|For this book, which celebrates both ‘the golden age of motoring’ and some of Britain’s most beautiful and interesting countryside, I followed in the tyre tracks of the actor Richard Wilson. He was filming for the BBC TV series of the same name. I was taking the premise of the series – that the 1950s was the optimum decade for driving a car – and developing it into a travel narrative on changing landscapes and attitudes. Richard, in a succession of classic motors (from the Austin Cambridge to the Ford Zodiac), and I in my workhorse of a VW Passat, followed six driving routes recommended by 1950s motoring guidebooks. They range from Cornwall to the Central Highlands, by way of South and North Wales, the Lake District and the North York Moors. In each we tell a fascinating story of how places have been shaped by tourism, industry, literature and even television, while the people we run into are as varied, resourceful and extraordinary as only ‘ordinary’ people can be. So what are we waiting for? The tank is full, the oil checked and the water topped up. We’ll pull on the string backed gloves. You pack the Thermos and get the old cloth maps from the glovebox. Let’s get motoring.