Monday, 23 July 2012

An open letter to Adam Vauxhall

DEAR Adam,

I thought I'd use my motoring column this week to write you, the new Vauxhall that's being pitched squarely at the MINI and the Fiat 500, an open letter.

Your creators have given you a human name to make you a bit more cute and cuddly, as though you're a beloved family friend rather than a tonne of metal on the driveway outside. You're emphatically not ‘the Adam'. You're just Adam, which I suppose saves people having to come up with their own pet names for you.

A couple of car fans I know have already been a bit cruel about you - why, they ask, have your creators broken into Ford's offices, cheekily photcopied the designs for the original Ka, and then tried to hide the crime by adding a couple of styling cues from other Vauxhall models? There's also the motoring press wondering how you'll compete with the cachet of the MINI Cooper and the Fiat 500, surely your closest competitors when you arrive in the showrooms next year. But, more than anything, it's your name that's got people flummoxed.

It's alright, I understand. On the continent you're sold as Adam Opel, which means you're named in honour of the man who set up one of Germany's oldest car companies. It's a bit like that time when millionaire hedonists were offered the chance to buy an Enzo Ferrari a couple of years ago, but the problem is that there never was a Brit motoring pioneer called Adam Vauxhall. In this country at least, the historical reference is completely lost on buyers.

Does it matter? Not, I reckon, if you offer your potential new owners the trick MINI, the Fiat 500 and Alfa's MiTo make their schtick; solid underpinnings dressed up in stylish clothes and garnished with a fun-to-drive feel. A trendy title is only half the story, which is why Chrysler's PT Cruiser left us cynical Brits, looking for substance to match the style, a bit cold. The new MINI, on the other hand, would still be brilliant even if it looked like a fridge rather than a ripoff of a cult classic. It offers an awful lot more than an evocative badge and a pretty face.

It's a shame, Adam, you weren't given a cooler-sounding moniker, but I look forward to finding out soon what you can bring to the small car table.

Best regards,

David Simister, Life On Cars

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