GAVIN GREEN, best known as former editor of Car magazine, took time last week to chat with Coventry University students; writes Alex Kersten.
After being spoilt the other day with a visit from none other than Murray Walker, Green had a very hard act to follow. Admittedly, the turnout may not have been as impressive, nor did attendees have to book online for the privilege, but his wealth of experience in the field of motoring journalism, PR and advertising certainly proved insightful.
Australian born, Green was editor of Car in the late 1980s and early 90s, a time when the magazine was the best seller in its sector. He was later appointed PR director and management board member for Land Rover (between 2000-2002), after which he moved back into writing.
Alongside running the automotive division of Redwood Publishing, Green is currently a columnist for Car, Motor Trend (American magazine) and the British Airways inflight magazines, as well as freelancing for various TV and radio shows.
Green remembers the 60s fondly, a time when car magazines were authoritative and hankered to the wishes of the manufacturer: “At that time, Car said ‘screw this’ and became more critical of manufacturers, which was a breath of fresh air for readers”. Individually owned, Car quickly revolutionised the way magazines would be written in the future, including having to offend manufacturers to get the truth out to readers. “Jeremy Clarkson was clearly influenced by the maverick efforts of Car,” Green added.
Former employer of the likes of James May and Vikki Butler-Henderson, Green too has enjoyed his fair share of adventures; one of which was a ‘Mini adventure’, but of epic proportion. In honour of his father’s legacy and Mini’s 50th, Green drove across the Australian deserts in a Mini, some 4155 miles. Back in 1965, however, it would be Green’s father who’d take up this challenge: “I was just a boy at the time. Don’t forget, this was way before mobile phones, so in the six weeks he was gone, for all I knew, he could have been dead.”
With such a rich history under his belt, it’s no wonder that Green’s exploits have also included the Spa 24-hour race, a journey in a 25-year-old Ford from London to Sydney and the crossing of Sahara in a Land Rover.
With the car industry currently undergoing radical changes in terms of electric power and technology, Green was keen to point out that this would prove a very exciting time for journalists and readers alike: “The media and car world are changing faster than most and with the introduction of the iPad, will see the death of the paper dominated market; it’ll do for visual arts what the iPod did for music.”.
Two to three years are all he expects it’ll take until people are watching the likes of Top Gear on the iPad. Hopefully, for us, we’ll be watching Green’s latest adventures on the screen too.