Blog: Dave LeggettThe decade that was

Dave Leggett | 16 December 2009

I've just recently finished a review of the main events and highlights (including some lowlights) of 2009 - which will be available soon in the management briefings area of just-auto. It certainly was an eventful year wasn't it kids? But as someone put it to me yesterday, what about a review of the decade, Dave? That certainly stopped me in my tracks. Anyway, I'm working on something that will be on just-auto early next week.

Plenty of ground to cover: Jac Nasser's name was one of the first to pop into my head from the early part of the decade (along with the Explorer Bridgestone/Firestone storm); Daewoo once threatened to sue us and then backed down when they realised we wouldn't; Marchionne rescued Fiat; DaimlerChrysler came undone; China's automotive industry came of age; Russia's automotive bubble took a while to get going, eventually inflated and then promptly burst; Japan wallowed in near-recession but its companies didn't do too badly; and then there were Piech's power games... 

Some personal observations: I really enjoyed a solo drive from Detroit to Indianapolis and then back again after I'd interviewed Nick Scheele. Tehran was actually a fascinating place to visit in 2003 (especially the British Embassy, ostensibly Club Med-like, but with evidence of grenade damage; good bar in there, large G&Ts with the official briefings) and to see Hillman Hunters still being built, next to Peugeot 206s, well, it was a sight to behold, even if they wouldn't let me take pictures. Delhi was fab though the poverty on the streets was shocking; same story in Beijing, which my culture shocked colleague actually enjoyed after I stuck a few cocktails down him in one of the many plush hotel bars.

And I have met some great people and interviewed some, too. I won't name names here as I'd have to go through a long, long list....

There have been some odd moments from the last ten years that spring to mind, also. There was the time I walked happily and blissfully unaware of the unholy mess on the underside of my shoes and trod what can only be described as Mr Whippy-like doggie do-do through my Bangkok hotel's swanky lobby all the way - via the elevator/lift and some insanely deep-pile carpet on my hotel floor - directly to my hotel room. I sat down, exhausted after a long day, and looked back towards the door. The footprints told a sorry story that my nose was now corroborating. 

You never know when life may slap you around the face a bit. Come to think of it, there was another occasion on a Eurostar train when things got a bit weird. Ah, the joys of travelling.

I never tired of visiting European places, though. The national park area around Lisbon - Sintra (no, not that Opel/Vaux MPV mistake) - and the coast around there is a place I really recommend. Paris is a great city if you know where to go. German sausage and beer? What's not to like (along with their approach to life, not quite like ours in Britain, but you have to love it; the engineering, the engineering...). I still really enjoy visiting Frankfurt and the IAA. But it will now always be associated, for me, with the fateful day that was to become known as 9/11, simply because that's where I was when the unbelievable news hit, bit by horrible bit.

Barcelona, Milan, Torino, Munich, Geneva - I am eternally grateful to be fortunate enough to occasionally visit such places through my work. Even a wet January day in Vigo has its plus points. Ah, and speaking of inclement weather, I recall the Baltic island of Gotland and its Gotland Ring circuit in driving October rain, a BMW 1 Series coupe heroically kept out of the kitty litter. Well, let's just say it got the old ticker going.

I have had quite a few trips across the Atlantic over the decade and unfailingly loved them all, not just the road trips. Yes, even Detroit, which I like even more because it's up against it, economically speaking, and not quite giving in.

Observations on the industry? You'll get them next week in that article. 


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