Blog: Brum day out
Dave Leggett | 26 May 2004
Press day at Birmingham yesterday was undeniably a fun day out and there were plenty of people for me to bump into and chew the cud with, although there was a general consensus that the day lacked a bit of buzz – the sort of buzz that comes with major model debuts and Big Wig press conferences.
On the upside, there wasn’t any great pressure to be anywhere at a particular time, so I was able to roam around pretty freely and get close to the cars and people on duty at the stands. One production car that impressed was the SEAT Altea mini-MPV (actually more car-like and sporty than most in the segment and not quite as tall as, say, a Renault Scenic). Myself and Ollie had a good chat with a product-planning guy about the strategy behind the model. Mind you, we caused quite a stir when we asked about the sunglasses case on the driver-side grab handle, described as a feature. No-one could find it on any of the display models although the SEAT team said that it did really exist, honest. As usual, the SEAT Paella was very good.
The key to the Birmingham show’s success or otherwise will be the number of punters who actually pay to go along over the next few weeks. I reckon there could be quite a few and if the manufacturers feel that they have generated plenty of media interest too, they’ll be back in two years’ time. But the press day did seem a little bit flat - at least compared to the press days at the major shows.
Any stands to write home about? Ford had a big Thunderbirds thing going on. I managed to miss the staged shows on the stand, but the set looked pretty impressive and it looked like Ford had spent the most money, by a country mile. Renault probably got the prize for biggest embarrassment, making a big play of the Modus world premiere – just a pity that the car actually got an outing in Madrid last week. Nice little car though.
We felt sorry for some of the girls manning the stands – they had to do a lot of standing and we noticed that some of the footwear wasn’t exactly conducive to foot comfort. One young lady on stand duty got very excited towards the end of the day when we insisted that she sit in an Audi A6. The pleasure on her face when she took the weight off her feet was definitely one of the highlights of the day.
Some images from the day are reproduced below. Enjoying a refreshing glass of Staropramen pilsner on the Skoda stand are Joe Walker, Ollie and Dennis ‘silver surfer’ Foy. (Among other things, Dennis authored a just-auto members' management briefing on telematics for us last year.) There are also shots of the seriously spot-hitting SEAT paella, a young lady striking a delightful pose at the wheel of a Lotus and the Thunderbirds’ Tracey Island set at the Ford stand.
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