Monday, September 10, 2007

The death of "British" icons

Call it nostalgia. Call it colonial yearnings. But admit it, as a former Brit-ruled nation, there are still quite a few stiff upper-lipped souls who hanker after everything that is Britannia. Fer some it is the regular escape to the mock Tudor dwellings of Cameron Highlands fer a spot of tea & scones. Fer others, it is the unswerving belief that their children must study in the UK as it is the BEST. And of course, our incredible fascination with English footie (which needless to say, I am obsessed with) . . .

Apart from the Anfield addiction, I've always had a soft spot fer Britain's wonderfully eccentric & character-filled automobiles. When I was growing up, I always asked me dad why he always opted fer boring Jap cars (he still does . . . sigh) instead of the hip-looking urban car that was the Mini Clubman; or the sporty MGs & Triumphs; or the super fast saloons of the Brit-made Ford Escorts. He answer was that "once bitten, twice shy - had a Vauxhall once, that was it."

Anyways, looking at the once proud bastion of the Brit automotive industry, you will be shocked to see that all of its icons now belong in foreign hands. Mini (BMW, Germany), Jaguar (Ford, USA), MG (Nanjing Automobile Group, China), Aston Martin (General Motors, USA), Rolls Royce (BMW, Germany), and of course, Lotus (Proton, M'sia). Even the smaller cottage industries such as TVR (Nikolai Smolenski, Russia) & the London Black Cab (Geely Group, China) have not been spared. Only the aforementioned mechanical/stylistic horror that is Vauxhall has been left alone, wonder why . . .

Similarly, English football clubs seem to be heading the same way of its automotive industry. Aston Villa (Randy Lerner, USA), Fulham (Mohd Al-Fayed, Egypt), Liverpool (Gillette & Hicks, USA), Chelsea (Roman Abromovich, Russia), Portsmouth (Gaydamak family, Russia), Man Utd (Glazer family, USA), Birmingham City (Carson Yueng, Hong Kong), are all foreign owned and with every indication that Arsenal will also be going the same route.

Now, here in a terribly roundabout way, I'd like to make me point. If the incredibly proud Brits are willing to accept (albeit grudgingly) the sale of national treasures/icons to slimy foreigners, why shouldn't we accept that Proton might be better off with VW or some other foreign behemoth?

I have heard from various quarters why this symbol of "national" pride must be saved at all costs. Some have called fer 20-year old cars to be scrapped to which I say, "NO FOOKING WAY!". This is a company that is massively hemorrhaging public funds. And lest we forget, in order to protect its plastic ass, we have the National Automotive Policy which makes everything else fooking expensive - almost ridiculously so. Why talk about Vision 2020 when we can't even compete in a free market in 2007, eh? And please, don't give me the tirade bout globalisation is another form of colonialism. How is it acceptable that we continuously bail out this sinking (sunken?) Titanic fer the benefit of the few wankers who profit from it?

While we wait for Proton to play catch-up, we end up paying over the odds fer sub-standard vehicles. Think about it, M'sia is still the most vibrant & largest car market in SEA. So why are deprived of the many safety aspects that are standard in other countries - air bags fer all passengers, sat nav, anti-lock braking, traction control etc?

Just like the Brits before, Proton were content on selling same old shit fer decades without any real improvements? Sure la, people get fed up. Now, its time to sell up & quite possibly open the market to outsiders. Stiff competition has a way of eliminating the mouldy & rotten aspects of any industry - especially one that is beset with cronies still trying to wring every last sen out of a cash cow's squashed udder.

Yes, I am sure many families were made mobile by Proton's (artficially) affordable wheels. But just like the once-stagnant British car industry, it needs to change with the times. As per mentioned above, due to Ford's billions, Jaguar has now come up with another batch of world-conquering saloons & coupes. Aston Martin is famous enough to be a Desperate Housewive's ultimate asseccory (Gabriel Sollis drives a purple DB9 convertible). The new Mini has vowed a new generation (though I am still a fan of the classic model) & Rolls Royce has reclaimed "the best car in the world" tag.

Of course, the one glaring omission is Lotus which was bought by Proton as a glamour accessory. In all those years of ownership, what besides the Satria GT's suspension were this Norfolk outfit's expertise utilised? Fookin waste or what?!? (Yes, the Savvy has a chassis & other bits designed by Lotus, but frankly, it looks like fooking shite).

Time to sell up & move on I say . . . & maybe even hope fer some better cars on the roads that might help reduce our record-breaking accident rates.

PS: Before anyone lambasts me fer me Monster, please note that I currently own two Minis (1965 MkI & a 1973 MkII). At least me Jap car is a tribute to the heyday of British open top motoring.

PSS: Check out video above fer more proof that Protons are complete shite. A Ford Fooking Fiesta did better than it did in a crash test . . . the horror, the horror . . .


senorita... said...

very true.. i dun understand why they still hold on to a sinking ship... so called "saving" the national pride is more like making the ship sink faster. and honestly,how many ppl are still proud of these national cars?

20-yr old cars scrapped? i'm sure all d car enthusiasts will make up a mob and parade outside of Putrajaya as a lot of classic babies are still on d road and rockin'

u join any comp./event with ya Minis?

anfield devotee said...

senorita: The Mini clubs feature cars which are too dashyat la.
Am planning to refurbish the MkI to concourse standards (or thereabouts), then maybe, yes, I'll go fer a classic car run.
Recently missed a mx5 run to Bagan Datuk, sigh . . . waiting fer next event

senorita... said...

ooooh... shud b fun

Mark said...

You don't have to look at the crash test results mate. I yanked my door handle off twice and broke my glove compartment handle once. It would have been foolish for me to believe my old Waja could have protected me from a 40mph collision. Needless to say, I'd rather buy a 10 year old Japanese car than a new Proton, but that's just me.