The three seater sportscar! Where did it go? A lifetime of being dragged across France on holidays has firmly imprinted the Matra Murena in my memory as something completely desirable. Was having three seats in a row really that bad an idea for a mid/rear engined car?
I hold those same parents entirely responsible for my complete adoration of cars in a segment that is very hard to describe. In my mind I call them “Espadrille cars”. Off course the manufacturers of the main protagonists in the market niche: the Citroën Mehari and the Renault Rodeo are still very much alive but I’m not so sure about the Mega Tjaffer/ Ranch producer of more recent days.
Try saying this in your best Captain Bertorelli accent: “Aaaah, V12’s are for pussies! Real
men need a V16!”. This must be a close approximation of Giorgio Moroder’s thought process when he kicked off the Cizeta V16 project. And wasn’t he just a bit right? Don’t we all need a bit of V16 in our lives?
Final example: Innocenti Mini. Take a normal mini, get it restyled by Bertone and bring it to market with a brand 100 times cooler than British Leyland and jobs a good’un one would think. The fact that BL went bankrupt within a year of launch may prove otherwise but I take solace from the fact that De Tomaso kept the model alive until 1993.
Many of you may by now realise there are reasons why I’m not a huge big shot in the automotive industry. Off-course all of the above examples are seriously flawed in one way or another, no doubt aiding to some extent in the downfall of their manufacturers. But by Jove do I love them! And when I walked up that street yesterday and spotted that 9-3 Viggen, I knew full well this was far from a perfect car. My heart still jumped though and for that moment there was no other car in the world that I wanted more. Goodbye Saab.