Danish market

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Sir,

I was interested to read M. R. Carroll’s letter in your January issue, in which he informed your (presumably sympathetic) readers that our Teutonic friends have to part with £6,300 for an Xi 12 Jaguar. I therefore feel bound to ask your readers to direct their sympathies to chubby little over-taxed Denmark instead. In our country an XJ 12 costs kr. 190,000, being the equivalent of £13,500 (yes, thirteen thousand five hundred). Did somebody stifle a tear?

As you will understand, somebody in this country is making a tidy little profit—and I do not refer to the taxpayers. This purchase-tax revenue is, incidentally, supposed to be put into a road-building scheme, but I must admit that there is far more scheming than road-building. To be fair, though, most of our main roads are not bad at all. They are just dangerous.

It was also of interest to read the many letters about troublesome Triumphs. Without wishing to add insult to injury, I might add that Triumphs don’t have a particularly good name in Denmark either. I think the Herald probably did more than anything else to ruin the name. The Spitfire, which was the lowest priced “sports” car on our market, was also the best seller, thanks to the fact that the young people who bought it valued its looks more than they valued their lives.

To return to the point I had intended to make, although you have probably heard it before, British cars as a whole do not enjoy a good reputation. The majority of them are disastrously poorly finished, they are inclined to have petty mechanical faults, and these tend to be expensive to rectify. I loathe to compare them with their Teutonic counterparts, the majority of which I find intensely unexciting, but these latter are at least reliable and well-finished. This means a lot when one is paying for two cars when buying one. These remarks do not apply to Jaguars, Rovers and the like but, as mentioned, these have such astronomical price-tags that they are the exception rather than the rule. Nothing would delight me more than to see price-comparable British cars taking over the Beetle’s role in Denmark, but you have a discouraging long way to go!

What do I drive? A British car, of course. And it never gives me any trouble. Nor does it rust. And you may well ask, what manner of car is this? A 40-year-old 3½-litre Bentley with Park Ward aluminium body . . .

My wife, however, is another proposition. With all due respect she is unable to cope with the Bentley, and with even more respect she needs a virtually indestructible vehicle. She therefore poodles around in a 12-year-old Peugeot 404 with well over 100,000 miles on the clock. It is apparently perfectly content to have its gears crashed, to pull up hills in top gear, and in general to be manhandled by an otherwise lovable female whose only fault is her lack of knack with things mechanical. When we happen to remember it, we change its few litres of black gold and shoot in a blob of grease here and there. It starts on the touch every morning, has a very modest thirst, still returns 90 m.p.h. (prelimit days), still has no rattles or squeaks, and what’s left of the bodywork still has quite attractive lines. (We do use an awful lot of salt on our roads in winter.)

Would you like a few more prices to finish up with? Mini 850, £1,400; Beetle 1200, £1,700; Volvo 142, £3,400; Rover 3500, £6,000; Mercedes 280, £9,000; Triumph TR6(!), £4,500; Rolls-Royce Corniche, £47,000 (forty-seven thousand pounds). Like to live here?

Birkerod, Denmark G. M. Segal