Automotive Name Game

Lately the automotive manufacturers seem to think that old names of cars should be revived. Some are putting their old car names on EV’s, some on SUV’s, and some are considering making entire brands out of them. No matter which way it happens to go, an automotive enthusiast is going to have something to say about it. The general public is going to have something to say about it too. Those two opinions might not be aligned.

The most recent, and potentially the most pivotal in terms of future unaffordable super/exotic/hyper cars, is that Lamborghini is reviving the Countach name. The Countach came out in 1974 as a wedge shaped, futuristic, made for speed vehicle. It was incredibly polarizing. By the end of its run in 1990 it grew to be an absolutely iconic, obnoxious, and completely impractical vehicle. But that was the point. Contrary to what most modern supercar owners do today, which is daily drive their quarter of a million dollar or more cars, the 1990 Countach was a loud 12 cylinder, painful cockpit, with brandishing looks that would gobble up miles on weekends in short bursts then be put away for 99.9% of the week, or more.

With styling, performance, and function all vital to understanding of what we know of as a specifically named vehicle, the Countach has a lot to live up to. It makes me wonder why they brought it back? Lamborghini has had no trouble coming up with names for vehicles. In my opinion, there was no need to bring back the Countach name. Ford has already shown how when you murky the water, you cause confusion. The Mustang Mach E and the Bronco Sport are prime examples.

I thought Lamborghini was smarter than that. A poster car of so many is now being brought back to life, but with a modern twist. If this is a production vehicle, which is unclear yet at the time of writing, it will really change the game for what these exclusive manufacturers might do. Granted, a lot of them already still have their legacy name plates or have brought back vehicles similar to them, without the old names. But the EV transformation could easily usher in a new Mercedes 300 SL (probably with slight change to EL), Ferrari F40 (probably to E40), Aston Martin DB5, even a McLaren F1. If you think I’m wrong or crazy, I get it, but I didn’t think the Countach would come back, yet here we are.

Consumers crazed with nostalgia are feeding the manufacturers with ideas that they want old cars. While that is true, we don’t actually want old car names. We want the idea of what old cars with iconic names have become. We want the limited edition, exclusive, fast, loud, and glorious looking vehicles that we grew up fantasizing about as kids. If the companies want to play games to see what works, fine, but to me a name is important. I’ll play. But, they should know, my bar is high.

Will Jaguar become Extinct?

My cousin and I were talking recently about the future of Jaguar and Land Rover. It was days before JLR announced they would be consolidating their lineup and explaining their plan to enter the electrification game. We all know that is where automobiles are heading, but is it sustainable?

The argument for electric vehicles in general can be an entire series of blogs, which I might do in the future. In this example, I want to focus specifically on Jaguar. One of the most shocking statements that I can’t comprehend is that Jaguar will not be introducing any new vehicles until 2025. That is 4 years of no new cars. What that means is they will continue producing the cars currently in their lineup, which is 5 different models, but they will not add another model. I am going to guess that they might not even do any refreshing of their current lineup either. They need to save as much money as possible. There is a huge chip shortage currently, and the pandemic has caused Jaguar to reduce their sales projections from 1 million vehicles sold to half that, with this information, I don’t think that Jaguar will survive. A car manufacturer can’t make money if it doesn’t make cars. It can’t make money if it doesn’t make new cars. It can’t make money if it doesn’t make a lot of cars.

They need to make money. Investing in electric is not cheap. It will require millions of dollars and I don’t think that Jaguar will have that. Only one of their vehicles is fully electric. With a goal to sell all electric vehicles by 2025, and only one currently being electric, with a goal to sell only a half million cars world wide, with only 5 cars in their lineup, that means with simple math, 100,000 fully electric Jaguars will reach the roads each year until 2025. I don’t know their sales numbers by models, so my estimation is a complete generalization. But, the fact remains, a car company can’t sustain itself on 500,000 cars a year and switch to all electric.

It is important to note as well, that I believe that projected 500,000 vehicles sold is combine with Land Rover sales. I am also not sure how all of the math adds up either, because 2020 sales according to the article were only 97,417.

With that perspective, the 500,000 might be the projection for total car sales by both brands until 2025. That is such a small, niche bunch of sales, that I don’t see how a profit can be found. I don’t see how a future can be forged. JLR is already sinking and creating a plan for an electric future only makes them look good on the surface. There is no way they can stay afloat beyond 2025.

I am going to make an educated guess that it would be wise to buy a Jaguar within the next 2 years. They very well could be some of the last Jaguar vehicles ever produced and they could become collectors items. Time will tell.

Could it be More Super?

