If you have a spare four minutes and four seconds (plus time for the commercial) take the time to check out the following discussion over at Bloomberg.com. As a layman, I find these kind of discussions very interesting and would like to hear the best and the brightest, many of whom I know to be connected with auto industry, give a little perspective to what seems to me to be a very shallow look on the subject of modern car design.
Last time we had a Challenger SRT8 to review, well, we didn’t review it so much as we burnt the rubber off the rear wheels. Sorry Dodge, we couldn’t help it. After a few Facebook requests, we put Dodge’s 470HP retro coupé back on our wish list and someone at Chrysler decided to trust me with their retro cruiser. If you couldn’t afford that Challenger in the poster on your wall when you were in college, click through the jump to find out what Dodge’s 470HP two-door is like to live with for a week before you throw down 45-large on this retro bruiser.
What was old has become new… again! After letting the old New Beetle languish on the market for a remarkable 13th year, VW has revisited its ’90s retro hit with a longer, lower, wider update on the new Jetta’s platform [The 2012 Beetle is 71.2 inches wide (3.3 inches wider), 58.5 inches tall (.5 inches lower) and 168.4 inches long (6 inches longer)]. The engine options are largely the same as the Jetta’, with TDI, 2.5 liter five-cylinder and 2.0 Turbo mills on offer, with a 200 HP range-topper offering an electronic limited-slip diff and dual-clutch gearbox.
Convertible and Hybrid versions should be coming down the pipe shortly, but for now all VW wants to talk about is the Beetle’s return to an original-style profile, its status as a “new original” and its ability to “respect the past while looking to the future.” Which is all well and good, but no matter how well the New New Beetle may tickle the Boomers’ retro sensibilities, it’s got nothing to to do with original Beetle’s values. If anything, the New New Beetle should do some of its best work by making at least a few sub-Boomers just a little bit nostalgic for the late 1990s, a simpler time when retro cars didn’t even have to be faithful to the original as long as they offered a plastic flower vase. Now those were some special times…
The first time VW showed a retro-inspired Van concept, they said they would build it but never did. Now, having shown a new, far smaller retro-inspired microvan [gallery here], VW says they will not only build the thing, but thanks to their modular MQB platform, they’ll be able to build variations of it for markets around the world. Though VW’s development honcho Ulrich Hackenberg insists the microvan won’t be built at VW’s new plant in Chattanooga, TN, he does tell Autocar that it will be sold in the US and
aimed at the XB produced by Toyota’s youth brand, Scion.
Which means it will be built in Mexico, alongside the New Beetle. And come to think of it, the New Bulli and New Beetle seem to have quite a bit in common: both trade heavily on heritage-inspired looks while having little (if anything) to do with their actual inspirations. Which means the Baby Boomers will love it.
What is it about former (or ostensible) communist leaders and retro limousines? China’s Hu Jintao got a tip of the hat from us last October for stepping out in style at the country’s National Day celebrations in a retro-fabulous Hongqi HQE. Now, The Guardian reports that
President Dmitry Medvedev has decided to trade in his Mercedes and bring back the ZiL, in what appears to be the latest attempt by Russia’s nostalgic leadership to turn the country into a Soviet theme park. Medvedev has asked aides to examine whether the austere and enduringly sinister limousine can be brought back into production.
And why not? After all, what’s more authentically Russian than being ferried through Red Square in an “enduringly sinister” vehicle made by a company that was at one time known as “Stalin’s Factory”? Is it too soon to ask about American-market availability?
Statistically speaking, it’s a little early to be ragging on the baby boomers. In addition to numerical advantages, the boomers also haven’t slipped fully into retirement, meaning mainstream culture will be stuck for a little longer in the era of unrepentantly rosy nostalgia. And though the pasturing of America’s second-greatest-by-default generation will be ruinous for little things like government entitlement programs, the benefits to important stuff like car design will be profound. Unlike subsequent generations, the baby boomers still had the privilege of living during the golden age of the automobile, a time before Detroit’s decline, the massive government regulation of safety and emission standards, and the general blandifying of the car. As a result, boomers bring a bizarrely retro-sensibility to the modern car market, not just for restored classics, and retro-muscle cars, but for the vehicles that brought an end to the era of Detroit Baroque. Which is where things get interesting.