Face-lifts and Boob jobs by Gary Phillips

Don’t worry you’re not reading Hello or Ok! This article is very much about cars.  I’m won’t be preaching about botox and skin-peels, but updates, and relaunches.  As with surgery there are subtle procedures where it can be difficult to see the join, professional but obvious affairs where you can see the changes, but the results look good, and then finally the full on Frankenstein, trout pout disasters which can make the best looking person in the world, into a freakish side-show overnight.

The same applies to cars, a classic example of the subtle, hard to tell you’ve been under the knife job must be the second generation BMW Mini.  The spottiest of spotty faced anoraks would struggle to work out the difference between the two versions, even with the old and new models parked next to one and other.  So why spend all that time and effort making something new which no normal person can tell apart from the previous model? I’m sure a brand manager or someone from marketing could try to explain the logic, but I remain unconvinced by this approach.

The masters of this game must be Ford.  Every time a new Ford is launched you can’t help but get the feeling that at least two updates have been engineered into the original design.  Whether it’s a new grill and lights, or a nip and tuck to the rump, the results always seem to enhance the original  appearance, rather than degrade it.  But even Ford have got it horribly wrong, all I’m going to say is Scorpio…….

Then there’s the twin Frankenstein monsters of the Morris Marina and the Ital.  Not only did British Leyland re-skin the whole car, they changed the name as well.  I’m sure some people fell for the PR fluff and thought the Ital was a brand new car, not just a Marina in drag.  This must be one of the all time classic examples of making a pigs ear into another pig ear, genius.

Fiat also have previous and repeated form for transforming distinctive and interesting cars into corporate, shapeless and immediately forgettable lumps.  The original Multipla was certainly distinctive with its unusual headlamp placing and its unique stance due to its 3 x 3 seating layout.  Sure it was a Marmite car, you either loved it or hated it, but at least it was genuinely different.  No surprises that Fiat got cold feet and refreshed the bodywork by grafting on a bland generic Fiat snout.  It might have got rid of the double decker headlight arrangement but it couldn’t change the width of the car, resulting in a very strange looking, fat, and bloated motor.  To reinforce Fiats inability to update or refresh its cars, just look at the latest Evo Punto, and the Seicento.

The worst habit of all must be the fad for sticking lots of dark plasctic on the lower part of the body and declaring an innocent little hatchback some kind of Paris-Dakar off-roader.  A number of manufacturers are guilty of this crime, Rover with the Streetwise, the Volkswagen Dune and the Citroen C3 X-TR to name but a few.  Why?  It could be argued that this behaviour is worse than an update or facelift, this is premeditated plastic surgery of the worst kind.

Gary Phillips