“Almost in the same breath Holden saw fit to force the VL Turbo to share the showroom with the repulsive Piazza”

Skid marks

David Morley

KNOW I’ve mentioned this before, but it still amazes me that some people will blindly continue down a particular consumer path regardless of the warning signs. I speak, of course, about those who wear misguided brand loyalty as a badge of honour. The example I used last time was that of a colleague of mine who continued to buy Saabs, long after the product had become a sick parody of itself and a cruel joke on those stupid enough to swap otherwise useful cash for it.

There are two possible explanations for this sort of behaviour.

The first is that Old Mate was simply too dim and unimaginative to think beyond the little box he had assembled to keep his brain in (probably an IKEA box called ‘Feltj’). The second is that he was busy living out some kind of Swedish fantasy. Now, I’ve nothing against Swedish fantasies. But if I was to develop one, I’m pretty certain it would involve the blonde dame from ABBA, a hose-out hotel room and a 44-gallon drum of moose fat.

Possibly the brunette, too. It would almost certainly not involve some tarted up Vauxhall Vectra with a Saab badge stuck on with chewing gum.

However, just as this sort of behaviour is ripe for a kicking, it should also make us examine our own views on a particular subject. And, on the subject of brand loyalty, I freely admit that I possess no such thing. But why would that be? Why wouldn’t I have attached myself to a particular tribe at some stage and then stuck with it through thick and thin? Again, two answers keep presenting themselves. (A), I’m not, despite the views of a dozen ex-girlfriends, a moron. Incapable of putting the lid back on the milk bottle, yes.

But an actual, clinically diagnosed I moron, no. And (b), I can’t forget some of the hilarious highs and lows committed by various car companies over the three decades I’ve been doing this stuff.

Now, any company can get it right and wrong along a particular timeline. I mean, in the 1990s, you had Ferraris that would fly apart like a steak sandwich sitting on an airbag (you’ve seen the online videos, of course). But that same company then came back and gave us the fabulous 488, which not only survived PCOTY 2016, it also survived the Bathurst 12-Hour with a bunch of Supercar drivers trying to kill it for the full half day in 30-plus ambient. In fact, the Fazza not only survived, it won the damn race. I know, ’cos I was there.

Nope, any company can get it right then wrong like that. But what really is amazing is the way some mobs can get it right and wrong concurrently. Consider that wonderful year, 1986. I had just moved to Melbourne and had my first gig as a motoring scribbler. All full of hope and brand loyalty, I was. And then Holden gave us the marvellous VL Turbo which proved that unleaded could be a performance fuel and re-wrote the book on six-cylinder performance. But almost in the same breath (certainly the same year) Holden saw fit to force the VL Turbo to share showroom space with the entirely repulsive little Piazza.

A weird-burger little Isuzu with an underdone turbo engine and a wonky chassis, the Piazza was a Gemini that won Tatts; a true turd rolled in glitter. And – you couldn’t make this up - it was also $9000 more expensive than a VL Executive Turbo. Yet, here was Holden, telling us all how both were wonderful cars and deserving of our hard-earned.

And you wonder why I’m a bit cynical these days. M