To help celebrate Peter Robinson’s 50th year as a motoring writer, we figured he deserved one of his more challenging assignments…

RELIVING my old stories via hundreds of faded magazines, I quickly realised that the task set by editor Thomas would be close to impossible. Compile a definitive list of the best cars I’ve driven over a 50-year career? How, exactly? Despite the sheer enormity of it, one thing I began to appreciate is just how lucky I’ve been. I never, ever imagined I’d be so fortunate as to owe my livelihood to driving and writing about cars.

To the task at hand, then. Even applying the personal criteria as established with Bulgin and others, my initial list stretched to over 200. Getting it down to 59 took weeks. Eliminating that final nine took another week. Trust me, I’ve sweated over this.

A few of my great cars are remembered as great because they formed the basis for unforgettable road trips. Eliminating cars I’d not driven meant ignoring remarkable machines that deserve to be recognised as making important contributions to the history of the car.

There was another dilemma. Modern cars run rings round even the best 50-, or 40-, or 30-, or even 20-year-old icon. But still, context – the perspective of the time in which they appeared – is critically important. This is not a list of the most significant cars in the history of motoring, but it includes memorable cars that made a significant impact on me and on Wheels, and in that sense I’m applying the standards of the day to each selection.

I can’t claim my line-up to be categorically complete. Left out are some special models I’ve not yet driven. One final thought. I don’t expect anybody to agree with my 50 picks. By all means let me know what you think via the Wheels letters page, tell me if I’ve left something out or made a howler, and come up with your own list and let us know what it is.