I would like to express my thanks in echoing the sentiments of the "dedicated few." ("The auto industry needs its distinctive, miniature brands," May 19 issue.) I was once one of those enthusiasts who gave 17 hours a day, six days a week, to try and save/launch the sadly now defunct Jensen SV8. Unfortunately I "sold out" and now work in the USA, within all of the Big 3.
The problem I discovered working at the sub-niche end of the market was not the lack of will or enthusiasm, not the lack of suppliers willing to supply small quantities at the right price, or indeed high-technology electronics (I actually got a fully automatic air con control/switch panel with more features and less cost than the Aston Marton DB7). It was the expectations of financial organizations who - if you could actually get them interested - would expect growth beyond the realms of avarice.
Take Jensen, for instance. Good name, sound concept vehicle (I know, I built it), willing buyers, funding ... it needed about £5 million to make it work. We got £2 million or thereabouts. Did we know we only had £2 million? Not until the end, when all of the five major engineering team members were funding the prototype build units with our own credit cards!
So would I do a Jensen type program again? Without hesitation. Is a fully homologation-ready, greenfield-site car company executable for under £10 million? Without a shadow of a doubt. Can you achieve a return on investment of 26 percent or greater with a car company? Never.
So until investors join the band of the dedicated few, the re-emergence of historic brands will be left to passionate multi-millionaires, and hopeful lottery players with a dream.