Shed Of The Week


Wednesday 9th January 2013


The fight is on to create a generation of cars we can enjoy as future Sheds

Yes, this blog contains a picture of my Mazda. Yes, it will contain a degree of 'answer to everything' propaganda, though not exclusively MX-5 related. Disclaimer out of the way, let me begin.

Even a bust horn required professional help
Even a bust horn required professional help
Our journey starts with the press release for the new E-Class I was going through in preparation for a news story last week. And though it's perhaps unfair to single out Mercedes for this - they're all at it - that ridiculous line about some sort of 3D stereoscopic camera using complex algorithms to evaluate road signs, traffic, pedestrians and all the other stuff you might expect the driver to be looking out for made me think this tech-fest thing has finally jumped the shark. Another premium maker I was seeing recently was talking about forthcoming next-gen headlights that seek out and identify wildlife in the undergrowth. I kid you not.

Mocking this, of course, dooms me to an unpleasant vehicle/unseen livestock interface in the near future but these are the kind of sacrifices we have to make.

Anyway, I was pondering this as I tried, and failed, to fix the horn on the Mazda ahead of its MoT. Now, I'm no god with a spanner. But I'd have hoped being able to fix such a simple electronic component was within even my meagre mechanical repertoire. Nope.

This, with some Renaultsport cast-offs?
This, with some Renaultsport cast-offs?
What hope the Shedman 10 or 20 years hence, then, trying to bodge his stereoscopic pedestrian detection system to scrape his E-Class bargain barge through some heightened MoT test? Will such a thing as Sheds still exist or will or will junkyards fill with mechanically sound cars knobbled by some failed relay or sensor? The Mazda has taught me a few basic spannering lessons over the years and it's felt suitably empowering. That an electric component as simple as a horn meant taking it to a man doesn't bode well for aging tech-laden cars.

Unless it's a Dacia of course. Chris's drive in the Duster and the perhaps unexpected PH enthusiasm for the Ronseal approach to motoring of this and its Sandero brother offer a glimmer of hope. We need to convince Dacia to make a hot hatch. A very Dacia type of hot hatch. Having successfully reinvented the basic French cars of parent Renault's past there could be something in this.

Now if Dacia could do something like this...
Now if Dacia could do something like this...
So let the high tech new Renaultsport Clio play the mainstream and let's have a three-door Sandero, or something like it that brings Dacia back-to-basics affordability to the hot hatch genre. Dig out some old Renaultsport chassis bits from the 172/182. Pare it back like my old 172 Cup, whose lack of weight and general gubbins meant it'd do 40mpg on a cruise and scare the living bejeezus out of you were you to lift-off mid bend. Keep it so simple future generations of cash-strapped PHers can run it with little more than a socket set, have-a-go enthusiasm and skinned knuckles. Hell, even go for the steel wheels and grey plastic bumpers schtick of the tuner-ready GT86 they sell in Japan.

As luck would have it I'm attending an industry dinner later. At my table some top brass from Dacia. Wish me luck...




Author: Dan Trent