They were simpler times. A prawn cocktail starter and a bottle of Liebfraumilch. Two things guaranteed to make a suburban couple of the late 1970s feel posh. The Beverlys and Laurences of Britain were getting ideas above their station.
Mainstream was no longer acceptable. Continental flavours were in vogue. The Renault 14 Safrane hit the market.
Velour and deep-pile carpets were the automotive equivalent of ordering half a bottle of Blue Nun and sticking a paper umbrella in your Piña Colada. Metallic paint, stripes and colour-coded wheels to catch the eye of the curtain twitchers. It'll look good parked alongside the Pampas grass.
The aristocratic personal touch
A map-reading light for those transcontinental trips to Sainsbury's. UK sales limited to 900 for a whiff of exclusivity. “It is in the nature of a limited edition that a very great many people cannot own it,” was Renault's proud boast. “Thousands of people who would like a Safrane will have to buy the ‘standard’ Renault 14 instead – which is no ordinary car at all!”
But the ultimate luxury. The pineapple ring atop a slice of gammon. The duck liver pâté on a triangle of toast. The cream on top of the after-dinner coffee. That'd be the aluminium plate.
An aluminium plate to which the dealer could fix the owner's initials. “For the aristocratic personal touch,” proclaimed Renault. We've hit the big time now, dear. Our initials on an aluminium plate. The Joneses will be crying into their Yugoslav Riesling.
Even at £3117 (the equivalent of around £18,000 in today's money), the Renault 14 Safrane would have been a hard sell. Did Renault even manage to shift the 900 cars allocated to the UK? One thing's for sure: there doesn't appear to be a single 14 Safrane left in this country.
There are a few on the other side of the English Channel, Beverly, if you fancy an excursion. An excuse to stock up on some French plunk or Dutch cheese for Abigail's Party. Is that real saffron, Angela?
Dutch Renault 14 Safrane image courtesy of the Renault 14 Facebook page.