Ridiculed Mexico carmaker hopes to have the last laugh

The maxim that every cloud has a silver lining was never truer than for Mexico's Mastretta car company, which gained world attention after being ridiculed on a British television show.

Now Mastretta hopes to parlay its new-found fame into greater car sales, even though the popular BBC program "Top Gear" dismissed the cars produced by the Mexican carmaker as "lazy", "feckless" and "flatulent" - qualities it said paralleled the national character.

The company's marquis vehicle - the sleek sports car Mastretta MXT - was also derided as little more than a giant "tortilla" on wheels.

The resulting imbroglio became a full scale diplomatic incident, with Mexico angrily demanding a retraction from the broadcaster.

The show is one of the BBC's most popular, with a global audience of some 350 million viewers - to the initial chagrin of the company's general manager Carlos Mastretta.

"It was a real annoyance, because in truth, the show used the car as a pretext to make comments said to be humorous, but which in reality were xenophobic, discriminatory and racist," Mastretta said at the company's factory in Ocoyoacac, some 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Mexico City.

But the controversy has had the unexpected up-side of bringing the formerly obscure auto maker to international prominence.

Suddenly Internet traffic on the company's website shot up, and there was even an increase in visits to the factory.

Better still, orders for the MXT are beginning to pour in.

"I have various agreements with distributors in Europe and we're in initial talks with countries in Latin America like Brazil and Chile," said Mastretta.

He added his company also was beginning to receive inquiries from the United States.

For more than two decades Mastretta has been a leading designer of public transportation vehicles, which is the way even most Mexicans are familiar with the firm.

"I've known of the Mastretta company for years, but I didn't know about this car," said Jose Melgarejo, 32, a longtime fan of all things automotive.

"I first heard about it through the controversy over the Top Gear program, and so I came to have a look at the car," he said.

The MXT is returning to the company's creative roots, said Mastretta, whose Italian forebears founded the company and whose father learned the art of auto-making from the legendary Enzo Ferrari.

The high performance vehicle aims to give some better known sports cars a run for their money in the performance department. Engineers began work on the MXT in 2005 with government and private funds, and now are putting the finishing touches on the car.

The MXT accelerates from 0 to 100 kilometers (62 miles) in 4.6 seconds, has a top speed of 230 kilometers per hour and a sticker price of around $60,000, Mastretta said.

Mastretta explained that production volume for the first year will be 100 units, gradually increasing production to 400 and 500 units in the third and fourth year.

The BBC said hundreds of Mexicans had contacted its Spanish-language website BBC Mundo to complain about the remarks on Top Gear, which Mexico's ambassador to London decried as "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults".

The broadcaster issued an apology, but at the same time defended the jokes about the country as being part of British humor.

"The show has explained they were making comic use of a stereotype; a practice with which regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar," the broadcaster said.

Mastretta is convinced that once production gets underway, the car will be a hot seller - including in the country whose mocking remarks engendered so much dismay.

"In a month and a half it will be in Great Britain," said Mastretta who might well have added that he'll see who will have the last laugh.

sem/sg/jkb-ns

 

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

    £40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

    Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

    £26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

    £17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

    Day In a Page

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?