On the day the Senate has thrown out the $14 billion rescue package for the US Big Three, I’ve been sent one of those spoof car ads by a chum in the industry.

Big 3 It comes in the form of a joint ad by Ford, GM and Chrysler and comes with the banner headline: ‘You wouldn’t buy our sh*tty cars. So we’ll be taking your money anyway’ and signs off with the tag-line, ‘We’re the Big Three. We don’t need to compete.’

Leaving aside the sums involved – given some of the numbers I’ve seen of late, $14 billion looks like an offer of a sticking plaster to someone who’s just trod on a mine – I’m afraid the cruel author of the fake ad has a point.

I know that the putative rescue package comes with dozens of strings attached, but what is needed is a total reappraisal of their entire car design, engineering and production process. They need to start again.

The unavoidable truth is that the indigenous American car industry has worked on a stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap approach for years, blind to the fact that declining market share and the rise of the US-built Japanese brands showed beyond a doubt that what the Americans would rather do is pay decent money for a decent car.