NZV8 - - BENCH SEAT - Con­nal con­nal@v8.co.nz

Todd and I are our own worst crit­ics when it comes to this game of pages we play ev­ery month. We kinda have to be, be­cause it’s the only way to keep our­selves honest — not just in what we’ve got­ten right, but in what we con­sider to be f**k ups or things to fix. If ev­ery is­sue was a pat-our­selve­son-the-back-and-say-ev­ery­thing’s-hunky-dory ses­sion, we’d be on the fast track to obliv­ion. The quest for per­fec­tion is a fu­tile one, one that will never be achieved, but the best we can do is try. So, as I write this — yet again a few hours be­fore this is­sue’s print dead­line — I can quite hon­estly say that this is the first is­sue we’ve pro­duced in a while where I am thor­oughly pleased with the qual­ity of the con­tent we’ve man­aged to cob­ble to­gether. The last few months have been a mas­sive learn­ing curve for us both, with Todd now be­ing sta­tioned per­ma­nently in Welling­ton, as most of you will know. It’s been ex­tremely hard on the team, es­pe­cially Mark, our long-suf­fer­ing de­signer who has ended up slap­ping the whole thing to­gether in just a week, sin­gle hand­edly. But I think we’ve fi­nally found the groove that we need to be in to pro­duce mag­a­zines at the level we ex­pect, and that you, the reader, de­serve. We’re plan­ning pretty far ahead, and I’m re­ally ex­cited to see some of the cars and features that we have in the works come to fruition. One of those cars is the one we’re plan­ning for next is­sue’s cover, and it’s one I’ve been su­per barred up about since first catch­ing wind about it. Pow­ered by a very special mo­tor, the likes of which has never ap­peared in a fea­ture car while I’ve worked here, it’s also proudly Blue Oval, which acts as a not-so­sub­tle seg­way into … The end of Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ing. With Ford hav­ing wrapped things up around this time last year, and Holden fol­low­ing suit as we put this is­sue to­gether, it’s a bit of a dark day in the au­to­mo­tive scene down un­der. What­ever side of the fence you sit on — and it’s a fence that I un­der­stand, but have al­ways found slightly silly — there is no deny­ing that the ces­sa­tion of th­ese charis­matic ve­hi­cles in pur­suit of the big cor­po­rate cof­fers is a bit of a kick in the balls to the en­thu­si­asts, es­pe­cially those whose liveli­hoods will be af­fected. Sure, it may make eco­nomic sense, and in terms of con­sumer ex­pen­di­ture there is an un­de­ni­able trend of vot­ing with wal­lets and not hearts, but time will tell whether the new ‘global’ mod­els will pos­sess the same sense of charisma that so en­deared the Fal­cons and Com­modores to us. I sus­pect not, and that we’ve taken an ir­re­versible step to­wards the McDon­ald’s of the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try — the same in ev­ery coun­try, with a few sur­face-level tweaks to make their prod­ucts slightly rel­e­vant to their mar­ket. In South-East Asia, you get sweet chilli sauce rather than tomato sauce, but the Big Mac is still the same. It may be the wrong place for it, but I think Honda got it right with their ‘ The power of dreams’ slo­gan — are to­day’s kids go­ing to as­pire to own a hot­tedup Opel In­signia or Ford Mon­deo? I don’t know, but if I was a bet­ting man … I’ll leave you with that to mull over, and will see you next is­sue — I feel con­fi­dent in say­ing that it will be even bet­ter than this one!

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