THE word from my colleagues who’ve all been set to go to Longbridge this week, to supposedly drive the TF had me casting my mind back to Fawlty Towers episode, Gourmet Night. You might remember it – poor old Basil had been let down by his drunk and disorderly chef on his first Gourmet night. With his rage rising, and failing to keep the chef problem from his overbearing wife, Cybil, he finally cracks. ‘Perhaps it’s a dream,’ he says pathetically – then he bangs his head on the reception desk – hard – looks at her, pauses for a second, then says, ‘…no, we’re stuck with it.’
That fateful call from a colleage evoked the same response from me. You see, this week was to see journalists go to Longbridge and finally drive the TF. It’s been a long time since the LE 500 was announced to the world’s media, and the collective faith of the baying pack of motoring rotters has been hanging by a gossamer thread. I’d been scheduled to go there this week, too, but started to smell a rat on Monday morning, when overworked PR manager, Eleanor De La Haye told me that a meeting needed to take place to decide when I’d get a go in the press car – and that the mechanics from the press garage were actually all on holiday. Breathtaking timing that considering that we’re talking about press launch week.
The TF won’t be available to drive, after all, and the magazine embargo had been moved back from the 4th August to the 26th…
Mid Tuesday morning, I heard the ‘stuck with it’ call. The TF won’t be available to drive, after all, and the magazine embargo had been moved back from the 4th August to the 26th. Meaning the monthlies will now have to wait until their October issues to get the TF drive story into print. The car could be photographed but not driven, and that took some persuasion. Now, to me, this has been a bit of a nightmare – most of the British press will be happy to bury the TF and its maker for good, and thanks to another PR blunder, far worse than anything from the old days, the likelihood of getting positive press has all-but vanished.
But if we’re to believe the story coming from MG dealers, perhaps the magazines don’t need to drive the car at all – interest has been immense and a serious number of deposits have been taken. I’d love to believe that – so if you’re an MG dealer and have taken deposits, please get in touch.
So, will the TF be driven in a couple of weeks’ time? I’ll let you know.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.