Steve Lang just asked the question, Which Car Companies Do You Not Like… But Respect?. That brings to mind a related question, sort of an inverse on Christianity’s love the sinner, not the sin, attitude. What car companies that you don’t like make cars that you do like? I’m pretty sure that I can guess how our friend Mr. Baruth feels about Porsche the company, but the guy owns three of Zuffenhausen’s best.
His recent negative comparison of the new 911 to a classic 1970s air-cooled sports car of the same name isn’t going to make him any more friends in Stuttgart. Similarly, the UK’s Chris Harris got put on Ferrari’s fecal roll call after being honest about how Ferrari preps its
ringers press fleet cars, but even after he was made persona non grata in Maranello, and banned from their test cars Harris sold his Porsche and went out and bought a 599. Why? “Because I like the cars and I miss not driving the cars”.
I can’t afford either a Porsche or a Ferrari but I share some of Jack and Chris’ distaste for those companies while I’d be happy to drive many, if not most of their cars. A fool and his money are soon parted and someone savvy enough to have made enough coin to afford a six-figure car should hopefully be wise enough to not be exploited, but many of the behaviors of Ferrari and Porsche seem quite exploitative of their well-heeled clientele. Not just exploitative, but condescending as well. It’s almost as though they are doing people favors by selling them a car – Ferrari is particularly odious in that regard. I don’t know how true it is, but I’ve read that not just anyone can walk into a Ferrari dealership, plunk down some cash and drive out in a new car. It’s said that because of Porsche’s pricing and lack of a car below the Boxster that “an entry level Porsche is a used car”. It’s been alleged that that is close to Ferrari’s actual business model and that nobody gets to buy a new Ferrari without the approval of the home office in Italy. We already know that in the case of very limited production models, like the non-street legal FXX track cars, Ferrari decides who the lucky buyers would be. Lamborghini did the same with the 20 Reventons they built.
That patronizing attitude may turn off some affluent customers who are used to buying whatever they want. I know a couple of very wealthy car enthusiasts who are not happy with that attitude, even though one owns a Reventon and the other owns an Enzo. When I asked one of them how he felt about it, he said that he preferred the way Gulfstream takes orders on a new model private jet. A lottery determines build sequence and if the company finds out that a customer tries to buy their way up the waiting list, they’ll be blackballed from ever buying a new jet from the factory.
Playing favorites with customers, charging exorbitant prices on relatively mundane options, massaging their image in the media – all those things contribute to a company’s reputation just as the cars they make affect their image in people’s minds. So what brands have you loving their cars while loathing their makers?
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS