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Viagra, Drooping Decklids, Man As Endangered Species

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Viagra, Drooping Decklids, Man As Endangered Species

By Jack Baruth

[Op-Ed] Forget what you saw during the Super Bowl; “Man’s Last Stand” is far more likely to take place behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz CLS, Porsche Panamera, or new Audi A7. Men like these cars, and we’re only seeing the opening salvo of “four-door coupes.” Just as the original Ford Explorer kicked off a supernova of SUV proliferation, the success of the original CLS virtually ensured that imitators would multiply like rabbits throughout the marketplace.

The industry’s original SUV fetish was based on a simple equation, namely “pickup truck plus permanent cap equals big profit,” but after fifteen years or so, the market finally decided that enough was enough. Most of today’s “SUVs” are unibody wagons, priced and equipped more or less in line with their sedan counterparts. There’s a little more profit in a Pilot than there is in a V6 Accord, but compared to the orgasmic festival of unjustified markup known as the Honda Passport, there ain’t much to cheer about. Same goes for the Highlander, the Traverse, and the new Explorer.

Four-door coupes, on the other hand…

The 2011 Mercedes E550 costs $56,850. The 2010 Mercedes CLS550 costs $72,400, and you can bet the new one won’t be a penny cheaper. The mechanicals are the same, the construction costs are the same, and the equipment is basically the same. Guess which one the people at Stuttgart would rather sell you? That’s right — the car with as much as twenty Gs of additional profit baked right into the ticket.

Not a single one of these cars is based on a bespoke platform; from the lowly (and cheap) Passat CC to the Aston Martin Rapide, they are all what the insiders call “top hats,” new bodies on existing models. In the case of the Rapide, it draws heavily on the DB9. As for the Passat CC, well, you know that one. Even the Panamera spawns from Porsche’s Cayenne, using the same engines and some of the same engineering as the much cheaper truck. Never mind the fact that the Cayenne itself is a higher-profit variant of the Touareg. You get the picture. There’s gold in those low rooflines.

Take Audi’s relatively affordable entry-level sedan as a recent example. The transformation goes something like this: A4 goes in… A5 Sportback comes out, packed with marketing and markup. Surely it can’t cost any more to make an A5 than it costs to make an A4. If it does cost any more, it’s a minor cost having to do with a complicated hatchback stamping or flared fenders. But Audi still charges $2,000 to $5,000 more than the equivalent A4 (the exact figure varies depending on the country of sale).

Who’s paying the price for these “coupes?” My conversations with manufacturer reps indicate that the customers are overwhelmingly male, married, and successful. These are the guys who used to buy Corvettes in the Seventies, who chose BMW 3-Series coupes in the Eighties, and who lined up for the first group of body-on-frame SUVs in the Nineties. Now they’re lining up for sedans with lower roofs.

Notice anything in that progression, from Corvette to CLS? Exactly. The testosterone level is dropping with each successive change in fashion. The CLS63 AMG, in particular, bit deep into Porsche’s 911 customer base, no doubt making it easy for them to justify inflicting the Panamera on the world. Now the man who wants a “me car” but is too timid, diffident, or henpecked to simply buy a real Porsche can run out and buy a sedan that will meet with his wife’s approval.

This seems to be an upper-middle-class phenomenon. Notice how the balls-out macho Camaro beat the Mommy-may-I Pontiac G8 in sales numbers despite the Camaro having literally no redeeming virtues compared to the big Poncho. And we see Ford contemplating a low-roof Fusion variant to steal Mustang sales from itself. Honda isn’t running out to coo-pay the Acura TL into a four-door CL, possibly because doing so would make the TL’s beak look even more frightful. This game is for rich people, which means it’s mostly a German thing.

For those of us who own, drive, and love German cars, there’s a definite possibility that the four-door coupes will drive out the real coupes in future generations. I don’t want to replace my S5 coupe with an S5 Sportback. If I wanted a four-door hatch, I’d buy an old Saab. Nor do I want to see the 911 gradually give way to a mini-Panamera and a micro-Cayenne. As hopeless as the current 6-Series BMW is, I would be furious if Munich decided to forget about replacing it and simply expected the X6 and the 5-Series GT to cover the gap with their monstrous shadows.

What we need to do here is to pump up the “man factor” for our suburban men and the German automakers who serve them. If the market won’t do it, the government will have to. Once President Obama appoints me the “testosterone czar”, I will implement the following changes: All golf courses will be immediately torn down and replaced with circle tracks. Wearing Crocs will be punishable by death. If your kid is named “Conor,” we’re legally renaming him “Killer.” The CIA will resurrect Ike Turner and use him to replace Whoopi Goldberg on “The View.” Last but not least, if you are found behind the wheel of a four-door coupe, some black-balaclava’d FBI “Hostage Rescue Team” guy is going to kick your ass and the government will seize your vehicle. Don’t worry; it will be replaced by a Corvette Grand Sport six-speed.

Will my program help? It can’t do anything about the Germans themselves, but I don’t think we need to get them too fired up. The last time that happened, somebody had to invent the P-51 Mustang. Note: when a solution was needed to make the P-51 more bad-ass, they didn’t make it bigger or add extra doors; they put two of them together, called the resulting weapon the “F-82 Twin Mustang.” That’s America, right there!

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/viagra-drooping-decklids-man-as-endangered-species-op-ed.html

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I am glad someone other than people here understand the horse doo-doo German manufacturers are throwing on people to keep themselves relevant and profitable.

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