“”By partnering with Volkswagen on the Fender Premium Audio System, we are creating a unique partnership with a truly innovative company allowing us to deliver a product that is as unique, expressive and dynamic as the customers who use it,” said Mark Van Vleet, Senior Vice President, Business Affairs for Fender.
Well, that may be… but do Volkswagen and Fender really want to be associated with each other? I can think of one solid reason why the two brands should have mucho distancia, hombre…
Volkswagen and rock music have been connected in the American mind for a long time, with the nadir perhaps being John Mayer pimping a genuinely horrible buy-an-ugly-Beetle-get-a-ugly-guitar deal in 2006. Still, this tie-up with Fender, which has been in the works for the past three years, doesn’t exactly spark the imagination.
To begin with, Fender is the low-fi American guitar brand, both in the music their guitars are typically used to play and their distortion-heavy amplifiers. Furthermore, there’s no actual “Fender” in the Fender sound systems; the speakers are made by Panasonic. Last but not least, the typical VW customer is far more likely to be listening to “A State Of Trance” than she would be to crank up some Jimi Hendrix or Buddy Guy.
With that said, there is one thing that Fender and Volkswagen have in common, although they’d both prefer you not think too much about it. The photo that heads this column is of my 2009 Fender American Standard Stratocaster and an old key for my 2006 VW Phaeton. Two iconic creations: the all-American guitar and an uber-luxury sedan straight of der Vaterland, right? Problem is, the bulk of Fender’s production actually comes from their Ensenada facility, while Volkswagen’s “German Engineered” mass-market cars are assembled a few thousand klicks south in Puebla. Fender and Volkswagen: Hecho In Mexico, baby!