Leading article: Bring on the old bangers

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To the economic downturn and the poor exchange rate of the pound has been added a further aggravation for travellers: a shortage of cars for hire. Would-be holidaymakers are finding either that there are no cars at all or that the price has been jacked up several times over. Some are cancelling trips altogether where a car is required to reach the destination. The standard explanation is that hire companies reduced orders for new cars, anticipating a sharp decline in the numbers taking holidays. In part, they seem to have been caught out by the surge in last-minute bookings.

But some travellers are, reasonably, asking why, in the absence of new cars, hire companies seem so reluctant to rent out older, or less perfect, cars at reduced rates. You don't have to go so far as to embrace the concept of Rent-a-Wreck to appreciate that a cut-price rate for a vehicle with a few blemishes and a minor dent might be just the job in these straitened times.