No one who remembers the appalling slapped-together assembly of cars of the 60s and 70s would deny that today's vehicles are better quality. Yet the current unprecedented number of recall campaigns appears to give the lie to this fact. In 1966, some 800,000 vehicles were recalled for rectification; in 2000 we had 24m, up from 17m as recently as 1998. Even given the substantial increase in sales, this is going to take some explanation to the many owners inconvenienced by having to traipse back to the dealer for rectification again and again. By Bert Wyatt