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Opinion: we need to save one example of every car, even the rubbish ones

All rubbish cars should be preserved, reckons TGTV’s Sam Philip. Even the ones we only have grainy images of...

Published: 10 Apr 2023

In Switzerland, there lives a man who collects and catalogues poos. Human poos, specifically. Hundreds of box fresh specimens, posted from all over the world, to be carefully logged in his chilled poo library. 

This man’s name is Professor Adrian Egil, a microbiologist at the University of Zurich on a heroic mission to preserve human microbia: the gut bacteria that deal with digestion and all sorts of other important health stuff. 

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And they do, apparently, need preserving. Due to the rise of antibiotic medicine and increasingly globalised diets – drugs ’n’ KFC, basically – many vital strains of gut microbes across the planet are heading for extinction, with, say the scientists, potentially catastrophic consequences for human health.

Which is why, in his icy dung-vault, Prof Egil has been furiously filing stools, building a library from which exotic bowel bacteria might be revived down the line, if needed.

It’s hardly the most glamorous wildlife gig. But someone needs to look out for the small, stinky stuff, right? If the African elephant goes extinct, folk are going to notice. But if we lose Heliobacter pylori, no one’ll have a clue, at least not until they get a nasty bloaty tummy next time they tackle a tarka daal. 

I bring this up because I’ve been wondering whether we don’t need a poo vault for cars. Somewhere to preserve the least celebrated specimens of the automotive biome, in case they might be useful somewhere down the line.

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Because your glamorous old supercars, your championship-winning racers, your trailblazing concepts – they’re the snow leopards, the white rhinos, the mountain gorillas of the car world. Rare, endangered, sure, but at least someone’s keeping an eye on them, holing a few up in zoos, sequencing their DNA, giving them a decent shot at being preserved for future generations. 

But what about the undesirable, musty specimens? The cars that are dying out in their hundreds every day, simply because they’re ancient and entirely unlovable? Twenty years ago, 6,000 Proton Wiras patrolled Britain’s streets. Today, 71. Who’s looking out for the Wira? It could vanish without trace, and we wouldn’t notice (and yes, that grainy image above is the only picture of a Wira in the TG archives). Talbot Solara? Nine remaining. Seat Malaga, about the same. Kia Clarus? A solitary pair. Tata Gurkha? Just one. These forgotten specimens are the endangered gut bacteria of our roads. 

And true, most will mourn the passing of the Wira or the Solara about as much as they would the loss of their Bifidobacterium bifidum. But ecosystems, they’re complicated things. Who knows when a Wira might come in handy? At least it’d remind humankind never to build another Wira. 

Someone needs to preserve our snotters. Prof Egil seems a broad-minded, strong-stomached soul. Maybe, once he’s finished selflessly filing our actual crap, he can move on to our crap cars. 

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