Not so long ago ‘heritage’ appeared to be a dirty word in the automotive business. 

New trumped old and, if you’ve sat through as many dry press briefings as I have, any reference to a particular car maker’s long and illustrious – or even chequered – past must have happened when I was catching a crafty forty winks before the Q and A session at the end.

Now heritage is cool again – the concept has even been known to help sell a few cars. 

This is a big deal for motoring hacks who have yet to purchase their own first-gen MX-5 or complain about how much their Series 1 Land Rover restoration project is costing them. Why? Because it means you get to drive cars owned by other people with the funds to keep them in good nick. 

Selfish? Yes and no. It’s important to experience old stuff so you can put the new stuff into context. Is the shiny new tin box a genuine step forward? Has as much progress as claimed really been made in the last quarter century, for example, or is the marketing guff just that?

There’s no denying that the motivation for badgering someone for a go in something old is also driven by a personal desire to satisfy one’s curiosity. And it’s at times like these that you realise that your job isn’t all bad. 

Someone’s entrusted you with a rather special car and all the baggage that entails, so don’t take the Mickey but do enjoy the experience and marvel at how bad the brakes are.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to manufacturers who have dined out on their past glories over the years, but that’s not always the case. If you’re going to make wild claims about a new car trading on the glories of past exploits, let’s see some old metal and a commitment to educating the keen youngsters on the magazines and the bloggers still residing in their bedrooms. 

The latest hot hatch isn’t necessarily the ‘best’ or ‘ultimate’ product you’ve driven – you might want to hold your horses until you’ve driven the mark one or two of the family before writing that bombastic headline.

My point? If I’m honest I’m not sure I’ve got one. As anyone old enough who attended the five-day launch for the Morris Beige in the mid 1970s will tell you, the golden days of motoring are well and truly over. The march towards increased control and enforcement might be slow but we will get there, most likely in a car without a steering wheel.

Before Google becomes as synonymous as Hoover in the domestic appliance market and MX-5 values reach silly money, you’d be wise to sample as much old stuff as you can. 

Partly for nostalgia reasons, and partly so you can tell the blogger community what they missed while they were dreaming about an all expenses paid trip to drive a new mass produced supermini in a congested European city.

Living the dream? Hardly. True enjoyment comes from re-learning to press the middle pedal of something built before I was born.

Damn hard when out for a 30mph ‘blast’.

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