KEEPING things light in what has been a horrible few days for MG Rover is quite a difficult task. I find the best plan of attack is simply to wait and see what happens… and change the subject.
As a kid, I used to love reading the ‘Observers’ Book of Automobiles’, the ‘International Car Catalogue’ and (if I went to the main reference library in Manchester) ‘World Cars’. The main reason was to feed my insatiable desire to learn as much as I could about our fascinating industry and the cars produced by it. And in the days before Google and Autoindex (probably the best automotive website in the world), this was the only way to find out about the wierd and wonderful cars you could buy in the less developed parts of the world.
You know the sort of car I mean – European and Japanese cast-offs produced by start-up companies where the clientele was rather less fussy than they are here in sophisticated Europe. So, in Turkey, you got the Tofas – in China there was the Hongkhi – in Brazil, the Dodge Polara. These were cars that your first reaction was to cringe when you saw them… followed by the obvious question: ‘why?’
One of my favourite automotive cast-offs has always been the Iranian Peykan. Built by Iran Khodro, this Hillman Hunter clone has been an Iranian mainstay since the late sixties, and it succinctly summed up what it was about second world nation cars that intrigued me. After all, the Hunter – nice as it was – was never going to set the world on fire, and yet – here we are – in 2005, and it is still for sale…
Except now, it’s doomed thanks to the modernization of the motor industry – and the onset of the Renault-Dacia Logan. As of the end of April, the Paykan will no longer be built – it also means that Iranian motoring wits will have to think of another car to make jokes about.
Should we rejoice the fact we have one less motoring dinosaur being built? Objectively yes. But at the same time, I can’t help but think, that yet another interesting pocket of our industry has been taken away from us.
So, join me in taking a minute’s silence for the Paykan. RIP.