Pay Attention, It’s Time For A French Lesson

October 22nd, 2011 by Tim Grimley

The more – and almost certainly even the less – observant amongst you will have noticed that over the last few weeks there have been more than a few tenuous links made between rugby and motoring in this column. And as the biggest match in New Zealand rugby since 1987 is being played out in Auckland’s own theatre of dreams this weekend, it would be all too easy to find one more pretty loose tie-in between the unlikely bedfellows that are egg chasing and motoring.

And so, therefore, I will.

But rather than dwelling too heavily on the sport itself, my focus is rather more on one of the participants in Sunday night’s encounter – the French. As a previous inhabitant of the Northern shores of La Manche, I learned a long time ago that the only thing that could be expected from the French with any degree of certainty is the unexpected.

Ooh la la! Beauty........

Nowhere is this more certain than in the motoring world, where no-one could ever be sure if their next release was going to be a work of beauty, genius, madness or just plain badness. Sometimes, as was the case with the massively opinion polarising 2CV, they managed to do all four at once. Just for the sheer hell of it I suspect.
This is the nation that can give the Citroen DS with one hand – a vehicle of such unquestionable beauty that it makes you wonder why all cars cannot be styled in such a way – and then take it all back again with a monstrosity like the Renault Fuego with the other. But just to keep a sense of mystery, excitement and intrigue in the relationship, every so often they throw you a Peugeot 205 GTi. Followed rather quickly by a Renault Safrane.

Yet for all their little highs and lows, if you ever needed the ultimate proof that our garlic obsessed cousins are capable of crushing the world when it is least expected, look no further than the Bugatti Veyron. Yes, it sounds Italian and yes, a lot of the bits come from parent company VW, but hailing as it does from Molsheim in the Alsace, the Bugatti is every bit as French as impassive shrugging and baguettes. With its roots back in 2005, when the Gallic automotive output was typified by the blandest Peugeots in living memory, the Veyron was a stark reminder that when the Frenchies put their minds to it, they can not only take on the world, but simply blow it away with their effortless style. Continue reading “Pay Attention, It’s Time For A French Lesson” »

Try A Jimny, You’ll Be Converted

April 1st, 2011 by Tim Grimley

It is with some enthusiasm that I watch the new craze of hand-wringing that is sweeping the country in the build-up to RWC 2011. Will the waterfront look nice? Is party central going to be a) up to standard or b) even up in the first place? How will our transport infrastructure deal with the influx of egg-chasing fanatics trying to access Eden Park? People have become so fixated on the potential banana skins waiting to slip up the whole shooting match that they’ve forgotten to ask the most important question of all.

Does it really matter?

Barring a few overly precious journalists and merchant bankers complete with trophy wives who will be frequenting the corporate boxes, do rugby fans give a stuff about the window dressing that everyone else seems in such a tizz over?

Steve wasn't too happy about handing over the keys to the Jimny

Speaking as a Pom who has for many years occupied the terrace at Leicester Tigers – arguably the biggest rugby club in England in every way – the answer is “probably not”. Despite the clubs’ status it still has stands made from wood and scaffolding, comes with bugger all in the way of parking facilities and offers no food more glamorous than chicken tikka massala pie; absolutely none of which stops people showing up in their droves for every single game.

I suspect you could upholster each seat with barbed wire and greet supporters with a punch in the face and there would still be queues on match days. The simple draw of having a few beers and a good laugh with some mates whilst watching top class rugby (please remember that we from the northern hemisphere still appreciate the noble arts of rolling mauls) is what really appeals – anything beyond that is rather unnecessary.

And come November, when all is done and dusted, while a few hacks may be cooing over the canapés or bitching about  transport, the majority of stories will be coming from the fans regaling their friends with tales of all the interesting people they met, watched rugby and got drunk with. Which begs the question, why spend millions on redeveloping the waterfront when, if you want people to have a really good time, you could simply hire enough marquees to turn the main street in Kingsland into an Oktoberfest-style beer tent and be done with it? Flamboyant extravagance is all very well, but what people really get their teeth into is a bit of good old fashioned, back to basics fun. Continue reading “Try A Jimny, You’ll Be Converted” »

All Whites ‘kickin’ it Kiwi style’ World Cup bus

May 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The All Whites will be travelling around in style during the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament in South Africa in their own personalised, luxury transport. A 40-seater team coach, emblazoned with the New Zealand flag and sporting the phrase “Kickin’ It Kiwi Style”, was handed over to World Cup officials by Kia Motors at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg along with the team coaches for the other World Cup teams.

Kia Motors is a sponsor of FIFA and UEFA events that cover international competitions including the 2010 and 2014 World Cups as well as EURO 2012 and 2016.

The World Cup in South Africa is by far the largest event football event the company has been involved with and a total fleet of 207 vehicles, including personal transport for officials, is being provided by Kia, along with a technical support crew based in each host city. In addition to the luxury coaches, other vehicles include 7-seater Kia Sorento SUVs and 8-seater Kia Carnival people movers — all manufactured by Kia Motors.

“The Kickin It Kiwi Style slogan is a nice way to instill national pride as the All Whites compete in South Africa — all our hopes and best wishes will be with them,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager Kia Motors New Zealand. “Being involved actively in football marketing is an integral part of the Kia Motors vision to become a formidable player on the global automotive stage and having a New Zealand team at the World Cup finals just adds the icing on the cake.”