GAMES FINALE SALUTES CAR CULTURE
PistonHeads unwraps the story behind the closing ceremony's four-wheeled stars
One of the stars in terms of airtime was the Ford Corsair convertible belonging to Rob Shand, spotted near Madness’s lorry bed stage. He has an explanation for all coverage – a Corsair nut, he had THREE of the rare Crayford conversions in the stadium last night.
Needless to say, Shand, director of a specialist plastering firm, had a blast driving around the stadium. “80,000 people, all clapping cheering - phenomenal. It was a lot of effort for the few minutes we were in there, but it was great.”
He reckons it took 100 hours of rehearsal in a disused part of the Ford factory in Dagenham to get it right.
So strict were the advertising rules that all cars had to have their badges masked, even the Corsair. Patently ridiculous, given that car’s silhouette is the biggest giveaway, but the brand mix meant that there was a consolation prize for British athletics sponsor Alfa Romeo, whose MiTo was spotted running about.
Rolls Royce got around the no-badge rule in elegant, extravagant fashion. It supplied three Phantom Drophead Coupes, from which singers Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz emerged, but in place of the standard RR badge at the front, a special London 2012 version was created. Rolls says this the first ever time one of its cars has sported a different badge.
Aside from the BMW Group models in the closing ceremony, the cars were privately owned with drivers mostly joining in via word of mouth. The Corsairs were different – the owners’ club was contacted directly earlier this year. Even the club’s website editor Paul Watts was bemused. “I first thought it was a scam, it was so bizarre. I mean, I love Corsairs, but they’re not widely known.” He was told it was because of the Ford Dagenham connection but, as he says, the Mk1 Cortina based cars were mostly made in Halewood, Merseyside.
Confusion aside, last night’s celebration of Britain’s love of cars, even the random ones, was another triumph for this Olympics. Even worth enduring a new George Michael song for.