Dear Mike Baldwin: A Jaguar buff sympathises with Coronation Street's Cockney on the make. After all, where would the marque be without people like him and Arfur Daley?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A colleague described you as the JR Ewing of Coronation Street. A bit unkind, perhaps, but it does mean that you're considered a spiv of international standing, a bit too big for Salford and the Street. So I was hardly surprised to learn that you drove a Jag in Granada TV's perennial Lancashire soap. The fact that you are a Cockney spiv doing a few deals Up North, in and out the Rovers Return, makes your choice of motor perfect.

For which Cockney entrepreneur worth his weight in monkeys opts for a BMW when he can purr about in one of the big mechanical cats from Coventry? And, what is a Jag to those who respect the marque but a country club on wheels, a twin-cam golf-cart, a mobile memorial to Ronnie and Reggie and every other gentleman trying to make a bit of honest dosh?

So, Mike, I grieve to hear that the executives at Jag's Coventry headquarters no longer want to have anything to do with you. Taking back your four-year-old Series III XJ6 Sovereign is something of a blow to your reputation: 'We no longer want to associate with the character (of Mike Baldwin, played by 59-year-old actor Johnny Briggs). We are very selective about which TV programmes use our cars. They have to be consistent with our image.'

Is this the act of gentlemen? Hardly. Disrespect, I'd say, for a perfect representative of Thatcherite values. Arthur Daley (George Cole) of Minder fame, another celebrated, if slightly dodgy, Eighties-style entrepreneur chose the XJ6 as his personal jam jar; would they refuse him a new Jag?

In fact, you liked the big smoker so much that that you drove it off-screen under your alias Johnny Briggs. As Briggs, you have refused to pay them the pounds 400 a month they want for use of the car away from the Street. Like a true gent, you told them 'to stick it'.

Mind you, Mike, I can understand the suits at Coventry getting hot under the collar when in one programme you got into a bit of 'wad' trouble and hired the Jag out as an executive taxi.

Granted, these are hard times and an XJ6 is not exactly the cheapest set of wheels with which to irritate the gravel. But where would Jaguar be today without gentlemen like you and Arthur Daley?

Jaguar survived the bad old days of British Leyland because buffs stayed loyal to the marque, even though the cars weren't exactly reliable. Today, Jaguar is owned by Ford and the latest XJs are as well built as BMWs.

As a Jag buff who has restored, raced and rallied D-Types to Sovereigns, I think Jaguar's image would be well served by having you, Arthur Daley and other popular business gentlemen promoting the svelte cars we all know, love and top up, now and then, with a few gallons of 20/50w.

Gawd bless yer,

Jonathan Glancey

(Photograph omitted)

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