There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to ask yourself “Do I feel special? Well, do ya, Punk?”
If we ignore the Citroen 2CV for a moment, Special (in automotive terms at least) has generally meant more. More equipment, more individuality, more value. But for some that’s not enough. The statement is the thing. Some of us will recall the era of Rude Mercs, those bespoilered, beskirted, altered images of Bruno Sacco’s finest; as emblematic of an Eighties we’d prefer to forget as Stock Aitkin & Waterman, Huey Lewis and the News and the Westland affair. Fashions change, the world turns and for all I know Huey Lewis may well be hawking his flaccid wares somewhere as I write. (I’m sure he’s a nice man by the way, but some things you can never forgive).
But automotive fashion hasn’t really changed, so news that Mercedes is offering AMG factory-supported DIY enhancement packages shouldn’t surprise anyone, even if it does mean we really can no longer justifiably throw stones directly at the aftermarket. Yet isn’t there something not only slightly déclassé but more than a little passé about all this?
Since 2015, the AMG-Sport arm of the Sindelfingen car giant’s marketing department has been offering German customers the opportunity to sex up their C-Class’ with injudicious use of moulded plastic accoutrements of questionable aesthetic (and possibly material) quality. Now, they’re rolling out a similar set of sill extensions, diffusers and body stripes through selected ranges; the A and CLA-Class lines being the latest worthy recipients. Your A-Class AMG-Line a little too timid looking? We have just what you require madam.
Side sill extensions cost €790 each – [note: you will need two]. A front splitter and rear diffuser will set you back €470 each, while the rear three-quarter faux-air extractor thingys will extract another €185 from your bank account, although it’s unclear how many that gets you. (€185 sounds a lot for just one – but money, old rope etc). Anyway, you’ve frittered away the best part of €2900, so what’s another few Euro’s? It’s all meaningless without the AMG-Sport stripe anyway; €200 being the required stipend for something that looks like a five year old’s accident with a magic marker.
I distantly recall Vauxhall offering something similar for the Corsa during the mid-eighties, which doesn’t feel too far off where Daimler are now in reach and ambition. Should we care? You could argue it’s good business; they’re as entitled to part the credulous from their savings as any aftermarket emboldener. But for those of us who care about Mercedes’ ongoing fall from grace, the bottom of the barrel appears to be developing unfathomable depths. Does anyone know the way back from here?
By the way, even I find the Dirty Harry link a mite tenuous, but in the absence of a better one I’ve decided to run with it. Sorry.