Italicised plates and Lexus-style lights? Think again

Major Waffle
Having witnessed the horror of an otherwise delightful Maserati Quattroporte adorned with an italicised personal plate, PetrolBlog calls for protection.

The planning system in the UK strikes me as pretty fair. There's a set of rules and regulations that ensure you can't simply pave our green and pleasant land and put up a parking lot. Similarly, you know you're pretty safe from waking up one morning, only to discover that your neighbour has built a 50ft statue of Vanessa Feltz in their front garden.

Admittedly, on occasions it can be a bit of a pain. I happen to live in a place where planning is governed by the dual pronged safety net/straight jacket (delete as applicable) of a conservation area and a national park. We can't so much as hang a picture on the wall or flush the downstairs loo without first seeking permission.

But like I say, in general, the planning system is a force for good. So why in god's name aren't there a similar set of rules protecting our cars? Yes, there's an annual MOT test to ensure your car is at least roadworthy, but the last time I looked, there wasn't a checkbox for good taste.

If sir fancies painting a mural of Vanessa Feltz on the bonnet of his early Ford Puma, resplendent in 'Steve McQueen silver' and original propellor alloys, there's nothing to stop him. Maybe madam would like to stick some Martini Racing stripes on her Hyundai Atoz? Go right ahead.

I'll give you a few real world examples.

Only the other day I caught sight of a Maserati Quattroporte travelling in the opposite direction. A quite delightful spectacle that managed to brighten up an otherwise dull dawdle through Dorset. But as it drew closer I noticed something horrible.

It had a personalised plate - no problem in itself - but the letters were italicised. On the basic grounds of legibility, the DVLA frown upon this. But surely on taste grounds alone it should be outlawed? Especially on something as lovely as a Quattroporte. Under the PetrolBlog planning laws, such a wanton act of bad taste wouldn't be allowed to pass.

It gets worse. The italicised plate in question was something like PAT 1. I'm making up the number, but it started with PAT.

PAT 1: Maserati Quattroporte

PAT? On a Maserati Quattroporte? Behave yourself. Any illusions of class, sophistication and sexiness evaporated in an instance. Naming five famous Belgians is tough, but try recalling one sexy Pat. Impossible.

A lady driving a Maserati should be called Francesca. Or Sophia. Not Pat. And if you are named Pat, for goodness sake don't plaster it all over the front of your beautiful Italian masterpiece. It's the equivalent of sticking a mock Tudor facade on your 1950s semi.

There are other instances. Like the eyelashes I saw attached to the headlights of an Aston Martin DB7 in London last week. I kid you not.

Or the countless examples of Lexus-style rear lights, which seem most prevalent on Renaults and Vauxhalls from the 1990s. Normally combined with plumes of blue smoke and a set of budget tyres.

I could go on, but in short, the horror has to stop. It's not possible to ruin your house without seeking permission first, so how come it's possible to ruin a car. In almost all cases a car is best left as its designer intended. Sure, there are one or two exceptions to this rule, but no amount of work is going to transform the Chrysler PT Cruiser from anything other than horrifying.

Maybe the PetrolBlog Planning System could work in a similar way to Great Britain's Listed Building categories. Grade I for cars that simply cannot be touched under any circumstances. Grade II for motors that can be subtly tweaked and Grade III for cars that are fair game. Fill your boots, do your worst, etc. Cars like the PT Cruiser. Especially the Cabrio.Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabrio

Time to call an end to italicised and crass personalised plates. Down with Lexus-style rear lights. Away with headlight eyelashes.

A planning system for cars. Better for you, better for your car, better for your eyes. You know it makes sense.

Images © Citroën, Maserati and Chrysler.