Theme : Glamour – Introduction

The Editor welcomes a New Year and a New Theme

Facel Vega Col

After a Disappointing end to 2015, we start the first month of the New Year with an upbeat Theme. But what exactly is Glamour? Well, it is certainly not to be confused with November’s theme subject, Romance.

Both may be ethereal but, unlike Romance, Glamour is strictly a fleeting thing. Even the Glamorous only experience it for short periods. It is the accoutrements that give the appearance of Glamour. Individually, naked, we are not Glamorous, which is ironic bearing in mind the traditional euphemistic use of the word to describe a niche of the British publishing industry. This reminds us that there is always something not quite respectable lurking beneath the veneer of Glamour.

Glamour is, of course, different things for different ages but, for many of my generation, it is not The Queen, flawless in her youth, riding in a glass carriage at her Coronation, it is more likely Miss Diana Dors standing beside a pastel Ford Zodiac convertible in a mink coat and bathing suit.
So, what was ever glamorous about the motor car? I would propose that the most glamorous period for the motor car was from the mid 1920s to the start of the Second World War, with a revival lasting from the 1950s until the end of the 1960s. The car of today may still be many things, but it is not glamorous. It is too efficient and too competent for that.

A glamorous car has to suggest infinite possibilities. What these are, you probably have no idea and, in keeping with all ideas of Glamour, in the end the car is probably incapable of delivering on its promise. Like the fashion model walking in impossibly high heels, in order to appear glamorous it is necessary to experience some degree of discomfort. The T150 Talbot-Lago cars bodied by various coachbuilders just before the War must be some of the most glamorous cars ever, but they were also lightly disguised racers. Noisy, firm-riding and poorly ventilated, you paid hard for the envious stares as you drove along the Corniches of the Cote D’Azur.

In fact, does glamour exist at all any more? Surely it requires a degree of mystery that, in the world of Hello magazine, no longer exists. We know too much about everyone. It also requires a degree of self-sacrifice and discomfort that we are now too sybaritic and self-gratifying to deal with. What, then, you may ask is a Lamborghini Aventador? I would return again to the world of top shelf publications and say that such cars no longer suggest Glamour, they are just Pornography. I don’t judge, just comment.

As usual, my Authors will doubtless disagree with me.

Simon thinks only one of these is Glamorous.
Simon thinks only one of these is Glamorous.

17 thoughts on “Theme : Glamour – Introduction”

  1. Is it merely the fact that we get old? Perhaps the younger ones feel glamour still exists. I’d have to agree Richard, the fact that superstars decide to use a classic gullwing Mercedes or perhaps a BMW 507 ….. or use something that emulates the cars is telling.
    Is it glamorous to get out of a new Phantom .. or an old Phantom for example. But perhaps glamour has always been a pastiche, a falsehood. Bristol always marketed themselves as the upmarket car for people who didn’t feel the need to be flaunting themselves and thus were not glamorous. I’m typing from the hip ……………….

  2. Glamour and ostentation sit perilously near to one another. For me a new car would not be glamorous. The Aventador (?) is showing off; an old Cadillac in navy blue would be glamorous. It would have to be used in a casual way. Glamour might take effort but must not look as if it does. It’s like “coolness” in that regard. I suppose one must look the part. Getting out of the Cadillac in jeans and a bare-midriffed tank top would not work whereas a dark, elegant yet practical garment would: a Balenciaga skirt suit or Kiton gent’s blazer and chinos would.

  3. ‘Glamour’ is a much misused word – in carmakers’ product planning terms justification for an unprofitable short-run product to “lend some glamour to the range”.

    Noble or cynical? I’d say the latter if the result is a Renault Wind or Opel Cascada. The Peugeot 406 and 407 coupes may pass muster, but I’m possibly confusing glamour with elegance.

    Modern attempts at glamour miss the target by a mile. The Rolls-Royce Dawn on show at Frankfurt was heartbreaking; leather the colour of babys’ diarrhoea, vast expanses of egregiously figured veneer, expensively treated to look just like Formica. O tempora, o mores!

    1. You draw attention to the phrase “lending glamour” and exposing its fatuousness. I don’t think the marketing people are even aware of what they are saying. It’s duck-speak. I doubt anyone ever bought a Mercedes C-class because the S-class is so S-Classy. It was because they imagined the C-Class was good in itself. Glamour doesn’t radiate, does it?
      The Renault Wind and Opel Cascada? Did someone really try to pass them off as glamorous?

  4. When I was growing up, Fiesta or Escort had more glamour than you could shake your stick at. I wouldn’t be palmed off with anything less.

    1. For me, it was my great uncle’s Triumph 2000 and, later, a neighbour’s Ford Granada 2.8 Ghia.

  5. I always found Jason King’s red Bentley Flying Spur (4 door) Continental, complete with Swiss (Berne) registration plates extremely glamorous.

    1. That was the world of film or television. I noticed Bond’s Esprit though not the glamour so much as the fact it could dive under water. How did the fish get in?
      Real life glamour did not sit about in great quantities when I was old enough to notice it. I really am struggling with this one. Glamour…the early 80s…Ireland? No, glamour must have been “out there” somewhere. Maybe a Rolls Royce in the pages of the ILN?

    2. Not exactly. I saw it on TV, but it was the car I admired, more than the camply, over-the-top character it belonged to. I just thought an elegant Mulliner bodied Bentley rather glamorous anyway, but the clever idea of giving it Swiss plates took it to another level. I admit I still find Swiss-registered high-end vehicles oddly intriguing. Or am I muddling up Glamour with Romance?

  6. Switzerland is viewed as very glamorous. Ascona, for example. Lucerne: another. A used Jaguar in London is a slightly crap old car. In Switzerland it become a magical manifestation of finely-wrought Englishness and suggests relaxed but high-level affluence of old money. Even Cadillacs can gain this gloss as long as they are from the early 90s or older.

  7. Glamour is something that you attribute to Hollywood and monarchy, or generally has to do with showing off a little. All things that are considered totally un-Swiss.

    But probably our different views of glamour just have to do with it always being what you can’t have or can’t be.

    1. Well then, I’ll have to believe you. And I’m not even from Ascona or Lucerne. But I live somewhat close to St. Moritz.

      But: isn’t the glamour of all these places coming from all the foreigners there?

    2. My God Simon! You don’t mean that you are actually an indigenous Swiss do you? We only let you on this site since we assumed you were a moneyed tax exile.

    3. What a foolish thought! You should know that nowadays, these people have to keep low profile, and certainly not brag about their glamorous cars in public blogs.

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