22 October 2007

Cars That Did Something Special (And One That Didn't)

Cars sometimes come along and do something special for one reason or another. I have selected a few of my picks of what some of those cars were.

Model T Ford.

Why I selected this car is that it was the first mass production car that brought personal transport to the masses. I don't see the car as anything special in itself but for bringing motoring to the people it has to be here. It's like what Charlie Chaplin did for movies.

The VW Beetle succeeded in a way that I still don't understand, but succeed it did. Rear engined, rear wheel drive, water cooled, nothing that we see today in smaller cars but all incorporated in the Bug. It had character, was reliable and the Germans are aggressive in marketing so maybe that all added up to the success it garnered.

The car that did change the way smaller cars were made is my next selection; the BMC Mini. It didn't sell in the numbers the Beetle did although it would have if the Germans had developed it. However, to mess up a winner like the Mini would be like not being able to sell a sunny holiday to a northern European in the middle of winter. You couldn't miss and neither did the Mini.

My personal favourite is the Range Rover. People drove 4wd vehicles to traverse rough terrain on farmland, not cruise down High St. It was the vehicle no one asked for, to do what no one had thought they wanted it to do. It had a level of refinement and therefore price that would surely send it into ignominy. That's what Land Rover's execs thought, but for whatever possessed them, they gave production the green light. It spawned a success that has seen the streets of every country in the world swarming with 4wd's and their popularity increases unabated. An amazing gamble that paid off handsomely. Land Rover itself hasn't capitalised as it should on started this genre, but that's the British for you.

I just had to add to this segment one car that was never going to cut it but was put on the market anyway. The Suzuki X-90, the most pointless vehicle I can think of. In a popularity contest with only itself entered, it would come last. It just goes to show sometimes the thing that looks like a ridiculous idea really is.

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