Drive on and don't look back
Saturday 25 February 1995
The Pacific team, wooden spooner of 1994, thought Lotus would help it get extra sponsors, and so merged with Chapman's old team. So Lotus isn't dead, in name. It is merely dead in spirit. Still, the Grand Prix old boys are satisfied, and the one-time premier team in GP racing is facing another season of tail-end ignominy.
Why are we British so obsessed by great old names? Is it our perpetual fondness for the past, on the basis that we never had it so good back then? Why not let Lotus die, in Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest fashion, and celebrate the fact that loads of other British makes now dominate GP racing.
It's much the same with road cars. Britain is the world's only major producer of a big-selling car that's more than 30 years old. The Mini is small and fun and characterful, sure, but it's also slow and noisy and cramped and a bad place to be in a crash.
New car, old name: the Aston Martin DB7 is very handsome and, once early production glitches are sorted, it will probably be very good. But the only Aston Martin thing about it is the badge. It is a Jaguar, and an old Jaguar at that, bankrolled by Ford, built in a characterless new factory by machines. It is called an Aston purely to tug the emotions of heritage fanatics, and hark back to the great old days of Le Mans wins, cloth caps, cast-iron roadside furniture, and to a time when the peasantry - if they could afford a car - would at least get out of a chap's way.
As with Lotus, Aston's great days are not now, they were then. Back in the Fifties and Sixties, Astons won sports car races and were special and, as with Lotus, were the pride and prejudice of one eccentric man. When David Brown got rid of Aston Martin to concentrate on his tractors, the cars immediately deteriorated. Astons of the Seventies and Eighties were mostly awful.
Our sports car future lies with newer makes, such as TVR, or with established makes whose consistency hasn't wavered, such as Jaguar. They are winning sales not by looking back but by looking forward. And, no doubt, in due course they, too, will peak and deserve to perish and some other sports car company with a vision will take their place. TVR even has an up-to- date name for the yobbish Nineties: it is an abbreviation of Trevor.
Our obsession with motoring past isn't restricted to things British. When production of the 2CV ceased in Paris in 1988, a few fans of the tin snail were on hand at Levallois to mourn its passing, as the factory closed its doors for the last time. They were British, of course. The pragmatic French couldn't have cared less. They simply wanted to buy the new and vastly superior Citron AXs instead.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Life & Style blogs
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 2 Comfortable in their own skin
- 3 Japanese plant experts produce 10,000 lettuce heads a day in LED-lit indoor farm
- 4 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 5 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...