04 July 2016 UK Europe Feature
Is It Time For The Car Beautiful?
What will tempt the public in times of worry and gloom?

(Picture: The car we were promised.)
A quick glance at the stocks of car manufacturers in Europe shows that investors have lost a little confidence since Brexit, but although the drop is quite steep following the result of the UK's electorate to speed off the autobahn at breakneck speed, the rev counter on the dashboard of European stocks had been falling backwards for quite some time.

Problems there are aplenty. Emissions scandals, slowdown in China, dizzying varieties of engines and types to mangle out of a production line and all amid the usual problem of too many cars being sold to a public that probably doesn't really need new cars every four years now.

For the mainland Europeans the good ol' UK was always Treasure Island. The Brits have a tendency to dismiss their own products, probably as a direct result of having suffered at the hands of poor quality in the 1970s and never getting over it, but also in the UK they have a fatal attraction for foreigners. It's true. Brexit doesn't prove they are anti European at all, it just proves cognitive dissonance is a very British trait.

Then there's car leasing. As in all things, the UK has got rather good at living on credit and doesn't seem to mind it at all. The car may often cost more per month than a rather large house, but they seem to think that's normal. Which is very good news for European makers, as they can produce models with higher margins that still sell. Your average British motorist tends not to shop for cheap.

But that may be about to change rather quickly.

The pound has took a jolly good thrashing of late and seems in no mood to fight back. Meanwhile house-builders have took a black eye which indicates that investors in housebuilding rather see the Brits changing their minds about commitments to debt.

Plus, no-one knows what's happening. No-one. Not even the Queen. She opened Scotland's parliament and made comforting noises but probably she is just baffled. Bafflement seems to have descended over these isles like a fog of good old 1970s four star. All the leaders have ran away incidentally. I mean all of them. Leaving a few ferrets running around nipping at each other and hoping the rabbits stay in the headlamps long enough for them to assert authority and have them hopping in their direction again.

All in all, it's not the most decisive place in the world right now and really, when it's like that, a decision on that new car you promised yourself last year looks not only foolish but a decidedly baffling thought in the first place.

Why? People will ask. There's sod all wrong with this one anyway.

Except its ugly. My god its ugly.

And I think that poses an opportunity.

In the bad old days when we had factories closing down faster than you could roll a fag, people tended to look after their old bangers, lovingly, for years. It made people like Jeremy Clarkson so angry he ended up punching producers decades later. Now he has gone and so has the ethos of his television show that rather promoted the idea that good looking cars are a con to hide lots of rust and engines too small to pull a bird.

In these times of politics resembling the Wacky Racea cartoons and banks closing down like British Leyland plants, there is a problem with looking after cherished old cars.

There aren't any. We scrapped most of them or Jeremy Clarkson wrecked them with falling pianos. And after that carnage we focussed on beating everyone in The World's Ugliest Cars Contest, and won hands down. I mean my God, have you seen a Rolls Royce lately? Even Aston Martin has decided being good looking is about as desirable as rabies.

Nearly every single car produced since the end of Thatcher looks like a mistake that will never be rectified. And nothing has ever improved the situation, if anything, its got worse. Now cars are angry looking, beastly and just a tad too arrogantly ugly to sit on a leafy avenue where half the stockbrokers might at any day be thrown on the dole and made to prove they are not Romanians.

Where can the market go in such terrible times?

Here is a suggestion. Can auto-mobile manufacturers perhaps drop the idea that they need to sell a new car every four years to debt-laden Brits and actually offer them a car that looks so god-damn beautiful they sell their own children into slavery to buy it? AND will keep it at least till their son (the one not enslaved) is old enough to drive it?

Because right now, the old strategy of piling margin-busting gizmos and engines - that are about as necessary on British roads as tits on fish - into cars that cleverly turn ugly the minute they depreciate below 35% will not work any more.

People need love in their lives. And their cars now.

Time to put on some Gallic charm, or Teutonic restrained might, or Italian flair again methinks, and lashings of sheer allure.

And Britain, maybe you should go back to producing charming old fashioned cars again with chrome trimmings and friendly faces, like you used to. Remember? Capris, Morris Minors, Jaguars (real ones), MGs (that look like MGs for heavens sake) , but that last a bit longer and don't break down. Austerity is here to stay folks, so get used to it and stop making people buy obsolescence with built-in slums-of-tomorrow looks, hm? It will make you a better person all round.

My consultation is free. If living on these islands is to get tougher, poorer and ran by rabid ferrets, at least I can gaze on rows of lovely sparkling happy motors being dotingly polished by contented, poorer, happier motorists again.