Daily Archives: January 11, 2011

Cars And Masses

This is the Ford (Europa) Scorpio Mk II. This car is remarkable for being one of the ugliest cars ever made, and one of the least successful cars ever to be produced by a mass car producer like the giant Ford.

The genesis of such an opprobrium is very simply explained: at the time, Ford Europe was led by an American, and this chap insisted that the lagging, but not gravely unsatisfactory sales of the Scorpio Mk I could be improved by giving the Mark II a decidedly american flavour. This, he thought, would spark enthusiasm and be enthusiastically received by the European crowds, now yearning for something new and impressive. The result was what you see here and now that you have survived the first shock I can show you a photo of the back without running the risk of causing you a heart attack. Predictably, the car was massacred in the showroom and its failure became the epitome of automotive seppuku.

Why do I mention the unlucky and deservedly failed Scorpio Mk II? Because this ungainly car shows uncanny parallelisms to the Novus Ordo mass.

This car was not of particularly bad quality. Its underpinnings were those of the Scorpio Mk I, a car able do honestly do its job and sold in halfway decent numbers for many years. Neither was this car very expensive and in fact it gave its owners (in pure “Detroit metal” tradition) a lot of kilos for their hard-earned money. True, it never came with prestige attached, but neither were the first Scorpio or the later Opel Kadett /Omega or the older Ford Granada, all cars which always managed to sell in satisfactory numbers.

In short, this car was perfectly usable as a car. It was a car all right. You could never deny that it was a car. But it was such an ugly way to make a car, that most potential buyers decided to stay well away of every risk of being seen at its steering wheel.

In this case, the mess was such that the reputation of the house for making big cars was damaged in such a way – and the financial hurt from the car was so keenly felt – that since then Ford never again produced a car of comparable size and market position. Not only the name “scorpio” was irreparably destroyed, but the market for Ford was destroyed too. This tells you how many clients you lose if you abuse them by trying to give them things they don’t want, just because you think they’re hip and modern.

Now, I am not saying that the Novus Ordo doesn’t have sacramental validity. It certainly has. Like a Scorpio Mk II, it fulfils the function for which it is celebrated. But like the Scorpio Mk II, it does so in such an ugly way that I am all astonishment as to why people should insist in using such a mess, when they have the wonderful Mercedes 600 Pullmann available.

The latter is not the most modern of cars. It is, in fact, very old-fashioned. It doesn’t have all the thrills and frills usually employed to attract the superficial, and the gullible, nor does it try to cut corners and be cheap to purchase. It is authentic, unmistakeably valuable and almost painfully beautiful. Every bolt in it, every screw says “I am wonderful but not easy to understand and not ready to follow the fashion of the day. I will not try to please you. You will have to deserve me.” It is, in fact, a car that requires an effort, in the purchase and in the upkeep. It is the car for those who want it authentic and serious, rather than shallow and wanna-be.

Both cars fulfil their function. Both are authentic specimens of the genus. Both are valid examples of what you would call a car; both do what you expect from them.

But do yourself a favour: take the time to find and appreciate the Mercedes, even if this costs time and sacrifice both in the purchase and in the upkeep,  and ditch the Mondeo Mk II.

Believe me, once you have learned to know and appreciate this car, you’ll never look back.


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