When Land Rover announced it was working with Victoria Beckham on a special-edition Range Rover Evoque, there was a collective sigh of disbelief among the motoring world. What, after all, could Posh Spice add to the brand?
Over time, though, there was a general mellowing of opinion; Beckham was carving a career as a respected fashion designer, and her input into the Evoque was to be limited to a special-edition model, with a focus on colour and trim work.
Then, last year in Beijing, the car was unveiled. It was expensive but tastefully enhanced. It sold out. That, we were told, was that; for now at least, the dalliance with the former Spice Girl was over. Job done.
Except, that is, about 300 miles into a drive with the family in a Range Rover that I was lucky enough to be testing over Christmas, my wife piped up: “Didn’t Victoria Beckham design the interior on this car?”
Well, no, she didn’t. But then the mother-in-law climbed aboard and said the same thing. And then my sister-in-law. None of them is given to wearing floaty couture or reading the gossip magazines, but all of them ‘knew’ enough to know that at some point Beckham had worked with Land Rover.
So there they were, sitting in the admirably plush (and suitably priced) interior of the new Range Rover and making the mental leap that it was the work of Beckham, as opposed to a talented and hard-working design team based in the Midlands.
There’s nothing wrong with that, you might argue; none of them is nearly engaged enough in car culture to be citing Gerry McGovern and his team for name checks, but you do have to wonder where a supposedly small-scale celebrity tie-in has taken Land Rover.
Will every future Land Rover design be credited to Beckham? And who actually got the most from the deal? As I see it, Beckham basked in the glory of the Evoque beyond her actual input to the project and is now sharing in the lustre of the Land Rover and Range Rover success story.
If that translates into selling more cars, perhaps Land Rover as a business won’t mind. But I suspect there will be a few talented individuals within the company who will long wish the dalliance had never happened.