Thursday, 15 April 2010

What would a 21st century Gene Hunt drive?

No, this isn't a post about books, and it isn't really a post about the crime fiction of "Ashes to Ashes" either.

Recently the Labour Party portrayed David Cameron as Gene Hunt, posed on the bonnet of an Audi Quattro, imploring the jaded electorate not to let him bring back the 1980s. Personally I like to think the 1980s weren't bad, but leaving pointless UK electoral politics aside, it has raised the question about what a latter day Gene Hunt would drive were he with us now?

Looking at his previous car choices, a Ford Capri in "Life on Mars" followed by the Quattro, there's a distinct track record to live up to.

The basic criteria drawn from the Ford Capri and Audi Quattro are

  • it should have sporting credentials (Capris in 1970s German sportscars, think lairy Zakspeed turbo cars, and the Quattro as a rally icon)
  • it should be reasonably rapid
  • it should be affordable - but only just about
  • It should be somewhat 'hairy chested'

With the sporting pedigree this is difficult. Back in the 1980s there were some reasonably upmarket cars doing rallying (e.g. Lancia Stratos and Beta Montecarlo) as well as the more common or garden Fords and Fiats, now it's pretty much the exclusive preserve of the 'cheaper' cars e.g. Ford Focus / Citroen C4. The only real contender from this area might be something like a Subaru Impreza. Circuit racing doesn't really offer us much these days, today's motorsport is all about either dedicated racing machinery (Formula 1, Le Mans type machinery, supercars like Ferraris) or actually quite common or garden fodder you'll see in British Touring Cars. Personally I can't really see Gene Hunt in a Chevrolet Cruze or Seat Leon.

Reasonably quick gives us lots of options, most of which are ruled out by other criteria. So, Ferraris are quick, but too expensive, a Ford Focus ST is quick, but a bit too downmarket. The important thing here is it should be comfortably faster than the stock editions of common of garden police cars, making it justifiable for a Hunt character to eschew the police car, and take the Quattro replacement instead.

With affordability, a lot of the fast cars are perhaps too cheap for this criteria. Here we're looking for something along the lines of affordable exclusivity, so we're not talking hot hatch like Ford Focus ST or Audi S3. It also can't be that mass market, so a BMW M3 might sound like a contender, but somehow I just don't see it working. Equally you might just be able to see him with a Porsche Boxster, but I'm not sure it's quite 'hairy chested' enough. I would imagine the cost should be somewhere in the £25-50k mark.

Hairy chested. This means it has to have a bit of a 'mean' edge to it. So, it probably has to be rear wheel drive, have a bigger engine than is perhaps strictly necessary, and a mild belief that when a passenger is in it there's a real risk of dying. This rules out a few cars like the Audi TT, which otherwise might have a claim to being the spiritual successor to the Quattro. Indeed I can just hear Philip Glenister sneering at something he would undoubtedly denounce as a 'hairdressers car'.

Based on that my quick scribblings came up with the following contenders

  • Subaru Impreza - with gold wheels etc, obviously
  • Nissan 350Z - possibly chavved up
  • Audi S5 - with a silly V8 engine

Office banter added to this the Vauxhall VX220 and the Chrysler Crossfire, neither of which I'm entirely convinced by, but at least display a bit of thought.

Any advances?

I've always been quite deeply skeptical about the whole concept of memes, and I worry that this post could teeter dangerously on the brink of being one, but hey, why not live dangerously? I didn't get the point of blogging until I tried it, maybe meme like things are exactly the same.

Just for the record, I drive a Toyota Prius, but aspire to a Porsche Cayman.

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