BehindTheWheel.Life (this was my third, but the first ‘in-person’ and also an inaugural on-the-spot car quiz I was subjected too – you’ll have to watch the video to see how I did!). Then onto a two-day gig as Conference Coordinator for the London Climate Tech Show.
Attended a UK media drive day for Volkswagen, where I finally reviewed the ID3 and ID5. Was also invited by Genesis though the Southern Group of Motoring Writers (of which I’m a member) where I reviewed the Genesis GV60 and GV70 EV. And attended the first UK media drive of the all-new electric car brand from China, the GWM Ora Funky Cat, which is actually quite an astonishing new offering.
Packed in the massive NEC Classic Car Show, along with three days working at the second London EV Show as Conference Coordinator. Meanwhile the next ULEZ expansion was confirmed as going ahead next year, resulting in probably one of my highest viewed videos and indeed video content of the year, as passions run very strong against this somewhat draconian measure, especially at a time when people are struggling with the rising cost of living crisis.
Even on a freezing cold December morning there was a car meet to attend (Autoism at Duke of London) and of course content-creation never ends. However, thankfully a quieter and calmer end to a pretty eventful year, but not one without promise and potential.
So while also celebrating 25th years of wonderful marriage, we look to 2023 with renewed optimism and ask once again, is this going to be the elusive ‘my year’? We can only hope for the best, and as rally drivers used to say, give it ‘maximum attack’!
Thanks so much to those who have been supporting BrownCarGuy content though sponsorship!
Tom Conway-Gordon (https://www.instagram.com/anycoloursolongasits_black/)
And many others! 🙏🏽☺️