I simply Kahn’t take it anymore

Last year, the Kahn Design Group reported annual sales of £30 million. That’s about 50% more than one of the UK’s most cherished specialist car manufacturers, which produces hundreds of cars every year.

On an internet forum thread about the company, one user responded to a positive post, saying, “You can’t come on here not hating everything Kahn does – it’s against [the] rules.”

While in this particular case the response was said with tongue firmly in cheek, it does pick up on a trend that is really starting to annoy me. I’m speaking about an increase in the rose-tinted-specs approach to reporting, where spurious press releases about companies that don’t actually exist, and which don’t actually make any products, are given disproportionately positive coverage for the fruits of some fairly average Photoshop skills.

Meanwhile, companies that actually do make products, and do so successfully (and Kahn is just one example), are too-often slated simply because of personal preferences about design.

Over the last year, I’ve spotted about half a dozen ‘companies’ pop up out of nowhere claiming to offer (or more audaciously, to have actually carried out) bespoke car modification to some of the most expensive products in the world. Press releases reveal the name (usually something in mock Latin, or mimicking an existing company, like ‘Regalitus’ or ‘Lamann’) and by-and-large a few familiar press shots that have been edited to show wide arch conversions, deep side skirts, massive rear wings or bizarre interior remodels. But of all the ‘companies’ I’ve seen that fall into this category, only one was actually registered to trade, and even then, there was no money and no customers at the end of the paper trail.

Extending the point further, on a separate internet thread, news of a company’s record-breaking event surfaced not long ago. This ‘record’ allegedly trounced something engineered in Germany, by a group of world experts, at a cost of half a billion dollars. Despite having no proof, the former company’s ‘record’ is now indexed on more than 25,000 web pages around the world.

Meanwhile, somewhere else on the internet, a successful and personable 43 year-old entrepreneur is being derided as someone who sells tat to “chavs and footballers”.

This has to stop.

Firstly, lots of people need to stop spending quite so much of their time caring or worrying about what other people spend their money on. If you want to travel to Bradford to exchange your cash for a UK-built car with some aftermarket alloy wheels and styling tweaks, then good for you. That’s your choice.

Secondly, we need to start giving credit where it’s due. If you benefit the UK economy by selling things that people want to buy, and that don’t harm anyone, you should be applauded, not ridiculed.

Finally, we should respect those specialist companies that are manufacturing desirable products, by treating dubious newcomers with appropriate scepticism where needed. Stating that someone in their garden shed with nothing but a welding gun and a dream has ‘beaten’ a multi-million pound R&D operation is extremely bold; and to do so with no proof (or even convincing evidence) is simply reckless.