I’m a bit disgruntled at the moment. It could be the weather or it could be the fact that I’m a bit miffed at the result of that little vote we had recently.
I like Europe…a lot, but I’m more annoyed that the one consequence the 52% didn’t consider is that their vote has potentially scuppered my retirement plans. Not to mention the impact their decision will have on a beautiful medieval village in South West France. You see, when we leave the EU that may affect my chances of retiring to said village, enjoying the sunshine and cheese, sipping a little wine and generally enjoying doing as little as possible for as long as possible. Now, somebody else will buy my house, someone else will eat my cheese and sip my wine, someone else will get my suntan and swim in my pool…
So I’ve been looking for a bright side and I think I’ve found one in our thriving motor industry. I’m not talking about the Nissan factory in Sunderland, or Honda in Swindon, or Ford, Vauxhall, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, or any of the other major players. The UK car market is pretty strong but it’s a small percentage of their global business and if the divorce proceedings don’t go well it would not be impossible for all those multinationals that currently have no plans to move to Europe to suddenly develop plans to move to Europe. I don’t believe that will actually happen but if hell freezes over and pigs fly I just want you to know we will be fine.
We will be fine because I did a little digging and discovered that the number of home grown, UK owned, UK based car manufacturers that are unlikely to pack up and head for the hills is about 10, and they all have something in common. In one form or another it seems that while the rest of Europe is building family hatchbacks us Brits are intent on going as fast as we can whilst simultaneously getting wet and chewing on a mouthful of raw insects.
Arash, Ariel, Ascari, BAC, Bristol, Brooke, Ginetta, McLaren, Morgan, Noble. These are the names you will see in supermarket car parks across the land. What you won’t see is anyone doing any shopping because none of them are suitable for everyday life.
If we’re being sensible we can discount the Arash straight away. The AF10 is a beast of a hybrid that looks like a gift from an advanced civilization and despite the desirability of a car that generates 2080bhp from a 6.2L V8 and four electric motors, the £1.1million price tag might put a few people off. They do make a cheaper car but all things being equal, £168,000 isn’t much of a bargain either. To be fair we can probably take McLaren off the list for much the same reason.
The Bristol could be an interesting choice for the more discerning buyer but there’s bound to be some reticence given that they haven’t introduced a new model since 2003 and they spent the 80’s and 90’s tweaking a car from 1976. There is a new model coming at some point but in the meantime they will happily sell you a used car: the cheapest option is currently a 1975 411 series listed for £59,950.
The more I think about it the more obvious it becomes. Everything I’ve said so far applies equally to Ascari, Noble, Morgan and BAC. They make beautiful cars that go very fast, look fantastic but cost quite a lot of money.
Which leaves us with Ariel, Brooke and Ginetta and that is where the good news lies. All of them will sell you a brand new car that costs less than £30,000 (just) or you can pick up a used model for less so affordability won’t be an issue. All of them are designed to go very quickly around corners and even quicker in a straight line so traffic jams will be a thing of the past. All of them are quite loud and raucous so everyone will hear you coming thus eliminating pedestrian collisions. All of them can be race-tuned so the army of shed-dwelling fettlers can improve and personalise their vehicles to their hearts content. All of them look rather good too, in their own way, so our roads will quickly become a much more attractive place to be.
But the one that stands out above the rest is Ariel. Not because they produce the Atom, a rocket powered go-kart of a car that is widely recognised as one of the best driving experiences available. Nor is it because they produce the Nomad, an off-roader that laughs in the face of anything mother nature throws at it and still manages to work on the road.
No, the reason you must buy an Ariel is because these shining examples of British engineering and hand-built craftsmanship are designed and built in a small factory on the A30 between Crewkerne and the A3066 junction for Haselbury Plucknett. Buying an Ariel means not just buying British but buying Somerset.
So, in the spirit of the EU referendum, I would ask you all to throw off the yoke of the unelected bureaucrats in Westminster, stand up as one and demand our borders be closed to prevent the influx of cars that aren’t Ariels. I want to hear the roads filled with the sound of howling exhausts and wind-whipped cries of, “we want our county back!”