Blog: Simon Warburton"Fire up the Quattro"

Simon Warburton | 26 May 2010

DCI Hunt

DCI Hunt's legendary Quattro has done Audi no harm

There's been quite a hit on UK television for the past few years and although it's now sadly faded from our screens, it could well translate across the European ether and who knows, further afield.

Starting with the 1970s-based Life on Mars and proceeding a decade later to Ashes to Ashes, the series has created one of the small screen's most truly memorable characters in the guise of Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt, aka Philip Glenister.

It's fair to say DCI Hunt adopts a somewhat er, liberal approach to policing that was rather popular in the UK around 40 years ago, but what he undoubtedly loves is his motors.

Another iconic British cop series - The Professionals - had its two main heroes roaring around in a Ford Capri - and often as not rolling across its vast bonnet in pursuit of villains - but Hunt preferred the more prosaic brands of the old Cortina and Audi.

The first series had him patrolling the mean streets of Manchester in a Cortina Mark III - with a vinyl roof if you please - but it is the second series' wheels for which he will be most remembered.

Step forward the now-legendary blood-red Audi Quattro and take a well-deserved bow. Hunt's familiar command - barked at regular intervals of "Fire up the Quattro" - became such a catchphrase it even entered British political lexicography in the recent general election.

The Labour Party ran a poster picturing Conservative leader David Cameron perched on the fiery red Audi with the slogan: "Don't let him take Britain back to the 1980s."

But some clever marketing chaps at Conservative HQ tapped into the wave of popularity surrounding Ashes to Ashes and trumped their opponents with the riposte: "Fire up the Quattro, it's time for change."

It's done Audi no harm either, particularity given the fun Glenister clearly had driving the four-wheel drive model.

This from the actor: "The camera stuck to the windshield also meant I couldn't see anything out the front and the heavy equipment combined with actors, who had spent five and a half months eating location food and syrup sponge, left the poor old Quattro scratching along the floor.

"I always enjoy the driving stuff though, especially throwing around a car which isn't my own."

And the "throwing the car around" scenes were invariably accompanied by a thumping 80s soundtrack, which I have to confess is the era I remember most from my formative years, although I had a Triumph Dolomite rather than a Quattro.

The BBC may have decided to go out on a high by stopping the series whilst at its peak, but the memory of DCI Hunt's Quattro roaring/screeching/hand-brake turning will live on for a while yet.

Click here for more Quattro trivia from the BBC


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