THE HOOK Shining the spotlight on this month’s hot topic Car of the Year


The second time the award was withheld was 1979, the year Ford’s XD Falcon was launched. “The XD’s performance of intended function betrays its basically antiquated mechanicals”. Ford responded by placing its now famous advert in the June 1980 issue that read: “There are times when being a lemon is not a bitter experience at all.” Who’s bitter?

Th wi pe be m pl Ju tim bi Pranging a test car leads to public humiliation in an industry thrives on gossip r ation that sip

Peter Robinson


The number of scheduled dinners that anyone at COTY 2014 turned up to on time. In the case of the shooters and film crew, they barely made it before closing time


Shots of coffee consumed over seven days at COTY 2014. That equates to 31 a day, much of which was by caffeine fancier, and serious addict, John Carey


The price of the cheapest COTY 2014 entrant, the Honda Jazz. The most expensive was the Mercedes S-Class, topping $400K in S65 AMG guise


The first front-wheel-drive car to win the award is the Morris 1100.

Renault’s 12 followed in 1970


Ford becomes the first car-maker to take out successive awards – in ’65 for the XP Falcon and ’66 for the XR


Robbo’s first year as COTY judge, crowning the VH Valiant Charger.

The following year, he withheld the award


Imported cars are eligible for the first time, though the title is taken out by the locally assembled VW Golf Mk1

Keep on rollin’

There have been a few offs over the years, but the first, and only, rollover sparked a war of words with Toyota. We blamed the car; Toyota blamed our driver and test procedures. The COTY judges fingered the Kluger’s late-acting ESC as a key contributor to the controversy. Bad blood ensued.

Ad dollars vanished. But the 86’s COTY win in 2012 made amends.

Now in its 52nd year, the Wheels Car of the Year award has had its share of highs and lows

No means no

The first supercharged AMG – the SL55 – wasn’t supposed to be driven on dirt. Robbo called for its exclusion because “if it can’t complete the testing, then it’s out”. So we drove it on dirt. And had a ball.

T s


The total value of the entire 2014 COTY field, including each and every derivative provided by the manufacturer for testing


Highest possible safety score, achieved by no fewer than six different Mercedes-Benz models.

Not surprisingly, the S-Class achieved top points, but so did the smaller C-Class


Average price of COTY’s 2014 field


COTY’s first joint winners – the front-drive Mazda 626 and its Ford Telstar twin. The Ford was styled in Broadmeadows


Mitsubishi does a COTY double with Nimbus (’84) and Magna (’85).

TV ads proclaim “Car maker of the year. Again”


Toyota ends the 80s on a high as the Lexus LS400 scoops the pool, with the ‘egg’ Tarago finishing runner-up


Centre-rear lapsash belt becomes mandatory for eligibility. Holden quickly rectifies Barina’s seatbelt status and wins


Mazda MX-5 wins, despite lacking ESC. Wrap party hosted by MX-5’s Bose stereo – blasted, top down, in motel carpark