Simon reveals his softer side.
I’ve asked myself if I can think of a large car that is ‘cute’ and, at present, can only think of one, but perhaps that is because this particular vehicle will always have a dominant place in my memories. In the late Seventies, I filled in for the European Motoring Correspondent on Soldier Of Fortune magazine when he was unavoidably detained for several months by the German security services. Apart from it being the introduction to my beloved Alvis Stalwart, when I tested one for the ‘Used and Bruised’ feature, that time also has more tender memories for me.
Today I am seen, correctly, as a ‘confirmed bachelor’ but it was not always so. At the time I shared a small office in Sheffield with other European contributors to SoF and one of those was the Concealed Small Arms contributor Lt. Col. ‘Kipper’ Haring. This was a nom-de-plume for a far better known individual, Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward. Our romance was short, but unforgettable, and included memorable drives and picnics in the back of FAB 1 with the ever-discreet Parker at the wheel.
In my time at Duple Coach Magazine, I drove several VAL chassis 6 wheelers, but none has left the delightful impression that Penelope’s car did. Parker never let me behind the wheel, but the ride was soft and feathery and the ambience, within that bubble canopy, was a perfumed oasis, free from outside cares. We were both going through ‘difficult periods’. Since environmentalists had closed down Tracy Island, Penelope had found it difficult to find work since, not unreasonably, potential employers took the view that, as a ‘secret agent’, she was rather conspicuous. In the short time we were together, I believe we both gave each other something and, to this day, part of this crusty old bachelor’s heart still belongs to her
For this reason I was outraged when I heard of J Mays plans to ‘re-boot’ FAB 1. I believe he first hatched his scheme when he heard of Patrick Le Quement’s decision to redefine the French prestige car with the Vel Satis and, ever the showman, sought to top the ex-Ford man’s efforts. Apparently there was a lot of behind-the-scenes planning. When attempts to find a focus group of aristocratic female secret agents failed, they then decided to pitch the car to female CEOs and the like. When the word came back of responses such as ‘crass gender stereotyping’ and ‘my designated parking space is only 25 feet long’ the intended market shifted again, this time to members of the popular music industry. It was probably a mistake of them to approach Sinead O’Connor as the official face of the new FAB 1 and the ensuing public altercation resulted, thankfully, in Ford pulling the plug on the proposed production run.
I don’t think Mr Mays career really recovered. Apparently he now works as Chris Bird’s butler.
NOTE : I do not normally reveal much about my personal life, but I feel I am among friends here. However, if any of you chooses to ask the tiresome question ‘didn’t the strings get in the way?’ consider yourselves excluded from this site.
2 thoughts on “Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – FAB 1”
Moving yet informative, I can only hope that I will write with such passion one day. I had not thought of that canopy as enclosing a scented boudoir before – fascinating Thank you for an insight into the personal side of those brave people that protect our world. It would be cruel to suggest that you might lack your usual forensic objectivity in this matter, but I always felt that FAB1 borrowed a little heavily on the Lyons Line of its contemporary, the Mark 10 Jaguar. Incidentally, technically, did it inspire Derek Gardner’s Tyrrell P34?
I’m sure FAB 1 can’t have been far from Derek Gardner’s mind. Nor Bob Jankel when he designed the Panther 6. It is strange how the man in the street, albeit that street is situated in Belgravia, seeks cachet from such associations. It is undoubtedly true that Aston Martin would not be where they are today without James Bond. I met Mr Bond on several occasions, mostly at launches where, if the car was expensive enough, the champagne was described as ‘vintage’ and there were young women in bathing costumes, he could be guaranteed to turn up. I’ve always judged him little more than a snobbish and lecherous glutton, and that little more is a psychotic thug who is also a remarkably poor driver. Penelope told a very amusing story about getting tangled up with him once. Why an association with such a man holds any sway I do not know.