Monday, 12 May 2014

Why I nearly ended up buying a Daewoo Matiz

THERE may have been a few Cumberland Ales involved in my attempt to snap up an Italian-designed oddity for next to nothing.

It all started the other night, when I ended up brewing the potent cocktail that is an idle browse through eBay’s listings, a sense of automotive optimism encouraged by Jennings’ finest, and a car-loving mate who’s all too eager to egg you on. That and a premise which I’ll happily accept most of you will struggle to stomach; the Daewoo Matiz is one of the most interesting cars the great Italian designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, has ever concocted.

Yes, the Daewoo Matiz. Here’s why.

You might not have heard of Giorgetto Giugiaro or ItalDesign – the car styling consultancy he founded – but you’ll almost certainly have admired his creations. Ever wondered why the original Volkswagen Golf looked so crisp, or looked longingly at a Lotus Esprit at a car show? They’re both among his extensive back catalogue, as are the Saab 9000, the Alfa Romeo 159 and the DeLorean. That’s before you get to all the bedroom poster supercars he’s sculpted over the past half-century.

The thing is, all these cars are heralded by people in the know as design classics, and coveted accordingly, whereas it’s almost universally accepted that the Matiz is an asthmatic, dynamically-challenged city car built by a faceless Korean company that went bust over a decade ago. Yet thanks to Giugiaro – and I reckon that I might be the first person to opine this publicly – it’s so much more than that.

 For starters, the Matiz was never originally meant to be a Daewoo – the design was originally one of the ideas for the Fiat Cinquecento (another Giugiaro effort, incidentally). Yet the idea’s trip to South Korea meant it lifted a company better known then for reheating Vauxhall’s 1980s range in the microwave, as anyone familiar with the utterly appalling Nexia will testify. Look at the Matiz from that perspective and it suddenly makes sense – yes, it’s narrow and gawky, but it was the first Korean car to arrive in Britain postively brimming with personality. It’s the Fiat 500, Gangnam Style!

But the best bit about the Matiz being almost universally accepted as being a bit rubbish is that the classifieds are full of unloved examples knocking around for next to nothing, and I reckon I’d have been quids in if I’d picked up the nicely run-in early example being largely ignored online. In the end, I got outbid by just £20, but my fellow Matiz-ist has got themselves a dirt cheap car with a vaguely interesting design for just £170.

I quite like the idea of having a dirt cheap Daewoo Matiz, particularly as it’d be perfect for someone with a brace of two-seater sports cars to ferry his long-suffering friends about in. I’ll get my coat.

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