The unspecified allegation of motoring, every month
FERRARI SCAGLIETTI 'WRONG WAY ROUND'
There were red faces at Ferrari this week after it emerged that some silly clot had designed its new 612 Scaglietti the wrong way round. Fans of the Poncey Horse were initially puzzled by the new car's unusual appearance, and in particular the contrived, overly long nose and ungainly, sagging rear. Now it seems these curious proportions are the result of a mix up at Italian design house Pininfarina where all modern Ferraris are designed using special pencils. Sources say that when designers received key chassis diagrams they accidentally pinned them to a wall upside down and set about sketching the body to fit. By the time the error was spotted, no one could be bothered to do anything about it and, instead of a short, pert rear and a long, thrusting front overhang, the 612 has ended up looking quite rubbish.
Ferrari's amusing overhang-based error isn't the first time car designers have misunderstood things. For example, the stylists behind the Porsche Cayenne completely misheard a management request to make a nice looking car.
FIAT SUED BY PANDA
When Fiat was forced to abandon the 'Gingo' name for its new small car following an objection from Renault that it sounded too similar to 'Twingo' the Italians thought they had the perfect solution in re-using the old Panda badge. Now they may be forced to re-think this decision following a threat of legal action from an actual panda. 'The simple fact is, we got there first,' claimed the panda, whose name is Steve. 'The panda name has been in my family for years and if it's just slapped onto some other product the potential for confusion is unimaginable. Just think if someone went out to buy a small Italian car and inadvertently came home with a massive black and white bear. It would be confusing and inconvenient for all concerned.' Steve was also quick to rebuff those who have pointed out that Fiat has already used the Panda name for 23 years, and questioned why it has taken him until now to lodge a complaint; 'Look,' he spat. 'I'm a panda. We're very slow moving.'
Faced with this tubby, shagging-phobic ursine attack Fiat management has already prepared some new names to apply to its latest model; 'We're pretty confident we can find a name that won't get us into trouble,' said one senior source. 'What about the Fiat Coca? Or the Microsoff? Oh bollocks�'
NEW VOLVO S40 27% MORE PLEASANT
Volvo's brand new S40 has already attracted praise for its unusually compact five cylinder engines, sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and something described as a 'floating centre console' which presumably means you'd better keep the windows shut. However, Volvo's engineers are said to be especially proud to have achieved a remarkable 27 percent increase in pleasantness, compared to the previous S40. 'Along with safety and nice seats and headlights you can't turn off, being pleasant is a key Volvo quality,' claimed S40 project leader Bjorn Ulvaeus (out of Abba). 'We're very proud of this pleasant increase. The S40's pleasantness performance is now as good as the larger S80.' Sources say that this impressive level of just, you know, somehow being quite nice was achieved thanks to careful development work. 'That's right,' agreed Ulvaeus (out of Abba). 'To inspire the project team we decorated the main design offices with pictures of Thora Hird and the bloke who does the voice of Wallace & Gromit whilst key members of the team spent time drinking nice cups of tea and listening to Travis CDs. Mmm, that's good pleasantness.'
Of course, not everything from Sweden is so pleasant. A Sunday afternoon spent in a branch of IKEA, for example, has been scientifically proven to be slightly less pleasant than having a park bench welded to your eyelids and then being thrown into the sea.
The Tokyo Motor Show can be relied upon to provide lots of interesting concept cars, and that's what happened this year as usual. Here are some of they:
What's it called? Suzuki Sliding Pantry
What's special about it? Described as 'urban living excellence space', the Living Pantry has an edible floor and too many doors.
What's it called? Toyota NG Potato Face
What's special about it? The most radical of Toyota's many concepts at the show, this tiny one seater features an integrated toilet facility and on-line shopping slot facility. 'You'll never need leave,' says the brochure. 'In fact you can't. YOU CAN'T. NO.'
What's it called? Subaru Special Nnnnnnnnng
What's special about it? Subaru's vision of a city car for the future is light, compact and made of cheeses. Also features 'optimised utility drive comfort system concept', which looks unhygenic.
What's it called? Honda KGX Rasper
What's special about it? A forward looking executive car that is so sleek and aerodynamically efficient it is impossible to look at it. Interior design was inspired by television presenter Anneka Rice.
� 2003. Sniff Petrol every month. Next issue 5 December
Written by Sniff Petrol, with thanks to Stephen Grant and Poo