By on September 14, 2014

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In a former life, your humble author had a bit of money and liked to buy some expensive cars. Most particularly, I chose the ownership of two Phaetons over one Flying Spur about eight years ago. This bit of contrarian behavior happened after I had a long discussion with my local Bentley dealer. As a consequence, I’m still on the mailing list. Since Bentley is in the business of selling $80,000 Volkswagens for $180,000, they have the kind of profit margin that lets “mailing list” refer to a bunch of people getting Patrick Bateman-quality creamy bond paper mail instead of anonymous HTML spam. So what do we have here? Are you interested? I kind of was, so I opened it.

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This is what brilliant marketing looks like. It’s long since been proven that advertisements are effective because they are aspirational or confirmatory, not because they contain useful information or competitive comparisons or anything you’d see in a typical Pontiac ad of the Eighties. Advertising shows us who we’d like to be, or it confirms the brilliance of our existing choices and makes us more likely to purchase again.

To quote one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite articles by that author:

The target demo is not the 1%; the target demo is the Aspirational 14%. They know they are supposed to like quality and goodness and etiquette and discretion, but no one ever taught them what those things look like, so when someone does point it out to them they will go all in. Hence: anything in Trading Up. And they don’t care about the next generation. Not really. They don’t want them to be eaten by zombies but anything past 2069 is of no consequence. What they do care about is how a product brands them, what it says about them now, now that time is running out. Can’t afford to be subtle, which is the same thing as saying I’m willing to pay… to get the message across. There’s a difference between what the brand is and what the brand says about you. You’ll pay 10x for the former and 100x for the latter.

While the Continental GT is cheap by the standards of Goldman Sachs bonus babies, it’s cheap to no one else and it’s exceptionally difficult to “stretch” your way into a CGT because the cheapest lease I was ever quoted for a Continental GT of my very own was about $2300/month with all the right options. $2300/month in the tax bracket where you can afford it is really $5000/month of pre-tax money which means that by the time you insure and fuel the car you’re spending $80,000 a year of pre-tax income on a car in a country where the average family has half of that much money on which to live, eat, and purchase healthcare.

So how do you pitch aspirational to people who have that kind of money to throw around? Typically it’s done by putting the CGT next to something that costs even more, like an $8000/hour executive jet or the kind of home that retails for $25 million anywhere but a McMansion lot in Texas or the Midwest. But there’s another way and The Last Psychiatrist nails it:

The man in the photo is not a representation of the target demo; he is the impossible aspiration of the target demo.

What’s impossible for the kind of people who can afford this car? Why, it’s the one thing that’s impossible for anyone to buy: youth. