IIn 1963, Bill Tuckey changed the world. As editor of Wheels magazine, he introduced the world’s very first Car of the Year award – an honour that went to the Renault 8.
If that had been all he achieved in his career as a motoring journalist, it would have been enough. But Tuckey did a lot more to bring credibility and clout to the motoring beat, as well as establishing himself as the best of his breed – anywhere in the world.
“Bill took motoring journalism to new heights of respectability within journalism and the motor industry.
“He understood how cars were created and developed, how they were sold. Bill believed there was no reason why a car magazine shouldn’t aim for the highest standards of journalism,” says Peter Robinson, the longest-serving Editor of Wheels and himself a powerhouse in global motoring.
“Bill brought freshness, entertainment, a sense of humour, and – most of all – brilliant writing. He invented comparison tests, at least among Australian magazines, and was never afraid to criticise a new car. He took the local industry seriously and effortlessly imparted his knowledge and enthusiasm for both cars and magazines.
“It helped that he could drive and was an insightful road tester. What he brought was the ability to put the reader behind the wheel, especially in stories for Sports Car World.”
Robinson says there were things he happily continued at Wheels.
“The objectivity of his comparisons, the need for each issue to contain a ‘good read’, and a culture that took the reader behind the scenes to make them feel they belonged to an exclusive club of like-minded enthusiasts.”
And he has no doubt about the historical importance of that fledgling Car of the Year award.
“COTY gave Wheels credibility and Bill built on this so that it became, and remains, the Australian industry’s highest and most-soughtafter award.”