Saturday, 2 April 2011

Back In The Saddle

Will Riley and his second attempt to recreate the MG SV

It has been far, far too long since I wrote anything for From The Captain's Chair. And I'm sorry about that. Because I have this page pinned to my menu bar in Firefox, it stands proud whenever I open my web browser, looking at me and asking "Am I not good enough?" "Have you lost interest?" "Don't you love me any more?" - and making me feel guilty as hell in the process. I've considered unpinning it from Firefox, but that would only be hiding what gnaws away in my head.

I owe the website, and myself, a damn good reason. And I have one - the second year of a BA in Politics leaves one surprisingly little in the way of free time, especially in it's latter months. In focusing upon education I've lost sight of my passion, and it's not good enough. A balance has to be made.

So now I'm back - however briefly before the next essay, the next exam, the next article tearing me from this screen - I may as well talk cars. Tempted as I am to discuss the MG6, I shall be deferring such joys for the foreseeable future. I am in the middle of lining up a test drive, and it would be unfair to review it before I have done so. The bankruptcy of Bristol Cars would be tempting but that's rather old news now. I think the most interesting story of the last week is the news that Will Riley, descendant of the founder of Riley Cars, is again trying to relaunch the MG SV.

Last time, the name posed an issue. MG X-Power was deemed to be too close to the original MG name, which the Chinese are using themselves. He does not have the rights to the riley name - to the best of my recollection BMW retain that title. So he's delved into the past and resurrected the secondary brand Riley launched in the 1930s for wildly upmarket salooon cars. Autovia.

My friend Robert Leitch is a tad hacked off by this. He's been writing an alternative history of British Leyland, which makes extensive use of the Autovia name. Riley has rather stolen the march on Robert's efforts; the latter lamenting his failure to register the Autovia trademark in his name. I personally don't think he has anything to fear; for I think the project is doomed to failure. Few wanted the SV when new, and any attempt to remarket the car will be seen as a cheap rebirth of a supercar generated a decade ago (Remember the Qvale Mangusta underpinnings). Honourable as it may seem to create another British car to beat the world, I personally think that this attempt will meet with much the same success as Will Riley's last.

Sorry, and all that.