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

 

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

    Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

    Senior Marketing Executive (B2B/B2C) - London

    £32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Urgently looking for Qualified Teachers and NQT's

    £110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Urgently looking for Quali...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried