26.10.08: Insight from Road Test of the Year

Time 7:53 pm, October 26, 2008


WONDERING what went on behind the scenes of the magazine’s wonderful, awe-inspiring, wait-until-you-see-it cover shoot?


Photographer Dave Smith working his magic, that’s what. Directing a shoot is not a job for amateurs, and Dave is one of the top car snappers out there. For us to secure his services for this event was a real coup – but hey, only the best would do!


I met the boys at the Shell garage in Crickhowell crisp ‘n early on Saturday, we fired the few miles to one of Dave’s ‘secret’ locations, and then – well, there was a collective gasp. Sat right at the top of the Brecon Beacons, the views were stunning. Helped by the sun, literally, clearing through the clouds as we crunched up into the car park. The Gods were certainly on our side.


As was our camera-wielding God, Dave. Scarily expensive gear was swiftly out the back of his Skoda Octavia, set up was swiftly underway, then the direction started. Assembling a group of cars doesn’t just happen by luck – it takes a great deal of inch-perfect placement, to the calls of ‘left hand down a bits’ and ‘nudge forward half a inches’ from the man behind the tripod. If you haven’t seen it in action, watching cars appear in formation before your eyes is quite something.


Then it was out with the cleaning gear for one last brush-up (check out the ed balming the Aston!), before several more rearrangements for alternative angles. Well, gotta make sure all bases are covered. All the time, we were stood behind the Octavia, well out of shot, murdering a bag of Fruit Pastilles and answering about a thousand questions from awe-struck drivers rapidly filling up car park. For a few moments, we felt like heroes, or even X Factor contestants.


Shots in the bag, then the fun started – the cornering stuff. Which calls for tenacity, commitment and balls of steel. Oh, and a helpful ‘watcher’, signalling when the road is clear with some clear hand signals… the shots speak for themselves. Let’s just say, we had to do several runs to get ‘em in the bag, and each one was a blast!


Hairy moments? Why, of course. But wagging fingers from locals? Surprisingly, not a single one. A couple of ‘em even pulled into our lay-by to watch us: the elderly topless gent in the MX-5 was particularly delighted by our exploits. You had to be there…


An evening meeting meant I had to scoot off quickly in the Twingo, back up the M5 to Coventry. I left the boys continuing to get ‘the perfect shot’ in three of the best drivers cars you can buy. All to be captured by one of the best driving snappers around, on the best driving roads, in the best driving weather. I know, I know. We have already counted our blessings many times…



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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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