The longest test car loan ever … Peter Brewer writes:

so-called “inducements” have been going on for decades, and the record
for the longest test car loan still stands because the car was never
returned. To explain: one of the more astonishing tales of greasing the
palms of motoring journos dates back to the 1973 launch of the
ill-fated Leyland P76, when “long term” loan cars were provided to
selected journos on the basis that the vehicles should be returned
“when you are finished with them.” Well, in the case of one particular
high profile motoring journo (who shall remain nameless), the weeks
turned into months until finally – almost a year later – the car
company sent someone around to the journo’s place to collect the car.
The journo feigned ignorance of the long term loan agreement, and told
the representative that he thought the car was a gift. Turns out that
after having driven the car around for a while, he sold it and used the
funds to instal an inground swimming pool in his backyard.

What the car company PR sees … David Wolnizer writes:
notas – that’s what they are know as in the motor game. Inducements is
not the word, demands is more to the point. I have been in the PR
department of a major manufacturer on many occasions when “requests”
have been made by well known mota notas. Going for a holiday in
Queensland, how about a luxury vehicle? Going to the snow, how about a
4WD? Taking out a new bird, how about a sports car, convertible if
possible? Notwithstanding the petrol money which is expected in the
glove box, and so the list goes on. I know of one well known mota nota,
retired now, who once dumped a luxury car just where it ran out of
petrol, and never even bothered to tell the supplier. Not only that,
but to add insult to injury there was never a write-up on the car. To
some who know, some of the stuff that is written is just plain cr-p.

Life as a motoring writer in con city … an anonymous contributor writes:
worked as a motoring journo in a previous life, I can tell you it is
con city and I would pay little attention to any of the words written
about any car. The best loan I have heard of is Paul Gover, who said he
couldn’t understand the iDrive on the 7-Series BMW – so they loaned him
one for three months so he could understand. This is the same bloke who
wouldn’t fly economy class to Shanghai with the rest of the motorsport
writers for the recent V8 Supercar round – instead he waited for Holden
to fly him Business Class, which is much more appropriate for a man of
his influence!

But it’s not wot it seems … motoring journalist and broadcaster Will Hagon writes:
comments and arguments could be banged around in response to your story
how to steer motoring journos in the right direction. To save time and
boring detail, some general points about how the independence and
honesty of motoring journos may or may not be influenced by their
treatment at the hands of car companies. Just as some people in all
fields of endeavour don’t do the right thing, most people in most
fields of endeavour have ethics, care, professional pride and honesty
that leads them, most of the time, to do the right thing.

a lot of people in the motor industry, motoring journalists usually
become so through a passion for cars. That usually means enjoying their
job but perhaps also spending too much time doing it. Over nearly 40
years in the industry, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly but
generally the good have risen to the top. And those “good” have an
impressive range of skills: able to test a wide range of vehicles up to
a high level of performance without killing themselves, a knowledge of
business, manufacturing and the many aspects of the technicalities of
motor vehicles. Oh yes, and an ability to write.

Your story
had a fair comment that is reflected internationally, that “Aussie
motoring writers are known for going pretty hard on a car that’s not up
to scratch.” They are also known for generally being more knowledgeable
and skilled than most of their ilk from other countries.

Perhaps this can all be summarised by noting, while the moral high ground mob at The Age and the SMH
have found another thing to twitch the hairs in their nostrils, that a
very significant proportion of those papers’ incomes come from motor
industry advertising. Do they feel compromised, unable to be
editorially free?