As they drove out, the delivery drivers were all pointing and laughing

In my last column I wrote about the terrible moment when I realised due to advances in automobile marketing, design and engineering that there are no funny cars any more! This was a terrifying conclusion for someone like me who's made a good living partly by laughing at other people's cars. What was I to do?

In my last column I wrote about the terrible moment when I realised due to advances in automobile marketing, design and engineering that there are no funny cars any more! This was a terrifying conclusion for someone like me who's made a good living partly by laughing at other people's cars. What was I to do?

Luckily I have many contacts in the industry and so in the last 18 months my friends at MG Rover have helped me enormously in my quest to bring the funny, crap car back to the marketplace.

First off they brought out the hilarious Rover Streetwise, a jacked-up Rover 25 with plastic cladding, attempting ineptly to give it the look of an off-roader and reminiscent of the hilarious Matra Rancho of the 1970s, there's the MG SV two-door coupe, a comical fright of a car made in Italy by a failed manufacturer they bought for some bizarre reason then didn't know what to do with. More recently of course there's the CityRover, following in the clown-sized footsteps of the Triumph Acclaim, where just as in the great days of the past they've stuck a Rover badge on a bland import and are now amusingly trying to charge 25 per cent too much for it.

NowI find my friends in the Midlands have bought a closed-down FSO plant in Poland, can you imagine the uproarious vehicles that will emerge from that place? Hats off toRover, saviours of the crap comedy car!

In Europe, given that Rover have a tiny presence there, things are even tougher for connoisseurs of the funny car. I suppose the nearest thing to a comedy vehicle manufacturer has to be Fiat. Though their associated brands such as Maserati, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo are by and large smart and desirable there has been something desperately wrong with Fiats for years -- the Multipla, the Stilo and now the new bland corporate nose show an uncertainty about where to locate the products.

A few years ago I recall noticing photos of an economy car they were proposing to build called the "Econobasic". Without doubt the ugliest-looking thing I've seen since the 1970s, it resembled a car that a character might drive in a badly animated Eastern European puppet series about a man called Glompa who sells furniture made out of beetroot around the villages of Lower Silesia. Although Fiat decided not to make the Econobasic, I can see several of its design clues which have turned up in another of the strangest vehicles on our roads -- the Fiat Doblo.

Last week a couple of female friends came to stay at our place in Southern Spain. They had booked a perfectly decent Ford Ka from a local rental firm but at the desk at Malaga Airport were offered seductively "an upgrade to a bigger car at no extra cost". With images of a swish Opel Vectra or a Mk V Golf, they were shown to a new Fiat Doblo. Apparently as they drove out of the yard the delivery drivers were all pointing and laughing and when they arrived to meet us at the local bar my wife says my first words were "who gave them that?!".

Nevertheless, having the Doblo around gave me a chance to examine a type of vehicle I wouldn't normally have anything to do with. Priced on a par with the Renault Kangoo and Citroën Berlingo it is much larger than either: when I sat in the passenger seat my feet hardly touched the floor and I'm not a small man (though I'm not a tall man either) while there was still enough room above me for a large ginger cat to sit on my head.

In the end, I rather took to the Doblo and if I was in the market for an MPV I would consider it. Indeed, as we rolled about the province of Granada in our big, blue car I was moved to make up a Spanish TV advertising song for the vehicle. It goes: "Doblo, Doblo, Doblo, Doblo, Doblo, Doblo! Doblo el coche! Doble el fun!" Which means, "Doblo, Doblo, Doblo, Doblo, Doblo, Doblo! Doblo the car! Double the fun!" For Spain this is a sophisticated advert and will probably win some kind of award.

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