My fascination of cars doesn’t stop just at the metal on the road but also the industry as a whole and the relationships between the different manufacturers. One of my favourites is the Volkswagen Group which encompasses a wide range of models from Skoda and Seat through to VW, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti. I mean what a range of cars! And all of which I would not be embarrassed to own and would enjoy the high quality (Seat are getting there I believe with the new Ibiza) which is a trademark of the group.
One of my all time favourite cars is the Lamborghini Gallardo which even the man himself (Clarkson) decided to own. A 5 Litre V10 engine with the build quality of an Audi with a body that makes it look like a proper super car. The only thing apart from the price that puts me off? I am told Lambos cost on average £30,000 per year just to keep it on the road! So what is the alternative well from the same group you can go upmarket to the awesome Bugatti Veyron or more realistically down to the Audi R8 which must be the most liveable super car since the Porsche 911. And coming next year is the R8 with the Lambo V10 engine which has also made an appearance in the Audi S8, S6 and RS6.
But my greatest appreciation of the VW brand is the ability to share parts and create a wide range of products. What it does is create parts that are high enough quality to use across the whole group which it can afford to do because so many cars use them. And then by clever use of aluminium and leather manages to add further ‘quality’ to them for the expensive applications. The result? One of the largest and most interesting car groups on the planet – Ford, GM and I bet even Toyota could only wish to have such an interesting range of cars. Probably only BMW gets close with Mini and Rolls Royce brands.
And this then starts another thought process. Why have the Germans been so successful in creating these car giants when Britian was unable to? Correct me if I am wrong but we won the last world war but it is the Germans and Japanese that have managed to make these industries work at a time when their economies and countries were destroyed. Was it due to the levels of investments into their countries following WW2 to rebuild or was something else at play? Germany currently has the largest economy in Europe actually export goods, and manage to have a vibrant manufacturing industry against China when the rest of Europe struggles.
When you have lost everything and build it from scratch you take risks and change the way you do things. Possibly this is what Britain needs to get it out of the rut it is currently in – at the moment we patch when a complete rebuild is what is needed. Wouldn’t it be great to be proud once more of British brands and that ‘Made in Britain’ actually means something.