I didn’t want to further downhearten my UK readers suffering in the dismal autumn by referring to the speeches at the Tory Party Conference. Jeremy Hunt. Who invented him? Why?

Things are bad enough as it is without my rubbing salt in the wounds. I don’t want to be responsible for people hurling themselves from high places. Therefore, something a bit more whimsical.

Some interesting news on the dieting front. It seems as if it’s more difficult to lose weight now than it was in the 80s. People with the same calorific intake and exercise levels have a BMI about 2.3 higher than their counterparts in the days of big hair and power shoulderpads.

Nobody knows why this should be, but there’s a lot of blather about environmental factors, night time light exposure, genetics (odd that, since most of the people involved would have genes from parents whose heydays were in the age of the New Romantics), and the like.

This reminded me of the late Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars, whose motto was ‘Add lightness.’ He had a theory that all cars put on weight as they age, just as people tend to.

As an example, take the UK’s Ford Cortina. The Mk 1 was a very pretty, diminutive thing, even though you could get five adults in it.

MK 1 The Mark 2 had taken a few steroids, looked a bit more butch, but still included the wonderful 1600E in its model range. Bit of a Shelby look to the front end, I feel. Just to add to the fun, this guy looks as if he’s got a ticket, which given he’s blocking an entrance to an access road is all good.

1600E

When the Mark 3 came out, it had really started packing on the avoirdupois.Mark 3

Then the Mark 4/5 had clearly eaten all the pies, as you can see, and was about the size of a 1960s Zodiac.MK 4

The same thing is still evident now, but even more so. A modern BMW 3 Series has the heft of a 5 Series from the 80s. The 6 and 7 Series are bloody monsters. A Ford Focus estate is about the size of an early Mondeo, which later versions of have also been at the lard a bit. An Insignia, the Vauxhall rival to the Mondeo, is not a lot smaller than the Omega, which in the US was the entry level Cadillac Catera, so was a big old lump.

This may seem a bit academic, but it’s not, well not in the UK. Carpark designers haven’t been keeping up with events, and the size of parking bays is still determined by regulations drawn up in the 1990s. The result is that even your modest family saloon is likely to overhang the bay like a fat cat in a shoebox, and you’ll have to climb out of the sunroof because you can’t open the doors.

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