Publicity And The Motor Car

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Sir,
In the highly competitive state of world markets it is interesting to compare the information provided in literature supplied by two different car manufacturers — one British and one Continental — concerning their respective products.

I recently wrote to the Export Division of a British manufacturer asking for details of their new 1 1/2-litre (basic price £645) as I was considering purchasing this model. In reply they forwarded a small folder consisting of a few flattering impressionistic pictures and a “specification.” This latter occupies a mere one-eighth part of the folder space and is in such general terms as to leave one completely in the dark regarding the possible performance of the car. No mention is made of gear ratios, steering ratios, speed in top gear at 1,000 r.p.m., or turning circle. The specification does not include the b.h.p. developed — nor is any mention made of the car’s weight. A similar request to the Volkswagen firm in Western Germany (where I am at present living) for details of their 1954 model, brought a wealth of excellent reading material, including a beautifully illustrated book which in itself is a work of art. Not only is the specification set out in the greatest detail, but factual information is given of the car’s performance showing maximum and cruising speeds (the same in the case of the Volkswagen — 68 m.p.h.!) and its hill-climbing ability in gears. Even fuel consumption figures are given with what appears to be scientific exactitude. The book tells one everything. Nothing whatever is left to the imagination.

Now the British manufacturers cannot arrange a demonstration here for the very good reason that they have not a demonstration car available in Germany. As it is a new model one can understand this. But an order form was enclosed, so presumably they expect one to order their car on the basis of the information contained in their little folder. Do they really believe prospective customers are prepared to part company with their money so readily? No doubt in due course all the figures a prospective purchaser requires will be published in a road-test report by the motoring press — but by that time he has probably purchased a Volkswagen!
I am, Yours, etc.,
L. A. Lambourn, (Major),
B.A.O.R. II.