Let’s just say you were buying a car and you gave me the job of finding the right one.
You make it clear to me that the engine was important, it had to be powerful, well maintained, yet quite easy on the gas.
“Sure, leave it with me.”
The next day the alluring big-cat purr of a V8 can be heard outside your house. You run to the door in anticipation as surely your brand new chariot awaits. Adrenalin pumping, you fling open the front door and instantly your face drops like a guillotine. There I am, all smiles, with my head hanging out the window of a cruddy Datsun 180B. It’s kinda mustard coloured, although one of the panels is Kermit green and it’s looking very beaten up.
“What the hell do you call this?” you say, justifiably outraged.
“This is the one!” I say, a little hurt by your tone. “Just let me flip the bonnet for you.”
Sure enough, a beautiful, German-engineered V8 engine is ticking away like a finely-tuned Swiss watch. Awesome to behold.
“I know I said the engine is important, but it’s gotta look good. Get this hunka junk outta here.”
And off I go, tail between my legs. Undeterred I return soon after with a beautiful sports car. I beep the horn and your look of incredulity soon turns to a goofy ‘hey, what do we have here?’ grin.
“Not bad, huh?”
You do a couple of laps of the car taking in the luscious curves, picturing yourself pulling nonchalantly through a clifftop hairpin with an Audrey Hepburn type tugging at her billowing head scarf in the passenger seat (sorry, ladies… insert your ideal companion here). You then tap one of the panels. Uh oh, it’s fibreglass. You then flip the ‘lid’ and discover some sort of go-cart engine working overtime like a frog in a blender.
“This is a kit car. It’s a toy. No one’s going to take me seriously in this thing!”
After another couple of attempts we’re getting nowhere. The retro car is “too high maintenance”, the brand new Commodore stationwagon is “too practical”, while the four-cylinder hybrid didn’t have “enough grunt”.
“Right,” I say. “How about we start with a budget and work backwards from there?”
From there I discover there’s no point having a supercar engine because you don’t have a supercar budget. But I know you need a V8 so there’s no point opting for a gee-whiz Japanese sports car. In other words, I can quickly put together a shortlist of cars that offer the best possible combination features in your budget, without skimping on anything important.
It was revealing having a good chat to Neil Perry about his Spice Market restaurant venture. The theme that kept on rearing its head was this notion of ‘the whole package’. And for Neil and his partners this means giving every aspect of the fitout an appropriate slice of the budget. Let’s say the interior design is the car body and the appointments; let’s call the kitchen the engine; perhaps the sound system could be the… um, sound system; maybe the website, the tyres, the crockery might be the dashboard etc etc. Sure, Neil has one of the biggest budgets in town, but there are plenty of expensive white elephants out there – a fat chequebook isn’t any guarantee of success. A big chunk of guaranteeing success is thinking of everything and factoring it in.
So in the same way that you wouldn’t have a gorgeous Porsche 911 chocked up on bricks in your front yard or a Barina with a muscle car engine busting out of the bonnet, get the balance right through fastidious planning and realistic budgets. It’s reassuring to see it’s a philosophy the very best adhere to… and prosper by. – CH