Working as I do for the Italian licensees of Prestolite, and having a house inside the factory premises, in a town where parking is more suited to 500 Fiats, and yet needing a bigger car for occasional business trips, or now and then back to England, created a problem which could only be solved by using two cars. My wife has a Fiat, which we use locally, and I decided to “buy British”. After the Geneva show I narrowed my choice down to four models—the 3-litre Ford Capri, Gilbern Invader, Jaguar “E”-type 2 + 2 and Trident Clipper.
We read here that the British Motor Industry is having a bad time and various excuses are made. Industrial disputes are usually blamed, yet here in Italy we have had so many this last year that next year we are considering having them printed in diaries (they are announced months in advance) together with public holidays. Another popular reason is the heavy tax on the motorist, yet here the Road Fund Tax for a 7-litre car is £250 sterling. It would, I’m sure, be superfluous to mention that we pay the highest price of any country in Europe for petrol, and that our autostrade are not cheap to use. Had the real reason been one of these two, the Italian Motor Industry would never have survived.
I think I found the real reason in the replies to my letters to the four company sales outlets concerned—apathy and bad service from the big manufacturers! Any request to Fiat in Torino is instantly attended to, and this is a country where instant service is not expected. Ford Motor Company sent me a leaflet on the car which explained the difference between GTXL and GTXLR, but didn’t mention the price, a Government leaflet on how to export a car privately, but then said that Ford of Italy would be in contact with me. Please, Mr. Gillen, how long am I expected to wait?
Jaguar (please note, Lord Stokes) sent me no information which I had requested—just a curt letter saying that the importers would be in touch with me—and indicated that there was a faint possibility that I might be allowed to buy one. Still no news on that score, either.
The Ace Motor Company—London distributors for Gilbern—and the Trident Car Company were both extremely helpful. After long deliberation we decided to go for the Trident, and I planned to go over for the Show and place an order; however, when the President of the company heard what we proposed to do he went out and bought a Thunderbird and gave it to us as a gift. It doesn’t handle like would have expected the others to, but the comfort compensates in some measure.
Our only real regret is that we were not able to compensate Trident and Ace for their courtesy, but hope that in some small measure this letter will.