If quirky pop acts and Graham Norton are your thing, then this weekend will be very much for you, as the eccentric world of Eurovision makes its return to our screens.
It’s well documented that the continent’s most famous song contest brings together the best of the weird and wonderful from around Europe, much to our own amusement.
While this Saturday night will showcase the best Europe has to offer in music– in the loosest of terms - we’ve devised our own list of continental talent, but of the motoring type. So, here is a selection of European vehicles that perhaps define their nation the best.
Denmark – Zenvo ST-1
Kicking off with the host nation, Denmark is far from being a well known nation of car producers, but one recently ambitious project found fame on a certain BBC 2 motoring show. The Zenvo ST-1 is Denmark’s answer to the supercar, and with its less than conservative styling and twin-charged V8 producing a whopping 1,250bhp, it certainly sounds like a fast piece of kit. However, this seemed a little too much for it to handle when it caught fire with Jeremy Clarkson at the wheel.
France – Citroen DS
Substance and style is where the French come into the frame. There has been many an evocative product to emerge from France where we find our next car, the Citroen DS. Recognised as one of the 20th Century’s most influential car designs, the DS was the epitome of French chic when it was launched in 1955, while also heralding the first vehicle to implement hydraulics on not just steering and brakes but also on the suspension, clutch and transmission components.
Italy – Ferrari 275 GTS
While France looks to marry style and function together, Italy would rather just go all out for the former. The 275 GTS’ predecessor – the 250 California - is usually thought of as the more popular model, but this is a convertible that was impossibly pretty and was perfect for cruising the Italian Riviera.
Sweden – Volvo 850 R estate
With a mixture of brawn, brains and power was the Volvo 850 R, an estate car capable of reaching 62mph from standstill in less than seven seconds while possessing indestructible qualities. The 850 R was a bit of a sleeping giant as a result of its family car visuals, but its performance levels were brought to the fore after it became the first estate car to enter the British Touring Car Championship back in 1994.
Netherlands – Spyker C8
It’s fair to say that there are many connotations when something is referred to as Dutch, and when the Spyker designers were creating the C8, you may be forgiven for thinking some them were involved in this instance. Most definitely thought of as both weird and wonderful, the C8 does look fabulous albeit in a slightly ridiculous way.
Switzerland – Rinspeed sQuba
If you thought the Spyker was a bit out there, then take a look at what has come out of ‘boring’ Switzerland. Rinspeed love to modify a car beyond anything that has been done before, and with the sQuba they’ve created an actual car for both road and water. It’s no surprise that the amphibious car was influenced by the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved me and it’s fitting that this is based on another of Norfolk’s finest, the Elise.
Great Britain – Ford Escort RS Cosworth
It may have been more apt to have the likes of a Jaguar E-type to enter the fray at this point, but with the way GB entries tend to carry themselves these days – Bonnie Tyler not included - it seemed more appropriate to include something the young crowd of Britain would relate to. Although made by an American company, the Escort ‘Cossie’ is very much a British car and an iconic one at that, as well as having more of a common touch to it than the luxurious Jag.
Germany – Volkswagen Beetle
We were somewhat spoilt for choice went it came to Germany, but it felt right to represent them with something that shows their ability to build something that has stood the test of time. Unfortunately for some, that car is the Beetle; a vehicle born out of Nazi Germany and one that is still going strong today thanks to VW’s capability to evolve the car to modern standards, and also because the iconic name no doubt still brings in customers who love the fashionable machine it has become.
Ireland – Shamrock
Right, Ireland doesn’t really have what you would call a bustling car industry, but it seemed unfair to miss out one of Eurovision’s most successful nations - we’ll just blank Jedward out of our minds, shall we. So just to give them an entry of any kind, here is the Shamrock car, a model that had hopes of becoming a luxury brand in the US. However, the Shamrock was heavily flawed due to its overweight nature and very underpowered Austin engine; as a result, the desired 10,000-strong production estimate barely surpassed 10 examples.
Greece – NAMCO Pony
The Greek car industry was never particularly strong for sustainable periods of time, which feels rather fitting with the country’s financial woes of late. However, there was perhaps one manufacturer that tried to resist hardship, one labelled as the not so catchy National Motor Company of Greece (NAMCO) whose most treasured son was the Pony. The jeep like vehicle didn’t exactly fill you with confidence, but with some help from Citroen, the Pony did sell in slightly reasonable numbers.
Russia – UAZ 469
If a car manufacturer ever represented its nation so accurately it has to be Russian firm UAZ which strictly produces military type vehicles for both army and civilian purposes. The 469 has been in production since 1972 and arguably has barely changed a bit, as it still looks to put on a rugged and rather aggressive stance towards motoring and not take any guff from no one.
Tell us below which of the above would get a maximum score and which would get nil point.