The far greater influence was the proximity of the nearest car dealership and as Ford had hundreds more than anyone else in the country at the time, people would be more likely to turn to the Blue Oval in the first instance than anyone else. And then they were in the hands of the marketing machine: the brochures, the coffee mornings, the friendly and familiar face of the dealer principal… Ford may been rubbish at building cars back then, but that scarcely mattered when it was so damn good as selling them. And if Ford sold one car, it would likely sell dozens to the same family for decades to come. In an era of often almost unquestioned customer loyalty, it was just too easy for them. No one ever got to drive anything else and realise just what they were missing.
But I always thought that we car journos would have more influence over the fate of cars aimed at proper drivers, rather than mass market tin box transport, and I think that, to an extent, we have. I think, for instance that much or even most of the stratospheric status now enjoyed by Porsche’s fabled GT cars is a result of what has been written about them in the specialist press. I’m even arrogant enough to think that in the probably quite unlikely event Porsche produced an absolute clunker of a GT3, our revelation of that fact would have an affect on its prospects in the marketplace.
Which is why when the Alpine A110 turned out to be such a great car, I was sure its success was a given. This wasn’t just a really good sports car, it was genuine game-changer, one that defied existing thinking by being not that fast either in a straight line or around a corner, but by thumbing its nose at such over-rated conventions and focussing purely on being brilliant to drive. We would lift it up to where it belonged into the pantheon of world class sports cars of all eras.