The last time I saw this car it lay bare and gutted in front of me. The seats had been pulled out, the dash taken apart and wires dangling. The carpets were in the process of being removed. All of this in an effort to find the source of an infestation that had plagued it.
Oh, Brazil. Not having the cars, the will or possibly the means to offer proper SUVs to customers back in the 90s, local makes did as the always do and improvised. Raise up the suspension, modify it (or not) as needed, insert bigger wheels, add lots of plastic cladding and graphics, and your pseudo-SUV common hatch or station wagon is magically transformed into an “aventureiro”.
Like it or not, compact SUVs, particularly B-segment vehicles, are the segment to be in right now. They may be anathema to enthusiasts in the developed world, but in developing markets, their is no hotter property. In Brazil, where the Renault Duster and Ford Ecosport have reigned supreme, the market has just gotten a bit more crowded.
And then came the 90s.
With democracy finally back, a new Constitution, and new economic ideas and policies forcing the market open, the slow pace of the 80s suddenly gave way to much friskier times. General Motors was the first to make use of the opportunities, they would import systems and brought on the best Opel had to offer. The Corsa was launched and soon had long waiting lists and people paying over list price. It followed Fiat’s plan, a small car with lots of color and accessory options. Two door and four doors. Soon, sedan, station wagon and a pickup version. All highly successful, all putting pressure on the Gol and derivatives. (Read More…)
There are a couple of things that mark Brazilians of all stripes. Football (the “real” world type) is surely one. There are many others. “Feijoada” is something almost every Brazilian loves, and the “caipirinha” drink has been a constant forever. However, things change. Brazilians now drink more beer than “cachaça” that is the basis for caipirinha and the city of São Paulo boast more sushi bars than Tokyo and eats more pizza than Rome, Milan and Turin combined.
As I pulled into the gas station last week, I faced a decision. Regular gasoline was on sale for R$3,199 a liter, while ethanol (or “álcool” as we old timers insist on calling it) was R$2,299. That meant the sugarcane derived fuel was 71.8% of the price of gasoline. Bearing in mind that gasoline in Brazil is actually E25 and will soon be E27, the rule of thumb is that if the price of ethanol is 70% that of gasoline, it compensates to pump it in spite of the mileage drop.
Walking up to the pearl white, Japanese-Brazilian, new Nissan March, I smile. Can’t help it. It looks so cute. Especially in this top-of-the-line version all prettied up, with the bigger (and good-looking) wheels and its funky design that though more grown up than before, is still playful. Plastichrome abounds and can be found in the front, sides and back. I instantly warm up to it, I want to like it.
How much is first place worth? How much difference would it make to you as an automaker to see a decades old tradition die? How much would you do to try to keep first place and how much would it hurt to see it all go away?
Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism.
Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in Frankfurt as the Antara GTC. Harley Earl may spin in his perfectly-proportioned grave…but I digress. (Read More…)
This was my first vacation in, like, ever. And it was supposed to be a break from cars. No driving, wrenching, writing, photographing! Stop looking at that Ford Versailles, don’t take a photo of that Renault, because car design is no vacation in such a beautiful place…right?
And then “my” Ford Ranger found me in Leblon. Oh, for the love of why did I walk down this street I can’t believe that stupid truck followed me from…