Motor Shows – A Litany Of Broken Promises
I’ve not been to a Motor Show for ages. I went to a few many years ago, when they were at Earls Court each Autumn. All I got was a pain in my chest and a load of brochures. I don’t miss them. Cars just seem different at shows. The lights show up everything, so they are polished relentlessly. They look perfect, and that’s probably why I don’t want to see them under such circumstances.
Press day at Earls Court was always the chance for manufacturers to make a splash. Possibly you had a lot of glitzy new product and a well-lubricated press machine but, if you didn’t, you could revert to the old girls ‘n cars trick. Journalists and their readers were suckers for this. Starting off with models in the guise of society ladies posing next to the vehicle, it reached a nadir in the early 70s, with TVRs notorious topless extravaganzas.
Strangely, as we start the approach to the third decade of the 21st Century, this still goes on. Admittedly, the really cheesy stuff occurs mostly at fringe events, but mainstream shows can still be relied upon to deliver a fair number of sultry ladies posing by the cars. As in everything else, the motor industry is slow to change – you would think, say, that a Mercedes S Class could be accompanied at a show by a couple of chiselled looking guys in expensive suits in order to conjure the right image. But that would be too gay, right? And there you go – the women in smart evening dresses aren’t really there to represent the client base – they are there to represent something far more base.
Some people try to change things. Before the 2013 Brussels show, Joelle Milquet, Belgium’s Equal Opportunities Minister, caused the organisers to request that “all models would be wearing appropriate dresses” and, from the photo, it seems that she had a result of some sort.
The other empty invitation is the Showcar. I’ve expressed my frustration before regarding these devices that hint at a brave future that the manufacturer has no intention of visiting. I can’t decide which is worst – the device that offers impossible technology that the manufacturer has neither the knowledge nor the will to pursue, or the car that tantalisingly hints at something that could actually exist, but that the manufacturer is too mean or timid to ever put into production.
I’d qualify the above by saying that my dislike of showcars is mainly directed at large companies, who just use an exciting looking proposal as a come-on, in the expectation that it will deflect from the sheer ordinariness of everything in their everyday range – Peugeot were particularly prone to this a few years ago. But, for a small company, anxious to get noticed, hinting at a brave, new and never-to-be-realised future is maybe excusable; better certainly than a gaggle of topless models, at least if you aren’t Dany Bahar.