Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Tarnished Silver Bullet

There's been a ton of talk recently of a miraculous silver bullet for our energy dependency needs. I'll admit, I too was sucked into the enthusiasm for ethanol. Who wouldn't want to snatch the leverage right from the hands of the OPEC nations? But recently more information is being exposed about the trade-offs involved. Here is an interesting discussion of said trade-offs.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Inadvertant Body Doubles

It amazes me how often car companies make the mistake of introducing two cars that have nothing to do with each other, but which the general public assumes are just rebadged versions of the same machine. Okay, I guess I should modify that. Right now it's mostly Nissan that's doing it. It started with the Murano and Infiniti FX, which came out around the same time.

Because of their similar shapes and release timing, most people just figured they were the same vehicle, especially when they never saw them side-by-side. They even had basically the same featured color, rust orange. To more knowledgeable car fans, it was obvious this wasn't the case, due to the Nissan's front-drive layout vs. the Infiniti's rear setup.

Now Nissan is attempting to damage the G37 by introducing an Altima coupe with many of the same styling cues. The same principle goes for these two regarding FWD and RWD, but most consumers don't know the difference, so odds are the G37 will be called a "glorified Altima" by many a layperson.
The funniest example of this was when Mercedes debuted the R-Class, and my old boss insisted that it was just a rebadged Pacifica. Once again, back to the whole FWD/RWD thing. But maybe that's the reason there are so many of those damn ugly things stacked up at Merc dealers.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blind Loyalty

I've been giving some thought to my loyalties since starting this new job early last month. At the ad agency, my only client was Ford. I'd never been the biggest fan of domestic cars, but I also happen to be the kind of person who develops loyalties quite easily. As soon as I started there, my perspective changed, and I began to root for Ford hard core. I also started to drink the Kool Aid, giving FoMoCo the benefit of the doubt in terms of product quality and appeal. Most people would do this at least to some extent, so I guess it's nothing unique. But I probably lost perspective a bit too much.

I also gained an unnatural hatred for certain competitive products. Mind you, it wasn't out of control. I still appreciated that the Corvette was one of the best performance values on the market, for example. But I would write off vehicles like the new Challenger and Camaro, thinking that they'd never be as cool as the Mustang.

I must say, it's quite a load off to not feel constrained in this way anymore. In my new position, I do projects for nearly every OEM, so there's not much chance of an unwarranted bias. I'm free to love and hate vehicles with utter abandon.

Interestingly enough, I also don't feel quite the disappointment anymore about the sale of Aston Martin. I thought of it as the crown jewel in the Ford empire, and I was sad to see it go. I felt like I was losing my personal connection with the brand. But no longer do I think of it as my losing Aston. The brand and its heritage are the property of the car enthusiast world in my eyes, and it can be as much a part of me as it ever was.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The sweetest color combo...EVER

For years I've been futilely attempting to convince friends to buy silver cars with red leather interiors. Sure, silver is popular, but they obviously balk at the red leather part. This combo isn't available in most cars, but many roadsters do offer a red leather option. The car I hope to own eventually is a Porsche 356 with just such a color scheme. Here's a model of said car (it's the best pic I can find of the car).

It clearly looks awesome, but I understand that it's a difficult plunge to take. The interior color of your car is something you have to live with every day. This post is, I guess, an effort to spread the gospel of this color combo. The way I see it, the more silver roadsters with red leather there are in the world, the more beautiful a place it will be. To that effect, here are some more great looking cars.

So now that it's completely clear that I'm right about this, do the world a favor and go out and buy a silver convertible with red leather. Just don't get a 356. I don't want you having the same car as me!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A Designer's Brain Fart

Well, I've got some down time from work, so I thought I'd add more uninformed opinion to the blogosphere. I was just looking at some shots of the new 9-3 SportCombi, and it was a big relief to see that Saab has spared this car the indignity suffered by the 9-5 with its latest rework. It baffles my mind how car companies can put something on the road that is so flat-out ugly. Sales of the 9-5 have been on the outs since the intro of the redone svelte, attractive and spacious 9-3. So it's only natural that GM would try to reinvigorate the model with the slick rework.
Well, this was not the way to do it. I don't think there's much I need to say about this design, though maybe I'll just add the thought that it's trying WAY too hard, and that if you haven't seen it, believe me, it's even less attractive in person. And take a gander at the rear end. Nowhere in this part of the design is there anything that might be called "coherence".

It's true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I guess maybe I should ask one of the 243 Americans who bought one in April.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Teeming Masses

Trying to do a bit a recon for a consulting project I'm working on, I decided to pick my roommate's brain a bit. "What comes to mind when you think of Acura?" I asked.

Blank stare.

"Okay, what models do you think of for Acura?"

"Um, they have that RSX, right?" (It's actually been dropped.)

"Anything else?"

"I think they had a really expensive sports car; it was pretty cool lookin'."

"The NSX, right. Have you heard of the Legend?"


"How 'bout the Integra, [our friend] Kim's car?"

"Oh, right, yeah, I guess that's an Acura, too."

"Ever heard of the RL, TL, TSX?"

More blank stares.

Okay, so every once in a while, I need to be grounded, realizing that most people--even my roommate, who actually has a semi-interest in cars--have no idea what the hell is out there. I have to be reminded that to others, Acura's current lineup is as familiar as the current lineup of Steve Maddens is to me.

Okay, I actually really hope this is complete hyperbole, since cars tend to be more conspicuous than shoes. But the point is there. It's good to talk to people who don't share my interest in cars. It's also nice to have friends who, though they may not have much knowledge of the car market, always at least seem to be interested in what I have to say about it.

That is all.