Aston Martin is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the CC100 – but it’s not the first to do this…
Vicki's poshest car showrooms
My wedding dress is the most expensive bit of clothing I've ever bought and four years on it still scares me silly to think of its cost for just the one wear.
But I don't begrudge it too much because it looked wicked and I was treated like the proverbial princess from the moment I stepped into the dress shop. They made me feel unique which is a seriously tough call considering the hordes of brides-to-be doing exactly the same every day.
As pricey as the frock was, it's still a fraction of what we pay for a new car yet very few of us report a 'fantastic experience' when buying one. Despite handing over tens of thousands of pounds we're more often treated like one of the herd rather than a one-off and that's unacceptable - austere times or not.
When you cross the threshold of a car dealership you should feel as though you've turned up to a red carpet event where everyone will do everything in their power to make your day, from a welcoming smile to in-depth product knowledge. I'm not asking for sycophants, just some professionalism. It shouldn't matter who you are, what you look like or how big your budget, a bit of fluffing before you hand over the readies wouldn't go amiss, thank you very much.
UK dealers should take a trip to Paris to see how mainstream manufacturers sell their wares in showcase showrooms. Along one of the city's major roads - the Champs Elysée - there are dealerships so spectacular and enticing you'll want to move your belongings straight in, never mind drive a car out.
As you'd expect, the three French big-hitters have homes here - Renault, Peugeot, Citroen - but so have Mercedes-Benz and Toyota and their shop windows are stylish enough for sightseers to get snapping.
The show-stopper though belongs to Citroen whose façade wouldn't look out of place in the Tate Modern with its front full of glass and angles. There are eye-catching displays that draw your attention upwards to its many floors, tempting you inside even if you're late for a date up the Eiffel Tower.
It's more like a high-end night club once you're in with a mass of mirrors on the ceiling and walls, subtle lighting in soothing shades and the latest model spinning and sparkling on a turntable.
There's a motorsport section for the rally fans, a boutique area for branded clothing, a variety of models for children and motorised ones for parents, as well as glossy brochures and keepsake key rings. And if you pop into the Peugeot dealership a few metres along there's a portion dedicated to the company's other best-selling product - pepper pots. Renault, too, makes a big play of its Formula One involvement with a Red Bull machine luring passers-by.
These showrooms offer the right amount of glitz and glamour to create an atmosphere where you want to part with your well-earned wonga, yet they're still intimate enough to offer a personal service. There's a frisson of excitement about them that makes you rush into your pocket and buy something, even if it's just a T-shirt (sitting proudly in my wardrobe).
On London's Park Lane there's a small collection of dealerships similar to those on the Champs Elysee though the only brand for reasonable budgets is Mini. But pin-up stores like these should be in every town no matter what badge is above the front door.
Wouldn't it be great if we could buy a car - the exact same car - from a swanky establishment where we're treated with kid gloves for a day, rather than the forecourt of an industrial estate where we're just another tick in the salesman's target book. It's about making money to them all, of course, but there are preferable ways of extracting it.
And please, local dealers have got to realise our tastes and demands are more ambitious now - tying balloons to door mirrors and opening the tailgates of every car on the premises is not what we respond to anymore.
After all, a 'show'room should be just that.
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