About a decade ago, Toyota had roughly 3 of the exact same vehicle on the road. The Toyota 86, Scion FRS, and the Subaru BRZ. Granted the Subaru was not Toyota, it was a Subaru, but it was only that by badge. All three cars were basically the same. Now, for the new Toyota Supra, Toyota has teamed up with BMW. The BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra are roughly the same car. There are minor interior and exterior differences, as well as a few mechanical differences, but they have more similarities than differences. It is very similar to the products they had on the road ten years ago, and actually, still up until today with the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86. The fact that the 86 is still around is surprising in itself, and that can be a whole other blog subject.

To me, it would have made more sense to get rid of the 86 replace it with the Supra and instead of partner with BMW, do everything in house, based off the Lexus RC. If Nissan went slightly larger with their comeback king, the GT-R, then Toyota can and should too. I have made a graphic of all the size and price differences of all the cars referenced, along with the Lexus LFA, the one time supercar from the brand. A larger, more powerful, dare I say better looking Supra should have been the goal from the start.

I don’t have the IS500 on here, and the FRS is very hard to find anymore. It has the same dimensions as the 86 and BRZ. Click on the chart to see it in full size.

When it comes to power, I know the plan to put a V8 in the new 2022 Lexus IS500 had to have been around when the Supra was conceived. Maybe? Either way, when the Nissan GT-R went from a straight six to a V6, people didn’t complain THAT much. If Toyota planned to put a 5.0 V8 in a Supra, these things would be selling faster than they could be made. None of the new Supra makes any sense to me. There was so much potential and while the car is incredibly popular, it really didn’t meet what I thought could have happened. Granted, I did like it at launch, and I still am a fan. It just doesn’t seem like a Supra in the sense that it doesn’t compete with anything that the original did, or perceived to do. Perception is very important. Potential is also important. The Supra should have been a GT-R competitor, built in house, based off the RC, with a V8 engine. Toyota should have done all that on a budget and gave every 5.0 Ford Mustang owner a run for their money.

The RC looks so good in my opinion. It is the perfect start for a Supra. Plus, it can be all wheel drive. This one was.

The next big car thing

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What could be the next big automotive trend? There are so many out there and there can be so many ahead of us. Some might transition into something different, some might go away, and some new things might spring up. Here are two quick things that I think might happen within the next 3 years.

Safari outfitting seems to be picking up in popularity. Having that process done to the most normal of cars, like a Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, or Ford Fusion, that would be something that might happen, but it isn’t an every person common thing to do, so if it were big, it would be only within the automotive community enthusiasts. Similar to that, the YouTube channel B is for Build is creating an off-road Lamborghini. That reminds me of the battle cars/baja/safari movement that is around and seems to come and go. But as customization pushes its limits in downforce and speed, a whole new door is opening up in the off road segment.

The other trend that might go big, as crazy as this sounds, is retro micro car comeback. Swapping high horsepower motor cycle engines or just straight up beastly car engines into 1990s Ford Tempos, Geo Metros, and other insanely small cars from the 80s, 90s and early 00s. I just get that inclination from seeing not one, but two Ford Festivas and a Geo Metro lately. It makes me think that these will come back around again. Then people will give them high horsepower, combined with retro charm, and light weight, it is a recipe for insanity, which is exactly what the internet thrives on.

Many iDenties

Recently I began watching Initial D. It is a cool anime about a high schooler who unknowingly is the best drifter in his region of Japan. While I can do without all the high school drama, the cars and drift scenes are awesome.

The cars are a huge factor in the show, obviously. Watching it nearly 20 years after it was made, it is entertaining to see how the characters ogle the vehicles that were for their time, absolute monsters. They have Mazda RX-7s, Nissan Skylines, and many others.

Then there is the lone hero car. He drives a 10 year old car at the time, a Toyota AE86. In the United States, that car is known as an “A E 86”. The eight and six are said in numeric form as “eighty six”. In the show, they constantly refer to it as an “eight six.” They do the same for other cars as well, like the Nissan GT-R 32. In the States, we refer to it as an “R 32” or again, numeric format of “thirty two”, where as they refer to it as a “three two”. That fascinated me enough to write this blog.

Maybe it all comes down to region. In the United States, “pop”, “soda”, and “Coke”, all mean the same thing, a carbonated soft drink. It just depends on where you are. I’m curious, what other things in the automotive world are referred to differently in different countries or regions? Please let me know all the cool stuff from where you are from!

How hard is it to buy and sell?

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Not too long ago, heading to eBay and Craigslist were the two big ways to find a car online. As fees go up, and sadly Craigslist now has them, where do you go to find a good used car, especially from a private party seller? As a seller, where do you go to post a car to find a buyer?

