TOP GEAR’S MISS-SHIFT SENDS MEXICAN SPORTS CAR COMPANY INTO HIGH GEAR
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Published on Mon, Feb 21, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Every cloud has its silver lining After BBC Top Gear co-host Richard Hammond’s attempt at ethnic humor (“Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent…”) resulted in a complaint lodged by the Mexican Ambassador, followed by hundreds of complaints from viewers to BBC Mundo, and six members of Parliament urging the BBC to apologize as ‘a matter of urgency’, those of us watching all this unfold wondered if a car show could become responsible for the next international crisis, Archduke Franz Ferdinand-style. That the matter became the center of attention in Parliament is astonishing. As it happens, however, United Kingdom Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was about to visit Mexico. And the last thing they wanted was any embarrassment—or worse yet, danger—coming the way of the Deputy PM Clegg. And what about the Mexican sports car that was the object of the disaffection from the British hosts of Top Gear? The segment had started as an introduction to the Mexican sports car, the Mastretta MXT, before degenerating into a recap of old ethnic stereotypes (see LA CAR’s Top Gear Shifts Into Low Gear).
As it turns out, the publicity has been great for the Mexican sports car company. "We were not prepared for this,” Mastretta spokesperson Carlos Sandoval told AFP. “The Top Gear program has given us publicity in Mexico and abroad that we could not have paid for." Not that the company has been entirely pleased with the Top Gear introduction. "It was a real annoyance, because in truth, the show used the car as a pretext to make comments said to be humorous, but which in reality were xenophobic, discriminatory and racist," said Carlos Mastretta, the company’s general manager. But Mastretta admits that the controversy has brought in a sudden surge of Internet traffic on the company's website. There was even an increase in visits to the factory and orders for the Mastretta MXT sports car are beginning to pour in, according to AFP. "I have various agreements with distributors in Europe and we're in initial talks with countries in Latin America like Brazil and Chile," Mastretta told AFP. Up until recently, most Mexicans have known Mastretta as a leading designer of public transportation vehicles. The MXT sports car harkens back to the company’s roots, Mastretta told AFP. Italian immigrant Daniel Mastretta founded Mastrettadesign Tecnoidea SA de CV in 1987. The company boasts that Daniel Mastretta learned the art of auto-making from none other than sports car legend Enzo Ferrari.
2011 marks the first year of production for the MXT. The company says production will be limited to 100 vehicles for the first year, with volume gradually increasing to 400 and 500 units in the third and fourth year. Once production gets underway, Carlos Mastretta believes the car will be a hot seller—including in the country whose mocking remarks stirred up so much controversy. "In a month and a half it will be in Great Britain," Mastretta told AFP. And what about the Deputy Prime Minister’s visit to Mexico? Alas, the Deputy Prime Minister pulled out of the official visit, reportedly to ensure his coalition gets its legislation enabling a referendum to be held on voting reform. - Roy Nakano
ABOUT MASTRETTA Mastrettadesign Tecnoidea SA de CV, or Mastretta, is a division of Tecnoidea SAPI de CV, a Mexican design and engineering consulting firm based in the Mexico City area. Founded: 1987 by Daniel Mastretta in Mexico City Mastretta MXT specifications: Price: $55-60,000 USA (est.) EPA fuel economy rating: TBD Body style(s): Coupé Layout MR layout Engine(s): Straight-4, 1999 cc, 4v Transmission(s): 5-speed manual Dimensions Length: 3,900 mm (153.5 in) Width: 1,790 mm (70.5 in) Height: 1,150 mm (45.3 in) Curb weight 900 kg (1,984 lb) Designer Daniel Mastretta Performance 0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds (manufacturer estimate) Top speed: 143 mph Frequently asked questions: Where can I order a Mastretta MXT? Mastretta says theyare building a dealer network that will bring the MXT to Europe, the USA, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia and Latin America. Presently, the car is available for purchase directly from its website. Mastretta says it can ship the MXT to any location worldwide. When can I get my car delivered? Production of the MXT began in January of 2011 and delivery is set to start in March 2011. Mastretta says the car is completed between 60 to 90 days after the initial deposit. How can I test a Mastretta? Currently test drives are only available in Mexico. Where can I send my car for service? Mastretta says every distributor will have warranty and repair services. Does the MXT come with a warranty? 2 year or 40,000 Km. Will it be available in right hand drive? Mastretta says it will build right hand drive cars for customers in Japan, the UK, and Australia. I live in the USA. Is the Mastretta MXT easy to register? The company says the Mastretta MXT will be available in the USA in the form of a component car. The time to complete the registration process depends on each state's legislation. Website: mastrettacars.com