IF YOU SPOT a flash new car on red delivery plates with a beautiful girl in the passenger seat after lunch today, you should follow it. The chances are you have caught a Hong Kong motor trader taking his latest model out on a Valentine's Day test drive. You could see where up-and-coming showroom folk like to wind down - or steam up - their windows in Hong Kong. Motor dealers make it their business to learn where cars look and drive best, and the chances are that some of the young thrusters along Gloucester Road will pick up the keys to their best works cars and apply their demo-run knowledge to their own romantic ends today.
So, what car would they choose and where would they go on a romantic drive? Hong Kong's dealers were quick to share a few Valentine's Day tricks of their trade.
Italian Motors' chief Herbert Adamczyk would drive a Ferrari 360 Spider today. He says the passionate, sensuous motor is 'a car you love almost as much as your Valentine'. He recommends a 'romantic Italian dinner at Grand Hyatt's Grissini, then drive her up to the Peak, open the top of your 360 Spider, hold hands and gaze at the stars'. Attach a little present to your partner's red roses on Valentine's Day, he says. 'Talk about the future together, the holiday in Tuscany next year, and so on.'
James Alderton, of Aston Martin Hong Kong, would pick the James Bond marque's DB7 GTA today. He'd take the classic to Shek O or Stanley, for outdoor dining, having emptied the ash-tray and removed discarded clothing from the back seat. 'Try not to hammer the throttle or brakes too hard when driving. Put away your CD of hard-driving rock anthems and play some soft, sensual sounds from Cuba or Brazil,' he says. 'And let your thoughts run ahead of you and your words escape from the heart.'
Gary Cheung and Yvonne Kwok of Mazda Motors say the sexy, rotary-engined RX-8 'will definitely arouse the desire to conquer', particularly if you fill a yellow model with 100 red roses. 'Take your sweetheart to the most crowded areas such as Central, Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui, just to show how you treat your other half,' Kwok says. 'Next, find a quiet destination, Repulse Bay or the Peak.' But hanky-panky's out, says Kwok. 'We believe that all RX-8 drivers are gentlemen and they will behave themselves, even though they may sometimes be wild at heart,' she says. As for music, they recommend the renowned Mazda Zoom-Zoom music and the song Can't Take My Eyes Off You.
Calvin Lam of AutoFrance Hong Kong likes the electric hard top of the Peugeot 206CC. 'You can look at the beautiful sky or enjoy the moonlight freely whenever you want,' he says. Lam would drive up to the Peak.
As would Crown Motors' Godwin Ching, in a Lexus SC430, 'for stargazing while listening to love songs over the Mark Levinson audio system' - preferably classics such as Endless Love and I Will Always Love You. Colleague Susanna Wu follows the vans and says she'd opt for the Toyota Alphard G. 'Lovers can drive to a beach - perhaps towards Repulse Bay - snuggle up and watch a romantic movie like Titanic or Ghost on the in-cabin DVD player.' Ching and Wu say the Daihatsu Gino is 'made for young lovers'. They'd take it to Lan Kwai Fong, set the scene with 'chill-out' music, then let the conversation flow.
Richburg Motors boss Eric Wong recommends the Toyota Harrier. 'The car has a full skyview glass top. In the rain or under a good moon, you could lie at 160 degrees watching the sky, talking' and listening to the sound of the sea at Shek O, he says. Wong's lurve music? Anything by S.E.N.S., Remembering Me, Love In Song, The Memory In Space, and Andrea Bocelli's Time To Say Goodbye.
Little-car lovers can get it on, too. Angela Uy of Suzuki dealers Island Motors says the Wagon R is the most romantic for young lovers. 'Its design and higher roof allow more adaptation or decoration, especially for Valentine's Day. We have seen Wagon R owners decorating their cars with special neon lights, fur or other fluffy materials.' Who wouldn't. Uy would drive to Stanley via Deep Water Bay and Repluse Bay. 'Then we can enjoy a walk on the beach and a drink in one of the waterfront bars,' she says. And Uy says she'd play the original soundtrack of the Japanese drama Long Vacation on her CD. 'The songs suit the mood and the car - romantic, modern and Japanese.'
Wilco Ng of Volkswagen dealers Harmony Motors would take a well-washed and waxed New Beetle automatic to the Tsing Ma Bridge at night. 'You could also surprise her by putting a Valentine's Day gift in the glove compartment [if it's not too big],' he says.
Hong Kong Automobile Association chief Andrew Windebank, whose most romantic car is a 1963 S2 Lotus 7, recommends keeping your hands on the wheel and gear stick, paying full attention to the road, and uttering such sweet nothings as: 'Listen to that exhaust and the Webers at 8,200, darling. Glorious isn't it? Nothing like the howl of a four-cylinder Ford at full chat.'
Armed with such expert advice, how can you break down on the road to love tonight? Have a safe and happy Valentine's Day drive.