I am not versed in this area at all. I simply have a quick opinion about it. When Craigslist came out with the fee to post a vehicle, the next free option was Facebook Marketplace. That was a great option until recently. Now, Facebook has all sorts of filters that make it very difficult to find a vehicle. For example, two vehicles that I like to look for are Jeep Grand Wagoneers and Porsche 944s. Neither are an option to filter by when you select model under those makes. When you do an open ended search it doesn’t pull up very relevant stuff. I am not sure if those models can be entered. It just gets frustrating. eBay Motors also used to be glorious, but that is also not the best way to find cars either. At this time, the best way I have found to find cars is AutoTempest. But, while the results are satisfying in quantity, it can be tedious to go through them. A note to make as well is that while you can filter for all sorts of features you want, there is actually no way to filter out features you DON’T want. If you are trying to find something without heated seats, there really isn’t a good way to find a car that doesn’t have that. You have to go one by one. Lastly, as if trying to find a car isn’t hard enough with all these factors, there is the issue that you are never going to find the correct car from the start. According to Jalopnik, an issue appears to be happening with Toyota Supras that are showing as 6 cylinder cars on AutoTrader, when in fact they are 4 cylinder cars. A website can only display what information is entered, at least…I think. At the time of this writing, there was not a response as to why this was happening.

Then, you have the buying side of things. Oh my goodness. As if it wasn’t hard enough to FIND the vehicle you want, now you have to deal with PEOPLE. Egos flair, information is withheld, paperwork is tedious, time is wasted, it is seriously just the most aggravating process ever. I’ve never bought a car from a dealer, but I’ve heard it is an absolute drain. But, I am almost certain that sometimes dealing with private party buyers or sellers is just as insane.

What really hit me as an eye opener to how even as a car person, I am now not interested in buying or selling cars, was a conversation I had with a friend the other day about buying and selling cars. This friend indicated that their car was getting older, it has miles on it, and they would potentially be in the market for a newer, but still used car, in the very near future. They said they would simply shop at CarMax and trade in their current vehicle for the newer one. Now, almost all car enthusiasts would suggest against this. I have grown up being taught to drive your car until the wheels fall off, or to private party sell your car because you can get more money. But…after I started thinking about it, from all the points I have mentioned above, I realize why that is a bad idea. Especially for a non car person to try to private party sell their vehicle.

I was tasked to sell a friends vehicle one time. They gave me a price they wanted to get and told me any price above that, I could keep. I also had roughly a 30 day time frame to sell. Let’s just say I am not a salesman. I did manage to sell it. However, it was only at the price that the friend wanted and I barely got rid of it in 30 days. While there are factors that can be part of that, like the car itself, I still didn’t do nearly as well as I had hoped I would have done.

In the end, I think CarMax and trading in your vehicle is a great idea. It can save you time and headache. You might think you are doing yourself a favor by trying to sell your car yourself. But, think of all the time, effort, and materials you are putting into that, to create the listing, prepare the car, deal with calls and emails and texts with stupid questions and non showing interested parties, and absolutely insulting low offers. Do you really want to deal with all of that? Just…think about it.

I Like My Cars Medium Rare

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After a year like 2020, I started to ponder things for 2021. Most particularly, what makes a car rare? Is it production numbers? Is it trim levels? Who cares about trim? Options? Price? Brand? Color? Where it was made? Number of units sold? Number of units intended to have been produced? Perceived popularity?

Does anyone care about any of that? What do people care about when it comes to a rare vehicle?

Everyone wants a chase car. That is more than likely why Ferrari and Lamborghini will always be highly sought after rather than some bizarre 2004 Buick Regal GSX stage 3 with a supercharged 6 cylinder engine and front wheel drive. But, some of those cars can have far fewer numbers produced than a six figure priced car. So what is more rare? What is more desirable? As the Tootsie Pop commercial says, the world may never know.

I recently saw a 1999 Dodge Durango Carroll Shelby edition for sale on Facebook Marketplace. It is number 53 of only 300 ever made. In your opinion, how impressive is this? The 1999 Dodge Durango is not exactly the most amazing vehicle every built. In the normal world, people do not know who Carroll Shelby was, so is having a Durango built by his shop really that impressive? Is that a flex to normal people? Is that even a flex to automotive enthusiasts? It really is completely up to the individuals. Both the one who owns it and the one or ones who are observing the vehicle. Personal taste is everything and I like all cars, no matter what. I like my cars medium rare.

Should Models be Brands?

 

The subject of should models become brands has been relevant and important lately. I have had conversations with family and friends about the subject since some have texted me wondering why certain car manufacturers are doing certain business decisions. So, here is my take on should car models become brands.

In 2009, Dodge/Chrysler/Daimler/FCA split off the Ram pickup truck from Dodge and created their own brand from that model. That has been a very successful decision. Hyundai has split Genesis off into its own luxury brand, copying a page from Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti recipe, but also making a brand from a model. Chevrolet has rumored that they might consider making the Corvette a brand in itself. Manufacturers have split models into brands in the past, some have success and some were a failure.

