Long-Gone Car Travel Experiences Lost To History

Long-Gone Car Travel Experiences Lost To History

by Becky Harrison |
posted 16 March 2021

Research for BBC Top Gear into family car travel over the last 40 years reveals a seismic change between generations and identifies the in-car travel experiences that could soon be consigned to the history books.

Mum and Dad bickering over maps and directions, playing 'I Spy' style car games with the kids and using wire coat hangers for replacement aerials are now all part of a bygone age of motoring according to a new survey.  

The survey of 2,000 UK adults aged 40 and over was commissioned by BBC Studios to mark the start of the 30th series of flagship BBC One motoring entertainment show Top Gear on Sunday 14th March. 

In the series opener, presenters Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris drive their old family cars and reminisce about their childhood motoring memories.  

The top ten family car travel experiences which have been lost to history:   

  1. Unfurling of maps and arguments between parents over directions (54%) 

  2. One CD or tape in the car that you had to listen to every single time you went on a drive (53%) 

  3. Pre-planning routes (39%) 

  4. Using a coat hanger as a radio aerial (39%) 

  5. Using the cigarette lighter for its original intended purpose (35%) 

  6. Endless tuning to get a radio signal (34%) 

  7. Classic ‘in car’ games such as ‘I Spy’ (34%) 

  8. Picking up hitchhikers (30%) 

  9. The rallying cry of ’are we there yet’ (24%)

  10. His and hers windscreen stickers (sunscreen strips) (23%)

Bygone experiences which just missed out on a top 10 placement included changing your own spare tyre (23%), the discovery of local radio stations being picked up as you drive through a hilly region (19%) and going for a Sunday family ‘leisure drive’ (19%). 

The survey also revealed that the countless hours spent on childhood car journeys hold vivid and cherished family memories for the vast majority (68%) of British adults.   



Becky Harrison
Becky Harrison

Becky is part of the marketing team here at Money4yourMotors. Becky oversees a wide range of marketing activities including social media and content creation.