I don't get to England as often as I used to.
When I do, I always try to find Minstrels candies for our editor, and as many British automobile magazines as I can carry.
I use them as a metaphor transplant - I figure the Brits have been dealing with our language for a lot longer than we have; it stands to reason they use it very well.
Might as well borrow when you can. Steal from one source, that's plagiarism; steal from many sources, that's research.
It always amazes me how England can produce so many huge, high-quality car mags when their circulations are a fraction of their equivalents on this continent. Their advertising rates/production cost ratio must be totally different, or, as one ex-pat suggested, the fact that subscriptions are a much smaller part of their business model means more copies are sold at full cover price.
No Dick Clark/Ed McMahon low-ball subscription systems over there, I guess.
It is faintly amusing how these magazines seem to expect supercar handling prowess from even the cheapest crap-can Diesel-powered econobox - 'terminal understeer coming out of the roundabouts at full chat!' - but they're always fun to read.
It is generally agreed that CAR is the world's best English-language car magazine, although like all publications, it has had its ups and downs.
It has not been above the occasional subterfuge to claim a scoop, as when Georg Kacher wrote his 'driving impression' of the Dodge Viper some years ago. In the index, probably crafted by an intern, it said something to the effect that 'our man' drives the Viper. If you read the story carefully, nowhere does it actually SAY that Kacher drove the car; in fact he was a passenger with then-Chrysler boss Bob Lutz driving.
Oh well, they were first to print.
I was all ready to point out that they sometimes make misteaks (hey, who doesn't?) In the most recent issue I have (October 2008) they state that Mike Kimberly left Lotus for a 'top job with Lotus's then-parent General Motors in 1991, later running Lamborghini for them."
What? General Motors never owned Lamborghini! Chrysler did, yes.
Then I figured, OK, maybe that 'for them' was not intended to refer to General Motors, although it sure reads that way.
I would never get away with something like that; obviously, Wheels has better copy editors than CAR.
Sometimes they do get a bit carried away with those metaphors. The beautifully- if improbably-named Anthony ffrench-Constant gets so wrapped up in them that occasionally you forget what he is talking about.
The British references are also sometimes a bit opaque to us Colonials. If you didn't grow up watching Dr. Who on TV, you have no idea what a 'Tardis-like' interior is.
And while 'chauvinism' is based on a French word, it is no stranger to CAR's pages. Everything British is brilliant, everything American is crap. Example: in a Moroccan road trip story on the fabulous Audi R8, author Nick Trott waxes lyrical over the car's "Magnetic Ride" system, without mentioning that this system was invented by Delco, a former General Motors division, and was first used on various Cadillacs and Corvettes.
A deliberate omission, or just not enough space to include everything?
If I didn't see this sort of thing all the time, I'd give them the benefit of my considerable doubt.
They love Porsches (why not?) They hate BMW styling chief Chris Bangle - there are at least four pejorative references to the American-born iconoclast in this issue alone.
(No wait - he IS American. That might be enough.)
But they are seldom dull.
And I guess that's why we like them.
Most of the time.