How those optional extras add a hefty chunk to the cost of a car

It’s an incontrovertible fact that a lot of the profits in the automotive industry come from the aftermarket; that’s basically anything that’s replaced or added after the vehicle is sold by the original manufacturer. And of course, the ‘options’ that don’t come with the basic package but can add up to more than any presumably sane person would believe.

There are some real jaw-dropping examples of ‘dealer options’ like the Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe that offers a ‘Starlight Roof’. That one gets you a bunch of little white lights embedded in the headliner, resembling a starry sky (if the ambient light isn’t too bright) and costs a mere £8,215. Those lights, by the way, are just light, not diamonds. That’s a bit extreme, but other money-grabbing options are extremely common.

For instance, any SatNav system installed by the manufacturer or dealer: in darn near every case the system will cost you a few thousand pounds and it’ll be obsolete in a year or two. Not really practical when you consider all the mobile devices including phones that will show you a detailed map and tell you how to get there, for a couple hundred or even less.

On the other hand, however, there are the occasional serendipitous cases of an inexpensive option that actually makes good sense, and a classic example of that genre is the Door Edge Protector. If you’ve never opened your car door in a crowded car park or other less-than-spacious air space and whacked it into the car next to you, you’re a rarity. If no one has done the same to yours, you’re unbelievably lucky.

This is one of those unremarkable little inventions that makes you wonder why on Earth no one came up with it before. It was designed by Ford engineers in Germany and developed at their Dunton research centre in Essex – appropriately so, as England is “. . . home to some of the world’s narrowest streets and tightest parking spaces”, according to europeanmotornews.com. As an investment at £50 or thereabouts, this simple but very effective option can save untold sums in dent repair and paint jobs.