Will Ratan Tata ring me?

Published: 03 October 2008

I met Ratan Tata yesterday. He seemed like a nice bloke.

There I was, midway through my mission to cover every press conference at the Paris motor show, waiting for the Mini Crossover Concept unveiling. I’d already taken note of a certain Chris Bangle watching the proceedings with interest, having made his way over from the neighbouring BMW stand.

But then a familiar figure walked right past me and joined the crowds waiting to see Mini’s new 4x4. It was Ratan Tata, but there was no sharp suit like Lamborghini boss Stephan Winklemann, just a two-piece that looked comfy, and there was no gaggle of minders clearing a path for him – Tata led, they followed behind at a distance.

The press conference, there were flashing lights, four ‘HOMP’ boys unveiled the Mini (I still haven’t got to the bottom of who they are) and Tata was off. Time to make my move.

Only suddenly his minders were guiding him away from me. Had they realised my tactics? No, but Bangle’s BMW people were on the case before me. His people talked to Tata’s people, then the two great men were introduced, shared pleasantries I couldn’t hear, exchanged business cards, and then Tata was on the move again.

Now was my chance. I stepped forward, grinned, extended my hand, waiting to be ignored. But Tata immediately accepted my outstretched limb and we shook hands while I introduced myself – he was smart enough to realise he didn’t need to reciprocated. I gave Tata my business card, the latest copy of CAR, and then he was off, on his way to see another unveiling.

My thoughts on a brief 30 seconds with the man? It seems like a thoroughly bloody nice bloke. I wonder how many other car company chiefs or billion-pound business bosses would give little old me the time of day. I’m now just waiting to see if he’ll call…

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Paris motor show 2008


By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy