Welcome to another edition of PetrolBlog’s Weekend Supplement. A weekly round-up of news and waffle that should go nicely with your fresh orange juice and toast.
In this week’s edition we look at the What Car? satisfaction survey, the Scirocco you can’t buy, take a trip down memory lane with Steve Soper, reminisce about Auto Trader and get all steamed up about a Ford Orion.
So just the usual level of tripe then?
Can’t get no satisfaction?
This week, What Car? and JD Power revealed the results of the 2013 UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study. A mighty fine read if you’re one of the bosses at Skoda, Jaguar, Lexus or Honda, less delightful if you happen to be involved with Chevrolet, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Mitsubishi or Peugeot. The fact that Skoda picked up a one-two for the best models with the Superb and Yeti deserves a mention – both fine cars that are much loved at PBHQ. The cakes are on you, Skoda.
But looking at the list of cars that provide the least satisfaction, I started thinking. It can’t be a coincidence that of the bottom 11, all but two could be classed as a small car. The Chevrolet Spark went straight in at the bottom, narrowly holding off the challenge of the Alfa Romeo MiTo and Fiat Punto. Even the Fiat Panda – one of PetrolBlog’s favourites – turned in a dismal performance.
So what’s wrong with our small cars? Looking at the results it’s as though you need to drive a big car to enjoy supreme quality and good dealer service. Are our superminis simply not that super? I’m not so sure.
Modern superminis are better than ever – often loaded with a level of standard equipment to rival that of their bigger and fatter cousins and enough safety features to keep you safe in the urban jungle. What’s more they tend to be cheaper to run, easier to drive and much easier to live with. Are we expecting too much from our pint-sized heroes?
I genuinely don’t know – you tell me. Does the novelty factor wear off after a few weeks? Are the dealers not giving them the same level of respect afforded to the family and executive saloons? Answers on a postcard…etc, etc…
A million to one shot?
Volkswagen is celebrating the one millionth Scirocco by releasing a special edition to mark the occasion – the aptly, if rather predictably named, Scirocco Million.
In standard special edition procedure, it’s treated to a unique paint job and a few extra gubbins inside. That’s the good news. The bad news is – you can’t buy one – sales are limited to the German and Chinese markets only. Boo, hiss, etc, etc.
But that doesn’t matter – at least Volkswagen had the decency to release a photo showing the ‘Scirocco you can’t buy’ alongside the epic, the wonderful, the timeless and the sublime MK1 Scirocco. Lap it up. Beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Steve Soper is making a return
For those of us of a certain age, the name Steve Soper brings to mind images of fast and frenetic racing from the ’80s and ’90s. Who can forget his epic tussle with Andy Rouse at Brands Hatch in 1988? It’s like watching a pair of Scalextric Ford Sierras charging round the track.
In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a reminder. Take it from me, whatever’s on TV now, it simply can’t top this “titanic scrap” between the ‘Texaco Sierra’ and the ‘Kaliber Sierra’. Also look out for some retro-style racing antics from Mike Smith…
So the news that Steve Soper is to make a return to racing at this year’s Silverstone Classic is a good thing. Not least because it gives us the chance to relive the ‘classic’ MG Montego promotional video starring Soper and Ian ‘The Saint’ Ogilvy.
The video just about manages to stay the right side of cringeworthy, but the acting skills still leave a lot to be desired. Even now the Montego’s handling looks a little suspect and that gearbox looks far from precise. But it’s a good trip down memory lane and it hasn’t stopped me wanting a Montego. Check out the video at the top of the page.
Farewell Auto Trader
It was inevitable really – the print edition of Auto Trader only has a month to live. Its circulation has dropped from a peak of 368,000 in January 2000 to just 27,000 in March 2013. Compare this to the website which now receives 11 million unique visitors every month. For the magazine it was a question of when, not if it would be pulled from the shelves.
For a generation of car enthusiasts this news will be greeted with a resounding “meh”. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some people weren’t even aware a print edition existed – which is a shame.
As a 17-year old, Auto Trader was an essential part of my week. Even if I wasn’t actively looking for a new car, (an admittedly rare occurrence), I’d often rush to the newsagents first thing on a Thursday morning to grab my copy. In my day the majority of small ads were black and white, so it was almost impossible to work out the condition of a car from the photo.
And as these were the days before digital, you had to arrange for a photographer to come round to your house to take a photo of your car. How times have changed!
There was also a character limit on the description, which is where the likes of FSH, T&T and CL came from. It was all about maximising space – getting as much info into the ad as possible. The good cars always went quickly – you need to remember that there simply weren’t that many places to buy and sell cars in those days. It was all about the high street, the auctions and the Auto Trader. Today you’re only a couple of clicks away from just about every car for sale in the world.
So I will be buying the last edition of Auto Trader on June 28th. I’ll get to the newsagents at the crack of dawn, pick up a copy and then head round the corner to the greasy spoon café. Armed with a big mug of tea I’ll set about circling all the appealing cars with by trusty red Bic. Ah, nostalgia. Thanks for the good memories, Auto Trader.
Weekend Want: Ford Orion 1.6i Ghia
Wow – how clean does this look? Maybe it’s the nostalgia trip brought on by the talk of Auto Trader, but I can’t help but yearn for this Orion One Point Six Injection Ghia.
During my college years, this was the car I held above all else – the thinking lad’s Ford Escort XR3i. Prices still lag behind those of the Escort, but they command a solid fee. I’d expect the price of this one to rise considerably before the auction ends next week.
It’s been in storage since 1994 and has just emerged from an extra-long hibernation to be prepared for active service. Time to wake up, sleeping beauty. A definite example of a good Shatchback.
Have a look at the Ford Orion 1.6i Ghia for sale here.
That’s it for another week. Join us next week when our guests will include Russell Grant, Johnny Ball and Spit the Dog. Actually we may have made that up. Enjoy your Special K and grapefruit segments.