Theme : Special – Introduction

The Editor wonders what is so special about being special.

Acura Badge

After last month’s Theme, Glamour, which drew a rather timid response, my team has chosen a theme that throws a wider net, and that they consider will be a sure-fire success.

I shamelessly admit that I was cheered at the low interest of Driven to Write’s contributors in the theme of Glamour. There are many motoring organs whose staff feel at their most comfortable seated in the Louis Vuitton tent at a concour d’elegance, sipping Moet & Chandon as they exchange bon mots with Mr Brian Ferry, but Driven to Write’s members are not among them. For all our literary pretensions, we pride ourselves that our feet remain firmly planted in the gutter of mass production.

Therefore I was never altogether happy with a theme that celebrated Glamour but, in my humble position as Editor, I bowed to the collective wish of the Founders and tried to appear suitably inspired. This month I again bow to their wishes, and must again admit my concern. Although I feel it is right to celebrate good design in mass produced objects, for me it is wrong to put any single example of a particular design on a pedestal.

Blame my rash, youthful membership of Basingstoke Young Communists if you will, but some convictions last. A Ford is a Ford is a Ford and, although trim levels may vary, its charm is its uniformity. Surely it is our ability to achieve such inspired monotony that singles humans out from their fellow creatures.

But many do not agree with me and they are not happy to have exactly the same car in their driveway as their neighbour. They seek difference, in the belief that they are asserting their individuality. This may be true; they might have a vision which, although I might not share it, I can respect. But it might not be true; they might just be buying a false individuality off the shelf, much like a transfer tattoo. Between the parameters defined here sits the ‘Special’. It might be a Ford Capri fitted with a Merlin engine, or it might be one of a limited run of 10,000 VW Polos with the name of an already forgotten Boy Band on the hatchack.

So it is with some trepidation that I launch our new theme. Will we be seeing an ironic celebration of ill-matched colour schemes, vinyl roofs and wobbly badges? Or will we be treated to a genuine celebration of those rare cases where individualism has righteously triumphed over the everyday?

5 thoughts on “Theme : Special – Introduction”

  1. That was an eloquent introduction, Simon. It deserves a big glass of Manzanilla, I think.
    What with my crushing workload I haven’t started research on finding out when I can think about writing. Will “special” only refer to trim variants? Myles Gorfe might have some Granada-related suggestions. The Chasseur variant will have to get a look-in. Already I feel inspired. Peugeot 306 “Cal” edition?

  2. Great choice of theme – looking forward to this fest that should celebrate both the naff and the exclusive … and everything in between!

  3. In the old days (80s and 90s), special editions allowed the manufacturer to offer a combination of engine and spec that was outside the normal model range, presumably because they couldn’t guarantee they would sell strongly enough to be a permanent model. It was quite common to see specials designed for the slow sales months of June and July being nothing but a base model car with no other options apart from A/C (Honda and Toyota did this a lot). I also liked the specials that gave you the option of a big engine with a relatively low spec, like the Vauxhall Cesaro models in the mid 90s.

    Nowadays, with infinitely configurable options lists, there is less of a need for specials.

    At the other end of the spectrum, there are the limited production run models like the 911 GT3 RS or the Ferrari 360 CS, which command a ludicrous price premium for the extras they offer, and seem quite cynically tailored to appeal to speculators and investors.

    1. Hi Andy: the very first item I’ve written on specials deals precisely with those high end “limited run” cars. A few are thrillingly naff. I have scheduled that for the end of the month.
      I’ll need to keep my remarks limited otherwise I’ll use up ideas too quickly!

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