Anyone who has ever been to a trade show will be aware of what monumentally dull affairs they are. Exhibition halls bigger than American fridges are filled to bursting point with stand after stand of besuited bores eulogising about their particular bit of technology and its role in industries so dull that if you ever discussed them in real life it would result in instant social castration.
Show me someone who could get excited about attending events such as The Cleaning Show, Subpostmaster Show or The International Brazing and Soldering Conference and I’ll show you someone who I really don’t want to get trapped in a lift with.
Thankfully, when it comes to putting on an expo, the automotive industry manages to buck the trend. Take motor sport exhibitions, where the vehicles vie for attention with svelte young ladies wearing attire that their mothers may struggle to approve of. The trucking community is also not averse to having a little fleshy exposure in proceedings and distinguishing between a gathering of motor cycle manufacturers and soft-core pornographers is nigh on impossible.
Main stream motor vehicle manufacturers by and large do not resort to quite such base tactics, but thanks to glamorous product launches still manage to pull off an air of excitement. The largest of the breed – the Frankfurt Motor Show – kicked off this week and has already proved to be an extravaganza of exciting new metal as manufacturer’s battle to produce the star turn.
As the ‘Car & SUV’ credit card didn’t quite stretch to the business class return tickets necessary to get me to Frankfurt, I’ve personally missed out on the German frivolities, but thankfully the one launch that really piqued my interest landed in my inbox last week courtesy of the Ford media machine – that of the Evos.
The reason for my fascination is that this is the car that has been touted to blow away the rather sour memories of the Probe and Cougar and give the boys from the blue oval a genuine successor to one of my all time favourites; the Capri.
Sadly it took about 8 seconds of reading the press pack to tell me that it wasn’t going to be.
Although I must start by lavishing a little well deserved praise on the design team that has come up with what is an incredibly striking car. While no-one will be fooled into thinking the gloriously extravagant doors will make it anywhere near a production line, the whole shape is very pleasing.
The problem is the extravagance doesn’t stop with the doors. Whole sheds of technology have been thrown at the Evos to ensure it is at the very pinnacle of sophisticated 21st century motoring. It comes complete with a lithium ion power train, driver wellness monitoring systems and can connect to ‘the cloud’.
And while this is all very impressive, it is a long way from being Capri-like. The Capri was brilliant in its simplicity; take a rorty engine and place it under a suitably phallic bonnet, drive it through the rear wheels and make sure the suspension was just archaic enough to be not very good in an entirely entertaining way.
While there is always the nagging suspicion that the Mustang – Ford’s other great hero of blue collar workers – was an all-American, big screen, automotive interpretation of the working man, with the Capri you were never in doubt that you were in the company of the real deal. If it were human the Capri would have been called Keith and worked in a mine. His daily calorific intake would have been gained thanks to a 50/50 split of pastry based foods and dark beer and he would always have had the best jokes at the rugby club. In short, a bloody good fella.
The problem is, it seems bloody good just won’t do for motoring manufacturers any more and they perceive their brand images are better served by cars which combine the body of SBW with the brains of Steve Jobs. And this seems a pity, because it would be a darn sight cheaper to leave out the supercomputers and start building cars using pig iron and hilarity again.
And this would mean that when the motor shows come around, they could use all the spare change to poach some of the bikini girls from the bikers. Which is something I suspect Keith would wholeheartedly approve of.