Pembroke: Hot rods on the road to Chelsea Pier

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CHAMPAGNE glasses were clinking together on the King's Road in London last night at the opening of The Pier, a US furniture chain being expanded in the UK. But while the talk was of rattan furniture, Italian ceramics and pat

chouli-scented joss sticks, some of the directors who had flown in from Texas had other thoughts on their minds.

Marvin Girouard, the company's chief operating officer, is a keen toy collector and has been spending long hours trying to add to his array of valuable 1950s tin toys. And Adrian Long, the British-born senior vice-president of merchandising, has been scurrying around trying to pick up car parts to service his passion for classic car racing.

Mr Long, who used to work at Peter Jones in Chelsea, has a formidable collection of vintage MGs and Triumphs plus seven 1950s Lotuses. 'They were the cars I grew up with when I was in England,' he said.

Mr Long races his demons at his local Texas club, The Corinthians, and claims never to have done himself serious damage. 'It's racing for old farts, really. There's not a lot of danger.'

Today he will be in Leicester buying dipsticks, seals and manifolds for an open-wheeled Lotus 51.

THE ELEVATION of Andrew Longhurst to the chair of the Council of Mortgage Lenders may have caused a few ripples in some institutions. Mr Longhurst, who has been chief executive of Cheltenham & Gloucester since 1982, is something of a maverick

It was Mr Longhurst who took the unilateral decision in July last year to raise the society's mortgage rate (even if it was by a modest 0.24 per cent to 10.99 per cent) in response to the Government's National Savings rate on its First Option Bond. The other societies soon followed, forcing the Government to back down and cut its rate.

So will the 54-year-old, a keen golfer who once played a Pro-Am with Nick Faldo ('I admired his golf, he admired my building society'), restrict his more outspoken remarks now he has risen to this august position?

'I shall have to operate on a split- personality basis,' he said, clearly intending to reserve his colourful bits for the C&G.

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MICKEY MOUSE may have got his big black ears in a flap over Euro Disney's dismal performance but, according to one recent survey, the mouse should have seen it coming. If only he read the papers.

Presswatch Quarterly monitors the number and quality of mentions of companies in the press, giving a plus mark for a positive mention and a minus score for a panning. The latest survey ranks Euro Disney hopelessly bottom of the pile with a thumping minus 921 points, the kind of dire rating usually associated with the clearing banks and the perennial hate-figure, British Rail.

But even when Euro Disney shares peaked at 1,659p in the first quarter of 1992, poor coverage earned the company a score of minus 266. The inference is that the share price owed more to Fantasia than anything in real life.

'Nobody appears to have been fooled, apart from the people who bought the shares and then didn't sell them,' a Presswatch spokesman said.

BUT WHILE Euro Disney wallows in the mire, British Aerospace has come up smelling of roses. BAe was the most favourably reported company in the papers over the past quarter, with a rating of 544 points, gliding over BT, which clocked up a surprisingly positive 476, and Reuters with 406.

Joining Euro Disney at the fag end of City comment were the hardy perennials Lloyds Bank and NatWest.

The media sector makes interesting reading this time round. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp ranked third with 416 points, but his manifestation in Britain, News International, which owns the Sun and the Times, almost took the wooden spoon with minus 126 points. As Michael Binns at Presswatch Quarterly put it: 'It seems Mr Murdoch is to be greatly admired from a distance, but not quite so appreciated closer to home.'