We need a Kath & Kim Cruze

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - TIMBLAIR blairt@dai­lytele­graph.com.au

WHERE are the gun au­to­mo­tive mar­ket­ing folk of yes­ter­year? In times past, all it took was a hint of a trend be­fore hot­shot mar­ket­ing di­vi­sions ap­plied them to a spe­cial model— that spe­cial model usu­ally be­ing some­thing ba­si­cally stan­dard, ex­cept with a layer of trend du jour.

For ex­am­ple, in 1995 we had the Greg Nor­man sig­na­ture edition of Holden’s States­man. Launched at the peak of Nor­man’s fame, this luxo­barge fea­tured not only sev­eral Nor­man badges but also a set of Royal St Ge­orge golf clubs in the boot. Peak ex­am­ples sold new for nearly $60,000 but four years ago a Queens­lan­der re­ported on­line that he’d picked one up for just $3000.

Re­mem­ber when run­ners first be­came a big deal? In 1990, Nis­san cashed in on jog­ging chic with the $16,000 hatch­back Pul­sar Reebok.

In 1992 I was af­ter test cars. Holden’s help­ful PR per­son had a just-re­leased Ba­rina Sports­girl, coated in mul­ti­coloured Sports­girl graph­ics. Of­fer po­litely de­clined.

The Carla Zam­patti sig­na­ture Ford Lasers were such a sales suc­cess in 1985 that other Zam­patti Fords fol­lowed. Some are still with us, as an on­line tes­ta­ment last month in­di­cates: ‘‘ Ba­si­cally got this for $600 and re­placed the bat­tery, did a ser­vice and tune and have a re­li­able lit­tle car.’’ Viva Carla.

So where are the cur­rent trend cars? Surely at least one man­u­fac­turer could de­liver some sub­ver­sive cool with a Ju­lian As­sange stealth edition.

Or some­thing with Twit­ter trade­marks, or an ap­pro­pri­ately fem­i­nine ur­ban run­about in Fifty Shades of Grey?

Un­til car mak­ers re­turn to trend mar­ket­ing, they’ll continue los­ing sales to a brand that for decades has prof­ited from life­style iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. VWjust can’t help shift­ing record num­bers of Golfs.

GREEN HELL GREEN­ING

GER­MANY’S ter­ri­fy­ing tree­lined Nur­bur­gring race track, nick­named the ‘‘ green hell’’ by ex-F1 cham­pion Jackie Ste­wart, is pop­u­lar for high­per­for­mance road car test­ing.

Most man­u­fac­tur­ers turn up with ever-larger and more pow­er­ful mod­els, but Ford re­cently took the op­po­site ap­proach. Blue oval en­gi­neers bolted a 1.0 litre three-cylin­der turbo EcoBoost engine to a slim-framed open-wheeler and let the de­vice loose on the green hell’s 174 curves.

The re­sult: a seven-minute, 22-sec­ond lap— faster, says Ford PR, than any­thing achieved by a Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor, Fer­rari Enzo or Pa­gani Zonda.

More im­pres­sively still, Ford’s one-off hell-beater was in road-le­gal trim.

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