Comparisons people keep making between the end of Covid and the end of the last world war make me wonder whether we can expect another tranche of exceptional consumer products as happened back then. Cars like the Mini and Jaguar E-Type were direct results of the optimism that followed the crisis. I keep recalling the immortal comment of Mini suspension pioneer Dr Alex Moulton when I asked him how this miraculous car came to be. “We’d just won the war,” said Moulton. “We could do anything…”
Do you follow Twitter? Don’t miss the unique posts of Conor Twomey (@conorjtwomey), a local car industry man who’s also what I’d term a ‘car revivalist’. The word ‘restorer’ isn’t right for Conor since it implies someone putting years into rebuilding a Morris Minor.
Conor takes on fairly modern (thus complex) cars and posts short, homespun videos as he goes, His latest is a £500 1991 Lotus Elan Turbo SE. He’s very particular about what he tackles, mind: cars must be interesting, dirt cheap, on their last legs but not rotten. Which leaves a world of 1990s prospects.
Part of the Lotus fun has been Conor’s discovery of successive levels of bodgery and his uniquely Irish way of describing it. The Lotus interior “smelled like a corpse”; cheap tyres were dismissed as “ditch-finders”. The Elan has reached MOT stage and 3000 of us car voyeurs are desperate for a pass. Also to know what Conor will do next. “I need a rest,” he protests, but we know better. He said the same after the two Fiat 500s, the Cinquecento Sporting, the Seicento Sporting, the Peugeot 206, the Hyundai Coupé and the 2005 Mini.
And another thing…
Two cars at my place – a Smart Fortwo and a Honda E – have opened my eyes to what a huge but little-celebrated advantage it is to have an ultra-tight turning circle. Fun, too. Both cars can pull a full 360 in my (none too generous) driveway.
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