So… what now? 2016 Review and some plans for 2017


2016 has been an interesting year for me and cars. Even though the year is far from over, I have a lot on over the festive period and none of it involves cars. I have mountains of work to get through and then I am jetting off to the Canary Islands with my family over the Christmas week.

There probably isn’t really much point to this latest piece, I just feel like getting my thoughts on 2016 and plans for 2017 on paper. Maybe it will spur me on to actually make more of them happen.

The majority of the past year has been pretty mundane and uneventful if I am being honest, I did not get to go to half as many shows and get together’s as I’d planned, I had to pass up on a few really exciting test drives and all in all it has been a bit anti-climactic. However, the few things I did actually get to do this year were all very memorable and great experiences. It is tough to put them in a list from bests to worst, but The 24 Hours of Le Mans 2016 was definitely the highlight of this year. When I had my Mercedes CL500 a few years ago, I swore I would give it one last hurrah before I got rid of it and I stayed true to my word by driving it to Maranello and back via Monaco and I would do it again every week if I still had the car. It was similar for my wonderful S350l, I have been talking about changing it for a very long time, like over a year, but the right time never seemed to come up, until a few months ago when I finally sorted it all out. And Le Mans was basically the final drive for that.

For some reason, I spend a lot of my time day dreaming about steaming across Europe in a big luxury car like my old CL500, or a Bentley GT or and Aston DBS and driving the S class to Le Mans was a bit of a reality for me. It eats up French motorways and an eight hour drive feels like a nip to the shop. We spent the first few days of our trip in Chinon in the Loire Valley wine tasting and stocking up for the race which we were planning on getting too by lunch time on the Wednesday. We got to the Speed Chills campsite within the Beausejour site at about 10:30 due to some very clear French roads and we set up camp for what was soon to be one of the best camping experiences of my life. And on a side note, I cannot compliment the Speed Chills crew enough. There were a lot of rain related issues on the site like flooding and so on but they were all really helpful and the regulars were all great. The race was one hell of an experience and I cannot wait to plan another one. I would be here all night if I started going in to the details of why it is just to good, but really, you need to go yourself to find out! Needless to say, I will be going again and we are already talking about incorporating a trip in 2017 to fit in with my mates’ wedding wine buying plans!


Another great highlight of 2016 was my Jaguar F-Pace experience day at Millbrook Proving Ground. Unfortunately, due to their intense on site security, I don’t have any pictures from the day, but it was a great day. Getting to test the new F-Pace in a variety of environments including hill climbs and descents, the alpine circuit and being thrown about on the rally course. Another bonus from the day was taking an F-Type Coupe out on the Alpine circuit for a blast. I was really impressed with the F-Pace, it was a very capable car and I personally think it looks great. I’d have one over an Evoque, I think…

2017 is looking like it could be a good year, there is not much in the diary yet, apart from a test day with Tesla in the new Model X at the start of the year, but my plans are to really get myself out there and behind the wheel of more cars. I have been very lucky in the way that I have driven a lot of Porsches, Ferraris and Mercedes AMGs over the years but I think it is time for me to really start trying and experiencing the other cars out there like the new McLarens, the new R8 and so on… I am also planning on doing a few 4×4 days with Land Rover as I have just bought one. Unfortunately it’s not a lairy jacked up Defender or even a nicely specced Discovery 4, it is a very highly specced Freelander 2 that I have bought off of my mother to help her move out to Spain. It is the seventh car I have bought/sold this year, so who knows how I will actually keep it…

Another thing I want to look into more is the luxury market. Having owned an S class, an A8 and a CL class and also being able to drive the Bentley GT and the Flying Spur, I would like to see how far things have come since I last drove one a few years ago. I am hoping next year will be a big one. I will be turning 30 in early January and I kind of want to make it a year to remember. I have set myself a fair few plans for both my personal and professional life so fingers crossed I can get out there and make them happen!

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James Ford is a UK-based automotive journalist and enthusiast who has been working with and writing about cars for many years. James recently won the 2019 UK Blog Awards for Automotive Writing. With a focus on luxury, prestige and supercars as well as a keen eye on classics, James reaches tens of thousands of four-wheel fans through his mix of social photography, videos and longer-form journalism. Over the years, James has tested and written about many brands like Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Audi, Aston Martin, Bentley, Tesla, Mercedes Benz to name a few.