Topless and lovin' it

18 October 2012 - 21:34

Lingerie model Katie Price, singer Rihanna and Italian politician Anna Ilona Staller all have something in common apart from their much publicised talents - they used their assets to boost their bank balances.

Price, better known as Jordan, is a famous topless model known for enhancing her assets with surgery. Rihanna is a famous singer who appeared topless in an advertisement for body lotion.

Anna is better known by her nickname, La Cicciolina. She is an Italian porn star who became a member of parliament and gained notoriety for talking politics with a breast exposed. One cannot imagine such conduct in our tepid corridors of power, which is why many politicians seem prone to dozing off.

Janet Jackson, turned Nasty while performing at a Super Bowl concert in 2004 alongside P Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock and Justin Timberlake.

While performing Rock Your Body Timberlake apparently honoured the promise in his lyrics to have her "naked by the end of the song", and tore off a piece of Jackson's shirt, revealing a nipple that ensured nobody bothered about the baseball result. The incident became known as Nipplegate.

Going topless is the way to go ... but it did not have a happy ending for James Dean, the 1950s screen icon, who died in a head-on collision in his beloved 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. The cult of Dean is forever intertwined with that of the legendary car.

Even James Bond, who has survived the Cold War, lived through the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and saw America gets its first black head of state in President Barack Obama in 2008, has shared a fascination with topless beauties.

Of course, it was in 1995 in Goldeneye when Pierce Brosnan's BMW Z3 Roadster was famously cut in half by a helicopter. Other Bond topless favourites include the BMW Z8 in The World Is Not Enough, which was also gobbled up, this time by a helicopter with a menacing slicing machine-like attachment.

Topless cars - and girls - transcend the Bond brand. You can go as far - and slow - as you want, and in this case look no further than the icon Mercedes SL badge which was born in 1954. It and continues to raise eyebrows and pick the wallets of those who can afford to make a statement on the road.

The SL has had more nips and tucks than Cher but continues to charm in the 21st century - even if you fancy picking up an older model.

However, when talking topless cars of the past 20 years, the sadly discontinued Honda S2000 stands out, along with the Nissan 370Z. But, in terms of sales and sheer style, neither Audi attractions nor BMW beauties come close to touching the iconic Mazda MX5.

What it may lack in power, it makes up for in style, handling and evergreen appeal.

Just how tired is a Z3 on the road? I do not want to be seen in a Z4; it is so yesterday.

Rather put me in an eight-year-old MX5 which looks, and has the feel, of a rejuvenated Kylie Minogue. Like chocolate, the Locomotion gets better with time.

Ironically, the Mazda was designed as a car that would be fun to drive but it was born at a time when fun was far from the minds of the world.

Time Magazine regarded 1989 as the year that changed the world.

The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, died, and in Beijing student protesters were mowed down by police in Tiananmen Square.

Communism was on its way out as Mikhail Gorbachev - whom Margaret Thatcher once described as someone she could do business with - was transforming the Soviet Union. Trade union Solidarity came to power in Poland, putting former car mechanic and trade union leader Lech Walesa into power. How many politicians you know of can tell you what is under the bonnet of a vehicle?

It was a special year 1989. The world was on its way to becoming a little more free than it used to be. As democratic winds began to blow throughout the world, the new technological era ushered the Mazda MX-5 into the world of motoring.

The cute little car first appeared at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989 and borrowed heavily, but cleverly, from cars with a reputation for being rough and ready roadsters - the Triumph or MGB and Lotus Elan, among others.

Roadsters have always been film favourites. Television shows like Remington Steele, Magnum, Hart to Hart, and others, as seen on toptv's Fox locally, always feature stars in dainty little cars.

The MX-5 aimed to capitalise on public fascination with cutie pie cars. Of course, it is not practical if you have a family. Where does the baby's car seat go? Where do you put the groceries with such limited space?

But the feeling behind the wheel is unlike anything you would get in a Toyota Tazz.

Over the years, the MX-5 has evolved into a beauty, with the latest model perhaps losing some of the ruggedness of the 2004/2005 models which, when they first got the turbo engines, were oh, so sporty and fun to drive. Processed fun just does not work; look at the way everyone pretends Formula One is worth watching?

Anyway, the Mazda MX-5 always manages to turn heads and, with the Honda S 2000 put out to pasture, the real threat to little Miss Maz should come from the car that outgrew its association with Mr Bean.

The Mini Cooper Roadster is no slimline Mazda with a body to die for. In the words of a Freddie Mercury song, it has the look of a "Fat Bottom Girl".

There is nothing wrong with that but compared to the slimline Kylie-like MX-5, J-Lo does look a bit more tired from the rear. However, the proof is in the pedal. This look at roadsters is a mix of experience and eye-candy. Certainly, one to watch out for is Nissan's nifty 370Z sports car with a soft-top sibling. The 370Z Roadster, designed from the outset as a convertible, is ready to join the awesome GT-R and thrilling 370Z Coupé to complete Nissan's sports car offerings.

Lower, leaner, lighter and faster than its predecessor, the new Roadster celebrates 40 years of the Z. Life begins at 40?

It is claimed that you get can Miss Nissan topless in 20 seconds flat, although speed is not necessarily the name of the game for a 40 year old; it is the heart and soul.

Compared to the Mini, which sells for between R290000 and R350000, or the brand new MX-5, which goes for around R367000, the Nissan 370Z Roadster sells for between R561000 to R582000. It is a more powerful car and should have some of the GT-R in its DNA. But the MX 5 is still in a class of its own.

Fiat and Mazda announced in May that they would be getting into bed together for the creation of the next generation roadster.

Fiat has its own funky roadster, too, so how will this dilute the traditional MX-5 as we know it? Change is pain as the world found out in 1989 - rest assured, the MX-5, with its less than dull new sleeping partner, will certainly up the ante in the topless car stakes. Let's wait and see.