Now, Ford wants to make a Mustang a brand, starting with the all-electric SUV, the Mach E. There is also a rumor that they want to make the Bronco a brand as well. Although, what doesn’t make sense is how they use the Raptor nameplate. They utilize that name for the F-150 Raptor, and Ranger Raptor, but apparently that name will not be utilized to distinguish a more powerful Bronco. A beefy Bronco is rumored to be called a Warthog. Confusing, but whatever.

What Ford should learn though, is they have almost been in this situation before. They had Mercury, that they closed because they couldn’t seem to explain to buyers why they should pay more for a car that is identical to the Ford equivalent. Lincoln almost had the same fate. Hopefully, they have learned from those experiences and don’t mess up a new Mustang or Bronco brand. Toyota and Subaru are also the same boat. They had the Toyota 86, the Subaru BRZ, and the Scion FRS all on the market at one time. And now they are almost doing the same thing, but instead of the Scion available, the Supra has taken that slot. We will have to see how this goes. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Nissan does this with their Z car. Especially with the launch of the new 400Z. The Z name is known by people both with and without automotive knowledge so that would be a good start for them.

What do you think? Should auto manufacturers start making separate brands from their successful models?

Panther Popularity

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My parents in law have recently purchased a 2004 Lincoln Town Car. In reality, that “recent” was actually back in May. That is how long it has taken me to get to finishing this blog. Since that time, I have been noticing the rise of the Panther platform popularity.

The Panther platform is a frame that the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car are all attached to. It has been around for a long time and has been produced in the millions. It is somewhat easy to work on and parts are plentiful. Since they are easily found for cheap at public auctions after their public service has come to an end, these cars are an inexpensive, reliable vehicle to add to your garage.

I recently watched one of Cleetus McFarlands YouTube about preparing for the 2.4 hours of LeMullets. They have over 20 Ford Crown Victorias competing and over 50 in inventory. They have even have a full time Crown Vic mechanic. The internet has complained to him that he is single handedly causing the prices of these cars to increase. Cleetus says he is not and I believe him. These cars are just becoming popular in general and finding really clean examples is becoming difficult. YouTubers are using these cars left and right. A long while back on Hot Rod Garage, they took an old F150 and put it on a panther platform Crown Victoria.

I have grown to really like these cars. Especially for the straight up utilitarian use that they were made for. Those raw, simple characteristics, along with the sheer amount of them that were produced at a current, relatively cheap price are what attract me to the Panther platform vehicles.

While they are cheap, I still can’t quite afford one. I have resorted buying diecast versions. They are cheap and fun. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford a real one. Owning a big cat sounds fun. For the time being, I’ll just have to take my in-laws Town Car for a spin when I visit

The Byron Bet

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I wish I had gone to a university that sponsored a NASCAR team.

After Jeff Gordon departed from NASCAR, the number 24 car was left open in the Rick Hendrick stable. While Chase Elliott was chosen to fill that seat immediately, everyone knew Chase would go on to pilot the 9, like his dad, so everyone wondered who would eventually take the wheel of the 24. When the dust settled and the ink dried, William Byron, at the age of 20, was going to be driving the iconic number 24 Chevrolet Camaro.

Now, after 2 years, he has no wins, only 22 top 10 finishes, and 5 poles. Sadly, he has not been all that successful even though he has Chad Knaus as his crew chief. Chad helped another driver at Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, win seven championships. William has the best racing equipment money can buy with one of the best crew chiefs and yet he can’t seem to put it all together to get the car to victory lane.

William reminds me of the third Cars movie. He is very good at virtual racing and training on simulators. We saw during the hiatus that he is clearly good at iRacing. He won twice during the break for the pandemic. But, he isn’t quite like the Cars movie in regard to the digital talent translating to the real-life track. Maybe he should simply stick to virtual racing? NASCAR might be branching off in that direction someday sooner rather than later, and he could be a star that transitions from real life to virtual.

I don’t want to speak ill of him though. He might simply be in a situation like Joey Lagano was. Even though Joey had top tier equipment at JGR in his first few years, he certainly wasn’t showing the results of having it. Once he moved to Penske, he has won numerous times and even has a championship to his name. Could Byron still be getting his legs in the sport, and need to move to a different team to experience success? Only time will tell with that. but I do think that this might be the case. I think he still needs time and potentially a new team or manufacturer in order to start experiencing success. That is what I am betting on. The real question will be if he will ever leave Hendrick?

Lastly, but more of a side note. Byron attends Liberty University, that also sponsors him. I wonder if he pays tuition? I am also somewhat jealous because I went to Regent University, a rival to Liberty. Regent is not anywhere near Liberty in regard to campus size, student population, sports, or anything else, except maybe the televangelists that founded each of them, and they are both in Virginia. I would have loved to have gone to a school that sponsored a NASCAR team, even if it was a non-winning driver.