Hammer Time: The Piper Principle

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Wrestling fans and auto enthusiasts have a lot in common. They can be sickeningly loyal to their favorites. Even when it’s obvious their one and only favorite is well past their prime. They also have a bit of a dopamine problem. Adrenalin, excitement, the thrill of seeing ‘their guy’ win the battles. It’s all there. Even for the boring ones. Whether it’s a Camry climbing up the sales chart. Or a 1988 Toyota MR2 carving up a modern day competitor over a mountain overpass. It’s a rush to see ‘your choice’ be the best choice. But then there’s the Piper Principle.

What about the brand that can’t sell cars to save their ass from first base? What about the company that goes bankrupt or leaves a market? Heck, what about Rowdy Roddy Piper?. For those who don’t know the guy, Piper is a funny and arrogant wise-ass whose verbal slights and coconut endorsements put him at the top of the wrestling business when roids were all the rage. He was funnier than hell, quirky, and probably drugged out of his mind. But the essence of Piper was that the more of a heel he became, the more you rooted for the guy. Piper was the guy you loved to hate… and once you got sick of the ‘good guys’, you rooted for him.

I look at certain models the same way I looked at Piper. The Chevy Volt seems to get a lot of haters these days. Why? Well…

“It’s not a Prius!”

“It’s not REALLY that economical if you drive it 200+ miles!”

“It doesn’t have a PC approved emblem at the front of it!”

“It’s subsidized by the taxpayers.” (Note: ALL automakers throughout the world are subsidized and given funds and resources by their respective governments.)

“It’s American, and American cars are crap! By the way, Steve? Can you help me find a car? I’m open to any suggestions you have as long as it’s a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.”

Of course certain folks have bitched and moaned about the Big 3 offering gas guzzling SUV’s and pickups for decades. While subtly ignoring Toyota’s and Honda’s desire to move into the same markets. Hell I’ll even go out and say it. Most car enthusiasts have prejudices against car brands that are based on media and myth.

There are a lot of vehicles enthusiasts tend to despise because of nothing more than this guilt by association. The Corvette is a fantastic sports car. But a lot of car buyers can’t get past paying $50k for a Chevrolet. The Hyundai Genesis? Needs a prestigious brand name like Lexus. The IS-F does not have a Bavarian acronym in front of it. BMW equals Y-U-P-P-I-E… and so forth. Best car? Doesn’t matter.

Even new models within a brand can get spat on with an unworthy nostalgia treatment. “The CR-Z isn’t sporty or economical like a CR-X or a 1st gen Insight. It’s gonna fail.” Never mind that 98% of car buyers never really gave a flip about those two older vehicles which is why Honda canned them in the first place. The CR-Z isn’t even widely available. Yet the pundits of uninformed opinions already want to give it the ‘holier-than-thou’ redneck tar and feather treatment to it.

It bothers me. I like to see the best car win… and I like to see people buy the best cars for them without blinders. A Suzuki SX4 is a great under 18k AWD vehicle that would have 20 times the volume if it had a popular emblem on the front of it. I would argue the same for the 1st gen Ford Fusion, the Mazda 5, and even the Pontiac G8 when it was out and about. Am I wrong? Perhaps. But I see writing off certain brands and models as the equivalent of writing off certain forms of music, food… and wrestlers. You can never get the full enjoyment of being an ‘enthusiast’ unless you’re willing to change your mind. To paraphrase the Piper, “If you think you always have all the right answers, you need to start changing the questions.”

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Aug 27, 2010

    More people would buy a SX4 if they had any idea where the Suzuki dealer was, and if that dealer wasn't three cars and a beat-up desk in the back of the Mazda/VW dealer's trade-in lot. Some people buy Toyonda simply because they know where three dealers apiece are, or they simply go to whatever dealer is closest to their house or work and buy whatever strikes their fancy on the lot.

  • Bevo Bevo on Aug 28, 2010

    "If you’re a buyer that intends to keep his vehicle for an extended period, depreciation becomes less of a factor." I have bought two cars since 1994. Yes, both were new off the lot. The horror! Except I kept the first one (a Suzuki Sidekick) for 9 years before picking up the second car (a Honda Element). In both instances, I could have cared less about the depreciation. When I buy a car, I ask three questions: Is it fun to drive? Does it suit my lifestyle (i.e., meet my needs)? Can I afford it? I don't give a rat's ass about depreciation or resale value because I am going to own (and care for it) the damn thing for at least 7 years. Anything less than means I bought a lemon.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Defender looks way better than the Bronco in both 2-door and 4-door.
  • ToolGuy I found this particular episode to be incredibly offensive.I am shocked that eBay Motors is supporting this kind of language and attitudes in 2024.I will certainly keep this in mind next time I am choosing where to buy auto parts (I buy a LOT of auto parts).
  • SaulTigh When I was young in the late 80's one of my friends had the "cool dad." You know the guy, first to buy a Betamax and a C-band satellite dish. Couple of stand up arcade games in the den. Bought my friend an Atari 2600 as soon as they came out. He had two of these crap heaps. One that only ran half the time and one for parts in the yard. My middle school brain though he was the most awesome dad ever, buying us pizza and letting us watch R rated movies recorded on free HBO weekend. At the time I though he was much better than my boring father.Now with adult hindsight, I now know he was "dad who should have taken better care of his family" and not had so many toys.
  • Dave Has to be Indy 500. Many more leaders and front passes than NASCAR, and Monaco is unwatchable with the inability to pass on that circuit.
  • Jeff How did the discussion get from an article about a 56 billion dollar pay package for Elon Musk to a proposal to charge a per mile tax on EVs in California or paying increase registration on vehicles to make up for lost gas tax revenue? I thought such a discussion would better fit Matt's Gas Wars series.
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