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Motor Mouth articles 2009

Royal favourite for a roadside rescue

Need any help? I’ll fetch my tools

YOUR car’s broken down at the roadside and you don’t know your big end from your ball joint. There’s no-one around to rescue you and desperation is starting to set in.

Suddenly, an official motorcade comes into view and salvation is at hand. But who would you like to glimpse sitting in the plush leather rear seats, half-masked by the limo’s tinted glass?

When this extraordinarily hypothetical question was put to more than 2,000 motorists in a recent industry poll, it threw up some pretty strange results.

The Queen was the top choice among those quizzed. Some 16 per cent reckoned Her Majesty was quite capable of rolling up the royal sleeves, donning the royal overalls and getting stuck in with the royal spanners from the royal toolbox.

Our gracious sovereign was certainly regarded as a more likely repair person than David Cameron, with 13 per cent, but the Tory leader, in turn, was thought to have more chance of effecting a running repair on your car than Gordon Brown. The PM’s miserable 9 per cent was even lower than the 11 per cent of the votes cast for Simon Cowell.

Yes, it is absurd, of course it is; that’s the beauty of polls and surveys, especially when they’re as hypothetical as this one, which was carried out on behalf of something called the Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme.

The idea behind it, presumably, was to drive home to punters the importance of using properly trained and accredited mechanical people to sort out your car’s ailments rather than any old back-street grease monkey. Personally, however, I’ve always found the latter perfectly up to the task and, from a cost point of view, they tend to bleed me slightly less dry.

“We had to laugh,” laughed Nigel Beaven, spokesperson for the ATA scheme. “People may know that during the war, the Queen trained to become a fully qualified mechanic. However, with today’s modern, high-tech cars, finding an automotive technician you know you can rely on can be a real challenge.”

The poll also revealed that most people had no idea how to check whether their mechanic was up to the job, with eight out of ten people admitting they think it is difficult to tell a good mechanic from a bad one.

The survey also produced some interesting insights into what the public considered important when choosing where to have their car serviced or repaired. More than 80 per cent felt cost was important and a similar number said using a firm with professionally accredited staff was a major factor.

Less than half of those polled, however, thought it was important to have somewhere comfortable to wait while their car was being worked on. But the posh seats in a royal limo would be comfy enough, assuming the Queen didn’t need someone to hand her a rag.

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