Question Of The Day: Love The Car, Hate The Company

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber

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

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3 of 63 comments
  • Daveainchina Daveainchina on Nov 30, 2012

    Mustang Boss 302 too many horrible experiences with Ford, Ford products and Ford dealers. Ruined me as a customer for life most likely.

  • Boxerman Boxerman on Nov 30, 2012

    Firstly if its premiun/exotics I hate company owned stores. I only bought a BMW because I found a private dealer, the attitude at BMW owned dealership was so poor, like they were really doing me an honour to sit in the car. Ferrari just sucks. Twice I would have bought a car from them, but for the attitude. Lately their attitude has ameliorated, I tried a 458, beautiful looking car, but it pretty much was a total letdown to drive on the road. Its an auto, with lots of noise and no real go untill you are at beserk revs, which is not doable on the street.Nothing was linear, not the steering or the power delivery, no fun to drive below 10/10ths. The power steering is ford circa 1970 light but compensated by a very quick ratio. Probably a killer car on a trackday but not much fun to drive on the street. Plus as someone said here, the newer ferraris a brand managed hairdresser cars. Then there is porche, twice put a deposit on a GT3, dealer never even called back. Its a pity because I drove one and it was great. I seriously doubt the new bloated PDK only large barge GT3 will be the same. Porche brand was based on the 911 its so called DNA being put into their other products. Now that the 911 is just another big GT car we have 10 years to go before porche is just another pointless brand. Unless of course they put their best motor in the cayman, its not gonna happen Me I spent my money over at Lotus. Yes the build lacks, and the motor is not the best, but at least its a serious driving machine, and you can track it. Plus everyone smiles when you drive by, even if you just did something they might frown upon, the car is innocuous and fun/cute. Have to say the new Viper has appeal, and maybe if they have build quality and tactile feel the C7 vette may be the way to go. Ferrai and porche I think have lost the plot almost completly, even if their cars put down numbers. But then so does a Nissan GTR, so what does ferrari really offer, styling? Snob appeal? But yes I do admire their sucess as a company, even if I think they and porche are shooting themselvs in the foot alienating the core of actual "gentlemen" drivers who ultimatly underpin the desireability of their products. But then we can say similar things about BMW, who are now eclipsed by Mercedes when it comes to cars with a bit of passion and driving feel. BMW is the new Lexus which was the new Cadillac.

    • Tedward Tedward on Nov 30, 2012

      Boxerman I have this fantasy that if we all scream "hairdresser's car!" at Ferrari for long enough they might get spooked by the embarrassment factor and do the right thing. Let's make it very very public that if you own a modern auto Ferrari neither you nor your car have all that much to brag about. edit* I would like to add that I have driven 2 modern Ferrari's myself. (same owner, same day, both autos, not impressed)

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