BEN annual luncheon – and

The great and good (and a few disreputable journalists, of
course) gathered at the Drapers Hall in London in late May for the
annual BEN luncheon, and a most enjoyable time was had by all. TV
presenter and former rally car driver Penny Mallory gave an
entertaining after-dinner speech focusing on gender differences in
driving – and other areas of life.

The Tracey Emin-decorated Fiat 500It was
heartening to hear that, after finishing last year with a deficit,
BEN is back in the black thanks to some very impressive fundraising
efforts. The charity’s important work will hopefully be given a
further boost by the Mille Miglia Rally, which will see intrepid
souls jump in the nearest four- (or three-, or two-)wheeled
contraption and travel through Italy, after setting off from
Trafalgar Square on September 20. See the BEN website if you’d like
to take part.

OBE for industry grandee

Christopher Macgowan, former head of the SMMT and much more
besides, has said he was “hugely honoured” to be appointed to the
OBE for services to the motor industry. We’re sure he has plenty of
letters after his name already – but more can’t hurt, of course,
especially not when they are so prestigious. On his blog, Macgowan
wrote: “This is proving to be a very special day for me.” We think
that’s probably something of an understatement.

Caring in China

Who says the car industry doesn’t have a heart? Following on
from the recent devastating earthquake in China, a group of
automotive companies have got together to provide aid. Shanghai
LTI, a joint venture between London taxi maker LTI and Chinese
motor group Geely, and the China Car Times have organised a charity
auction, with one of the prizes a trip to Longbridge to see the
relaunch of the MG brand. A worthy cause, indeed. See
for more details.

The £200,000 Fiat

You may have problems fitting your collection of golf clubs into
the boot of a Fiat 500, but at least it’s a reasonably priced
little thing, with list prices starting at a modest £7,900. So who
in their right mind would pay £200,000 for one? A Tracey Emin fan,
that’s who, as the Cinquecento in question was decorated by the
well-known (and controversial) artist – all for a good cause, as
proceeds went to ARK, a kids’ charity set up by a group of
financial institutions. We have to ask what the annual insurance
bill is for such a unique car, and how on earth anyone would be
able to set a residual. Perhaps buying artist-decorated cars is one
way for fleets to get assets on their books which appreciate in
value, rather than the opposite. A Citroën Picasso probably doesn’t

 Motor Finance Issue: 44 – June 08
Published for the web: June 26 08 11:3
Last Updated: July 28 08 9:29