It would be misguided to suggest that any sensible motor yachtsman ever took his engines for granted...

It would be misguided to suggest that any sensible motor yachtsman ever took his engines for granted, but you know what I mean: the view that they should be heard and not seen is pretty widespread these days, especially as with each new generation engines become ever more complicated and forbidding to the amateur tinkerer.

This is good news for people like me, of course, whose motorbike was always slightly slower and more clattery after I’d serviced it, and who once had to completely rebuild an engine twice in one day after finding a washer on the garage floor.

It’s good news for the service agents, too, though not just for the reason you cynics suggest. Spare parts are a horrendous price, it’s true, and I have to confess that the place where I get Fidget’s oil and fuel filters is well inland and has big blue tractors outside, not boats. With today’s electronic management systems and diagnostics the service agent can gauge an engine’s health with a good degree of accuracy, and while you still have to pay him large amounts of cash, the peace of mind you’re buying is of a slightly superior kind than it used to be. Well, we all hope it is anyway.

This is our Engine Special, which attempts to take stock of the extraordinary developments in engine technology and emission regulations of the past ten years. We also have a look into the crystal ball and take an educated guess about what’s coming up. And if you’re one of those amateur tinkerers – or, as Tony Jones puts it, you don’t mind the occasional sleeve full of diesel – there’s plenty here for you, too. It all starts on p80. Hope you enjoy it.