Years ago, a coworker constructed a sinister device. Inside of a RadioShack project box he attached a capacitor, a battery, and a 120 decibel personal alarm. On the outside he attached a simple on/off switch, and a button he labeled “Do Not Press.” He would leave this in conspicuous places, and invariably, someone would pick it up, turn on the power, and press the button despite clear instructions to the contrary. The alarm would shriek and the capacitor ensured that once the power was applied, the alarm could not be turned off until you accessed a hidden reset port with a straightened paper clip to interrupt the circuit. As sinister of a prank as this was, it played upon a human trait; people, especially men, enjoy pressing a button that they’re told not to touch.
If you haven’t heard, in order to appeal to their demographic (save your snarky comments, I AM their demographic), the 2015 Ford Mustang will have a line lock switch available that will hold the front brakes and allow the rears to smoke the tires at will. Just typing that makes me giggle a little. The option is engaged through the track apps menu.
Oh but as you are enjoying that video, take look at the small print that appears immediately at the bottom of the screen; “Professional driver on a closed course. Racing your vehicle will void your warranty.” The discussion in the video is pointing out this is for the Mustang owner who wants to run their car at the local drag strip. I.E, it is an intended feature for the Mustang GT owner who wants to race their car.
When the E46 M3 debuted with the SMG, the Internet was abuzz with a super-secret code launch control, a series of switches and actions roughly akin to Mario Brothers cheat codes. The engine would rev, the brakes would hold and the clutch would drop. The owner was rewarded with a tire-smoking, neck-snapping, launch as the M3 hurled into the future. The internet spurred rumors of null warranties, technician shenanigans and dealer witch hunts. The conspiracy theory held the belief the computer inside the M3 would track how many times this it happened, and anything more than eight would void the warranty on your German super touring sedan.
The theories were not without precedent. Mitsubishi dealers were accused of trolling SCCA results and voiding the warranties of Evo customer’s cars, and Subaru was also called out for doing the same with WRX buyers. A close buddy was told by his service tech to pull the SCCA inspection sticker off his doorjamb before the senior manager saw it.
Then Nissan introduced Godzilla, complete with what became known as the “void warranty” selection on the center console. A class action lawsuit later, and Nissan came revised to the launch control software and plaintiffs were rewarded with a free oil change.
And now, Ford has their “burnout button.”
When engaged locked the front brakes and allows the rear tires to break traction in order to dust them off and heat them up for a optimized drag launch. In the aforementioned fine print, engagement in racing will void your warranty.
Bait and switch? Shady practices? Hardly. Ford is merely engaging and the latest series of marketing that Nissan learned. The launch control button created mystique, added to the legend and probably moved some cars. Ford understands and it goes all the way back to my friend’s little cruel plastic Joke.
It is mystery and magic. The “I wonder what will happen” factor. Invariably when the 2015 Mustang GT hits the market, the Internet will swell with stories of service technicians using the burnout button and rendering the warranties of customer’s cars useless. How many of these will actually be the customers blaming it on the service department and how many these will be real events?
It doesn’t matter. Because all the talk is going to accomplish one primary goal for Ford, sell Mustangs. Heck, it will probably sell Fiesta’s.
I would expect to see more of this kind of optioning, rather than less. Because running deeper than our love of bloated SUVs, the need for a leather seats, navigation systems and top notch stereos; is a primordial desire to press a button.
Especially when we’re told not to.