Motor Show Hookers

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
motor show hookers

Why do car manufacturers still feel compelled to drape female flesh over their show cars? If I wanted to ogle underfed women with thousand yard stares, I'd go to Harvey Nichols, not the British Motor Show. Not only does the practice fly in the face of one hundred years of women's liberation, it detracts from the cars. Like most male enthusiasts, I find a close encounter with a well-formed motorcar exciting enough. It's difficult to focus on the true object of my affections when confronted by a scantily clad girl trying to look friendly without encouraging actual intercourse.

I'm sure the sexual intimidation is intentional. Everyone is well aware that Motor Show babes know less about cars than a Congolese banana grower. An army of midriffs, breasts and legs protects the PR Flacks from punters' probing questions about new gear ratios and the wisdom of clear indicator lenses. The girls also provide notoriously competitive (and male dominated) car manufacturers with yet another arena for establishing bragging rights. To wit: "Did you see the Nissan stand? Lousy cars, great tits."

Despite the gradual infiltration of women into the auto industry, despite a growing respect for female customers, motor shows remain resolutely unreconstructed. If anything, the totty factor is getting worse. Only the smallest makers, such as Noble Moy Automotive and Lotus, offered breast free zones for their car-mad customers. Some, like Peugeot, have toned down and themed their car babes' outfits. Others, like Volkswagen, try to disguise the inherent sexism by dressing their women in executive mufti and placing them behind bunker-like reception desks.

Sorry. No matter how posh the fabric, no matter how subtle the non-product placement, motor show hotties remain sexist window dressing.

The big players have recently raised the game, showcasing celebrity squeeze. From a marketing point of view, the logic is as daft as it is inescapable. Rover's Atomic Kitten photo op was supposed to create a subconscious link between their cars and the nuclear felines' poptasticness. The epileptic explosion of flash photography greeting the girls actually proved little more than one good whore deserves another. It was almost as bizarre as Ford using Kylie Minogue– a singer appealing to 12-year-olds, gays and ass-oriented middle-aged lechers– to glamorise its thoroughly dated and ungainly city car.

You could almost forgive Rover and Ford for their crass exploitation of the female form. The former sells downmarket motors redesigned for boy racers, and the latter currently carries more debt than Paraguay. But Audi? You wouldn't expect carmakers that sell interiors so dour they make funeral homes look cheerful to send show-goers an automotive mammogram.

And yet, there it was: British singer Jay Kay sitting on an A8 next to "top society model" Lisa Butcher. While Mr. Kay's well-known love of Ferraris and Lamborghinis may lend Audi's latest luxo-barge a bit of much-needed performance cred, Ms. Butcher's low-cut and kinky leather ensemble naturally lead the imagination towards the rear seats. Let's face it: once you're going down that road, you might as well rent a proper limo. Unless you like to mix plastic with aluminium, buying an A8 would be a needless extravagance.

The car stand slut thing indicates just how stale motor shows have become. Once upon a time, before television, car magazine proliferation and the Internet; car shows delivered real suspense. These days, enthusiasts have seen all the new models from every conceivable angle, and in motion, long before they fork over their inflated entry fee. The only thrill left is seeing a cherished model "in the flesh"– a buzz only true diehards can savour.

Ferrari's contribution to the British Motor Show exemplified this new reality, albeit inadvertently. Their cost-saving stand showcased a spinning black Enzo. The car was perfectly lit, raised and tilted for maximum visual access. And that's it. No brochures. No girls. Niente. Short of surrendering the keys, it was all a car nut could ask for. Even so, given the size of the NEC and the scale of the motor show experience, less is not enough.

It's depressing that the industry has failed to rise to the challenge of reinventing the car show genre. The Dolly Birds are a symbol of the rot. By continuing to rely on tits and ass to attract customers to their stands, manufacturers show a staggering lack of imagination. The skimpy, skin-tight girls are a cheap and mock cheerful way to avoid having to do anything innovative with the actual product or its presentation.

There are a few encouraging signs of life. MINI staged an impressive display of automotive stuntery that kept the focus firmly on their product's agility. But it remains to be seen whether manufacturers and show organisers will re-invent the entire genre to avoid its extinction. Forums? VR? HDTV? One thing is for sure. Unless teenage boys are the car show's future, it's time to send the car geishas packing.

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  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.
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