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On London Motor Shows

The London Motor Show was held in Earls Court in October 1972.

Certain Jaguar apprentices were selected to ‘man the stand’ i.e. hand out literature to the customers who visited the marque.

One had to be inoffensively discerning and confine such bounteousness to those who looked like they may purchase a vehicle, rather than to the hoards of ‘rubber-necks’ and ‘wheel-kickers’ who populated the place, particularly at weekends.

We worked alternate shifts: 9.00am until 3.00pm, 3.00pm until 9.00pm. Either way it was a long day and I can empathise with anyone who has done ‘stand duty’, be they in the motor trade or no.

There is a dull, aching pain which starts to manifest in the small of the back after the third hour of being on one’s feet.

It can lead to tetchiness and curt responses to visitors – not the ideal sales environment.

It seems not to matter what type of shoe one wears, and I am talking about blokes here; how women with high heels get on, I just don’t know. Well, I wouldn’t would I?

The ‘Show that year marked the launch of the long-wheelbase version of the XJ6 imaginatively titled: the XJ6L.

Ever since its inception in 1968, the XJ6 had been criticised for the lack of rear legroom; this caused many companies to disregard the model, there being insufficent room to park the boss in the back.

By adding 4” (10.16cm) to the wheelbase, Jaguar hoped to answer this criticism and remove the objection.

Some people however are never satisfied; apparently, a rubber-neck, with no intention of buying, had expressed his candid opinion of said extension to a dealer staff member.

The salesman in question was employed by an old-established Southern Counties dealership and spoke with a cut-glass accent.

The alleged exchange went as follows:

So the wheelbase has been extended by 4 inches, has it?

It’s not much to write home about, is it?

Well, sir, if you had it stuck on the end of your member, you’d be bragging, wouldn’t you?

Game, set and match. Totally unacceptable to day, of course.

In September 1973, the instrumental ‘Eye Level’, by the Simon Park Orchestra, was at No.1 in the UK charts for four weeks.

At the Earls Court Motor Show of that year, the Dutch vehicle manufacturer, DAF (van Doorne’s Automobile Fabrik) chose to play this as aural wallpaper on their stand, featuring the relatively new DAF 66 model.

The Eye Level tune was appropriate – it was the theme music for the Thames Television Dutch detective series: Van der Valk.

DAF and Jaguar stands were in close proximity, resulting in both sets of staff enjoying this catchy little tune from 10 in the morning until 9 at night – continuously.

Perhaps it got to and stayed at number 1 because all motor show staff members clubbed together to buy all pressings in an attempt to get it stopped.

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