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

nbt

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.

I Like My Cars Medium Rare

medium rare

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?

The Byron Bet

the-byron-bet
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.

The True Cost of Hot Wheel Hunting

tcohwh

Face it, hunting for Hot Wheels, as addicting and as much of a rush as it can be, takes a lot of time. As the saying goes, time is money. You might be wondering, how much money does the Hot Wheel hobby cost? Time to do that math!

Let’s keep everything well rounded and easy for this example. If you have a job, you get paid for your time to do the work.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. So, at minimum, your time hunting costs at least that, even if it is your hobby. You have to approach it from this angle because if you aren’t earning money, you need to know how much your time would be worth if you were earning money.

Next, according to AAA, the average annual cost of owning a vehicle in 2019 was $9,282 a year, or $773.50 a month. That is $25.78 a day and $1.07 an hour. If you consider Hot Wheel hunting as a job of sorts, you might also want to consider the federal cost per mile rate, which is currently 57.5 cents per mile. That would be money you could be getting if you were not working for yourself. Otherwise, this doesn’t exactly fit into the equation because if one is using their own car, I believe the AAA rate accounts for the cost per mile in the ownership.

Hot Wheels cars can range in price. But, lets just take the mainline cars, and give them a rounded price of exactly $1.00. This example will be for just a single car

The equation is this: cost of time + cost of Hot Wheels + cost of car ownership = true cost to hunt Hot Wheels

If you spent 1 hour hunting for 1 Hot Wheel, the true cost of that car to you would be $7.25 + $1.00 + $1.07 = $9.32

Clearly those numbers can be adjusted accordingly. If the time is less or greater, if the amount of cars are more, and if you go to out to hunt multiple times a week. Even though you are paying a somewhat fixed price for the cost of ownership for your vehicle, the example is only using the average. That cost can technically be higher or lower as well.

So, that means you have to sell your $1 car for $9.32 and that still won’t get you to the break even point. Then there there is the second part of the equation.

The second part is selling and shipping and supplies.

Fees to post on eBay, use Paypal, and have shipping supplies can sometimes run up to 50% of the total cost. So, to sell that $1 car, to break even just from hunting for it, you have to sell it at $9.32. But if you don’t want to take a loss with fees and shipping and supplies, you would have to put the price up to about $15 dollars. That begins to make it a hard buy for someone who might hunt these cars themselves, and doesn’t make $15 an hour at a job. If you make more than $15 an hour, it still is hard buy when you only get 1 car. You might as well go spend an hour hunting and find 15 cars.

It is very hard to make money from buying mainline Hot Wheels on the pegs and reselling them online. There is money to be made, but you have to hunt, you have to hustle, and you have to work very, very hard. You also have to get a hold of cars that can turn higher profits, such as Super Treasure Hunts, or joining the Red Line Club and buy and flip those cars. I will say though, 100% profit is 100% profit, whether you make a dollar profit off a dollar car, or a $30 profit off a $30 dollar car, math is math. You just have to decide what is worth while to you.

Scalpers: Those Pesky People who get to the Pegs First

for blog about scalpers

The word scalper according to Google is defined as “a person who resell shares or tickets at a large or quick profit” If you are familiar with the Hot Wheels hobby, you have no doubt heard this word used often. It is not a word or person that someone wants to be…or is it?

I think the true issue people have is this. They are mad at “scalpers” which really means anyone who finds cars on the pegs at a store before they do. I saw a post on social media the other day about how crappy a person’s day was because they walked into a store just to have someone pull a super treasure hunt out of a case right in front of their eyes. When it is all about the super treasure hunts, there really isn’t a lot of depth to the hunt or hobby at that point. Especially if you consider yourself to have the rest of your day deemed bad because of it. This is silly to me. Pallet raiders and door warmers and the over used term “scalper” are just ways to blame others for something you can’t control.

Hot Wheel hunting is a very time consuming, expensive, repetitive, tedious, and patience practicing hobby. I’ve seen so many people get into the hobby at full throttle only to get worn out, frustrated, and low on funds in a matter of 6 to 9 months because they did not understand what they were about to get themselves into. Many people are considering this an investment hobby as well. Now days there are so many stories of childhood toys worth thousands of dollars tucked away in closets and attics. People create value and things get expensive for a time, but everything is cyclical. Those of us who have been in the hobby for more that a few years, in many cases, decades, just learn to be patient.

