The contractual wrangling of motoring, every month
FORD FOCUSES ON EXCITINGNESS
No sooner has Ford unveiled its brand new Focus than Sniff Petrol has exclusively unearthed details of the company's radical marketing plan for the new model. According to Blue Oval sources, the car maker is keen to attract young buyers to the new model and, in line with this aim, is to launch a series of branded extreme sports holidays to reflect the excitement of the mk2 Focus's styling.
"That's right," agreed a unnamed Ford manager, unnecessarily. "We want to offer a series of get-up-and-go breaks that will be as thrilling as looking at the new Focus itself. Obviously we're still working on the details but expect to see a range of activities including 'walking round the corner to post a letter', 'sitting on the sofa looking at the blank TV because you're too lethargic even to get up and switch it on', and 'getting someone else to apply a fresh coat of white emulsion to a blank wall so you can stare at it for five hours'".
Spies at Ford HQ have even hinted that a top of the range extreme activity holiday could involve a unique package aimed at making participants 'slip into a coma', although one senior source confessed that this may be "rather more exciting than the Focus itself".
The new Focus three door, yesterday
MERC FLOUNDERS IN ALPHABET FIASCO
There was panic in Stuttgart this week as Mercedes realised it is running out of capital letters. The German car giant has long used the alphabet as a way of naming various models and has previously had no trouble in finding letters such as C, E and S to apply to its cars. However, with the company's new proliferation of models and variants, Mercedes management has been sent into turmoil with the realisation that there aren't many letters left.
"There are 26 letters in the alphabet," noted Dr Parpnice Muesli, Head of Name Studies and Stating The Bleeding Obvious at St Gobain College, Farting. "Mercedes used to be spoilt for choice because, for example, back in the '70s they made about six models. Now by 2006 they will make about 70 models. There just aren't enough letters left".
Industry analysts say that the forthcoming B-, R- and X-class models will eat up already scant alphabet resources and that Merc is already showing signs of desperate measures to tackle the problem by combining existing letters and numbers into long-winded and confusing names such as CLS 55 AMG.
"When Mercedes ran a series of adverts claiming they made a car to suit everyone, no one realised they meant it literally," noted a senior from a rival manufacturer. "God help them if some bloke writes in asking for a 4x4 coupe MPV or something. They'll have to develop another new model just for him and heaven help them in finding a spare letter of the alphabet to name it".
However, sources close to Mercedes bosses say the company could have an audacious solution to the problem - inventing its own alphabet. "We've already come up with one design for a new letter which will denote a forthcoming medium-sized seven seater cabriolet amphibious model," said one insider. "It's a sort of cross with extra lines coming off each arm at right angles� oh shit".
How a new Merc H-class might look in the future, yesterday
(photo: Auto Bilg)
NEW BOOK MAKES MYTHS EXPLODE, NOT LITERALLY
A new book of car-related quotations is set to debunk some popular myths about the motor industry. The Medium Sized Book Of Car Quotes, published this week by transport publisher Cars & Trains & Shit, is packed full of words of wisdom from notable car people including a fascinating section which sets the record straight about some legendary mis-quotes, most notably Henry Ford's famous declaration "any colour as long as it's black".
"Not many people know that Henry Ford never said those words," says Car Quotes editor Simon "Soapy" Titwank. "Ford was of course a master publicist and a pioneer of marketing techniques which are still used in car brochures to this day. I'm pleased to set the record straight and establish that what he actually said was, 'Our cars are available in any colour, as long as it's Midnight Oasis Metallic'".
Colin Chapman is another legendary car boss to feature in the new book, as the truth about his "add lightness" mantra is exposed. "Chapman never said any such thing," claims Titwank. "He was viewing a prototype of the original Elan when we believe the misheard quote was made. As a keen smoker he was actually commenting on the lack of adequate cigarette ignition provision in that model, hence our publication of the actual quote 'Add lighters'".
However, Car Quotes isn't all about exploding myths; Another section of the book, entitled "Hidden Gems", gathers together little heard quotes from some famous car industry figures, including an enthralling moment from the Turin Motor Show of 1978 when Giorgetto Giugiaro called Sergio Pininfarina a "bummer" and a rare interview with Kimi Raikkonen in which the normally tedious driver announces that he is "hot and horny, let's go to a casino and get hookers".
MOSELEY IN KITCHENWARE COCK UP
There were red faces at the FIA this week after two bizarre items of kitchenware were found in a bag belonging to Max Mosley. This latest embarrassing discovery comes soon after a difficult few weeks for the FIA president, starting with the announcement that he was to retire from his post which he followed with a stinging attack on F1 team bosses' ability to "change their minds completely", and then the surprise announcement that he was rescinding his resignation decision.
"Max has had a tough year," said a man standing near the FIA offices. "So this latest kitchen receptacle revelation will be the last thing he needs".
At the moment details about the nature of the kitchen items are sketchy but one of them is believed to be a large type of pan and there are unconfirmed reports that the other was some sort of tall water bearing vessel with a spout and a heating element able to bring the water therein to boiling point. As yet there is no official news about what colour these two items might be, but at least one FIA insider has hinted that they appeared to be "very very very dark grey".
Another sort of Black, yesterday
� 2004. Sniff Petrol every month. Next issue 1 October
Written by Sniff Petrol, with thanks to Alan Ripley and Poo