Magazine Rewind: CAR, September 1977 – Which Is The Best Car In The World?

Last week, CC saw a drive story piece from CAR from August 1977 which took the Jaguar XJ5.3C from London to Budapest. Aside from a mechanical failure in a bought in sub-system (the GM gearbox), all went well, and the magazine clearly impressed.

So impressed, that the next month, they seemingly put their new candidate up against the Rolls-Royce Siver Shadow, the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 and the 1977 Cadillac Seville. All cars that would have considered themselves in some markets or aspects, as being the best in the world. But what did CAR think, expect and find?

The cover gives the answer, and on the British newsstand in 1977 against a background (and indeed contemporary newspaper headlines) of BL strife and failure, product wise, business wise and of hope, such a headline may be excusable.

In its favour, the Jaguar (actually a top spec Daimler Double Six version) led on refinement, comfort and ride quality, edging the Rolls-Royce, whilst also beating the Mercedes as a driver’s car.

The Mercedes was considered to a superb sports saloon, not a luxury limousine. Understood that way, it makes great sense; otherwise, it looks fast but sparsely trimmed and equipped, if superbly built.

The Cadillac gets a better report than perhaps the stereotypes might have predicted. Refined, quiet, better than the Rolls-Royce in some ways. Maybe not of universal appeal or taste, but a lot better and better suited to Europe than might have been expected.

And the Rolls-Royce?  Perhaps the big loser in this test – beyond the craftsmanship and image, the car proves to lagging in key areas – quietness, ride, steering, brakes, engine.

I read this at a formative age; the impression has endured.