A number of months ago, a video was going around the internet showing the popular author, entrepreneur, and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk attending a garage sale. The part I am referencing starts at 11:54 and goes to 15:07. Here is a quick clip on Instagram if you don’t want to watch the whole thing linked above. In the video, he came across a tub full of diecast cars, haggled a bit with the sellers, and then purchased the lump sum. He then went back to his car and quickly Googled some of the cars in his recent purchase to find that some of them were worth already more than what he paid for the bunch.

At first I found myself very angry at that video. Now every person who owns any diecast car is going to think they have some gem worth something expensive and make the diecast hobby that much more expensive, cluttered, and inflated. Plus all these people are only doing it for the money. They aren’t into it for the collecting or the way the cars make them feel.

Then I started thinking about it more and realized it’s not a big deal. If you have a product that you can somehow find a buyer to buy it for more than you did, props to you. I do that. When I have found a fresh case on the pegs before anyone else, I will buy all the cars I want, and if I have extra, I will sell, trade, or give them away. I wouldn’t consider myself a “scalper.” It just comes with the hobby. The only issue it really creates is that now, if you are really into the hobby, the prices of things become incredibly inflated. But that is a cycle. Once people realize that it is not the most lucrative thing because you have to work hard and hustle, prices will get back to acceptable rates. You just have to be patient.

We watch people on TV flip all kinds of things. Between Flip or Flop on HGTV, Fast N’Loud on Discovery, or an old school favorite like Pawn Stars, all of these shows teach people how “lucrative” flipping or buying and reselling can be. But not everyone is cut out for that and not everyone has the skill, talent, work ethic, or patience to do that. In the end, if you really want something, you’ll have your own opinions on how to get it and at what price. When it comes to selling, it is the same thing. That cycle is what keeps the economy rolling along. For all of those people who have found their niche and are sticking with it, they will know how to be patient and play the long game. That is when the most work, the most fun, and the most profit all start to coincide and true enthusiast has been made.

Dyson Ditched Car Making

dyson
2 and a half years later, my shirt is the same but my prediction was completely wrong.

Two and a half years ago, there were reports that Dyson was going to be working on an electric vehicle. I made a video and a blog on September 28th, 2017 where I covered the topic briefly and predicted that Dyson would have a concept on the road before a Tesla semi would be on the road. That was one terrible prediction on my part. Tesla 1, Brentton 0.

Autoweek ran an article recently that explained how the founder of Dyson spent $609 million of his own money on the electric car project, only to find out that in order to simply break even, the car would have to be sold for $180,000. If this isn’t proof that profitability in transportation and mobility services is almost near impossible, I don’t know what more you could ask for.

While I am sad that Dyson abandoned the project, and let me down on my prediction, I can also understand and respect the choice. I want to step out of the auto industry for just a moment to provide an example of high cost, low profit projects. Recently, my wife has been looking into creating a point and click video game for PC and mobile. When you add up the cost of software, talent (if you can’t do everything yourself), time, materials, a somewhat simple game can start off anywhere from 3 to 5 thousand dollars to make. People pay for quality games. In order to turn a profit, we would most likely have to sell the game for $10 which might price out our audience. If we sold it at a $1, we would need to sell over 10,000 copies to turn some small profit. We don’t know if we have an audience that large. So, after counting up all the associated costs, and estimating and understanding the industry a little more, it is not surprising that large game studios spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce a top tier game, like The Last of Us or Forza or Fifa. Then, in order to make any sort of profit, there is a reason those games are nearly $80 at launch, even with the quantities they sell them in. The cost to produce video games is an upfront, staggering cost.

Hopefully that will help shed light on just how hard it is for these EV automotive start-up companies to produce a product. The industry is cut throat and expensive. No one works for free. If you can’t turn a profit you won’t stay in business. And for what it is worth, Tesla is barely profitable. Elon can get an Eskimo to buy ice in the arctic and has had investors pour millions into Tesla. If everyone wanted their return on investment right now, the company would cease to exist.