Motoring In AD 2000


Article in Autocar July 66. By Raymond Baxter


I originally wrote this in 1996 (comments brackets) 4 years before the forecast, now we are in 2012 so its 12 years past the forecast so lets go back over the forecasts and see if its any better. Any new comments will be in the same type ( Eurostile )

The article was in two parts, Gloom / Possibilities.

Some of the gloom forecast.


1. Blanket legislation has been carried forward to logical conclusion and every traffic lane is subject to its individual speed limit and all overtaking and lane changing is illegal. ( We are almost there, the variable speed limits on motor way lanes is with us now. )

Still not there yet.


2. Cars are indistinguishable from each other except in colour (Seems to be part true now) and even the colour of cars are governed by regulation from the Ministry of Fine Arts on aesthetic grounds ( From the colour of some cars today you would think its true ) and Ministry of Transport on grounds that it governs everything concerning transport including wheel size on roller skates which are gaining popularity amongst commuters, and therefore heavily taxed.( Not that bad yet but with four years to go and a chance of a loony left government watch out )

Now its gone completely the other way with cars in all sorts of colours, so that’s way out. The original part was I’m sure tongue in cheek.


3. The northbound carriageway of the M1 is closed for the year to construct its fourth lane, speed limit 32 MPH ( In 66 they did not realise a ring road (M25) would become the most heavily used road in England ) The equivalent lane southbound was completed in 1984 ( Wrong again ) but the labour force was disbanded and the equipment sent to Zambia from which it has not been returned ( Sounds about right for any government ) and now the government is hiring equipment from Luxembourg at huge extra expense. ( Perhaps in 66 they had an inkling of the common market )

Now we have started extra lanes on the M25 to stop it being the longest car park in the world, so the forecasting for the number of cars to be on the roads was way out.

4. The chairman of British Leyland who is also President of Society of Motor Traders, Who's nationalised company is the only British Manufacturer, ( Maggie’s denationalisation sorted that out mind you even Rovers not British any more ) Pointed out the problem of selling British cars abroad ( 200 last year ) due to peculiarities of home product ( Perhaps the common market is a good thing for car conformity ) due to the latest Construction and Use Act, and other Road Legislation. The prohibition of reverse gears is a typical example, A measure introduced after a long campaign by the National Safety Council against the dangerous habit of driving backwards. ( Does this sound almost like today's so called safety groups when it comes to cars )

It seems the nutters are still out there with them trying to have a 25mph speed limit, then lets go to 20mph then 15mph and 10mph and 5mph and finally cars can not move at all.

This answer is to educate pedestrians that roads are for cars and not for pedestrians to wander on to whenever they feel like it, we should send them to USSR where if you are knocked down by a car and were not on a crossing with the traffic stopped you are at fault and have to pay for the car to be repaired. That would soon stop pedestrians stepping out into the road whenever and were ever they please.

Now lets try the brighter forecast.


1. Materials now allow machine moulded body work which gives designers greater freedom in the shaping of cars and owners have light tough rattle free permanently finished beautiful body work. ( Not sure about that lot, most of is dull grey or black and if it gets a bump it costs more to replace than having steel body work beaten out and re sprayed. )

Yes now the plastic panels are colour matched the same as the steel ones but now still more expensive than steel. As for designers greater freedom, nearly all the cars look the same, and even share parts and engines.


Cars will be moulded in two halves and bonded together. ( If this comes true wouldn't today's crooked joiners of right off cars front and back ends have an easy job)

This is almost stopped now with the central reporting of all car major damage and the removal of log books/V5C when a car is written off.


2. Drive trains i.e. gear boxes would have plastic gears for silent running and be filled with special lubrication and sealed for life. ( Not much progress in this field as plastics can not take the shock loading most drivers would apply, Even auto gear boxes still stick to steel gears for most part )

Yes we do have non steel gears (not plastic) in F1 where weight is important but not in road cars as steel diamond cut gears are cheaper.


3. Automatically controlled independent drive to all wheels is achieved hydraulically or electrically consequently it is impossible to lock or spin any wheel or pair of wheels. ( Well as we all know the wheel lock up problem has been cured ahead of time not with independent wheel drive but with anti lock brakes, i.e. the ABS system, As for wheel spin the Traction Control Systems are already being fitted to some cars so we are a early on that one to)

Yes we do have hydraulically and electrically driven wheels but nothing to do with wheel spin and all to do with fuel economy and less co2 emissions.


4. Advances in solar batteries "cells" and electric motors means even Britain has enough sunshine for electric cars.( Not yet and there will have to be some real breakthrough in solar cells design for them to work in the good old UK , and as for battery electric cars the recharging from mains power creates more pollution than a modern petrol engine mile for mile)


Yes we have full electric cars but the short running distance is still a problem and their biggest problem is they are not green (pollution free ) in fact they produce more pollution than modern combustion engines due to the generation of electricity has a low efficiency and the battery a short life span. As for Hybrid cars the FACTS now show that their petrol consumption is higher than car with the same size petrol engine, We will have to drop this for now as it gets complicated and the Green’s refuse to accept some of the facts. EVER CARRIED A BATTERY. That should give you a clue and after about five years they need replacing, add on co2 to produce them and the green’s are full of sh-t.


5. For 200 MPH high speed motoring, elevated motor ways would be built for hover type vehicles. ( Not much chance of this, seeing the trouble being experienced with tracked hover vehicles). No change on this one, in fact speeds are dropping.


6. All street and motor way lighting would be to a shadow free standard. ( What a nice idea but in today's cost cutting atmosphere no chance.)

I’ts still the same


7. Projects actioned for better city parking and segregation of pedestrians from traffic, Expenditure for these and other projects would be met out of road tax fund which has been spent honestly during the past decade. ( Fat chance of road tax being spent on roads and the like by any government )

It is even worse now as road tax even includes a carbon tax, so now the government do not even have to pretend it spends road tax on roads. As a point of interest most cars are most efficient at 56mph (i.e. use less fuel / lowest emissions) Then why do Green routs have a speed limit of 40mph. And do not get me on about, modern gear box design with 5th and 6th gears for lower emissions, that can not be used as the speed limits prevent their use, except on motor ways


As this article was written nearly forty six years ago and it was perhaps written with a touch of light heartedness, I think we can forgive Raymond Baxter of the BBC for not getting to much right, still all forecasters of the future get most of it wrong.


As can be seen from my comments it seems the government has no idea what its doing, it rants on about cutting pollution because the worlds over heating, then puts in place laws to increase pollution. And rewards owners of electric cars for causing more co2 emissions plus the FACT the electric cars battery’s and electric motors make its total CO2 emissions during manufacture much higher than a standard petrol driven car of the same size.

The only correct thing about future forecasters is they get 90% of the forecast answers wrong


All The Best


Mike Chambers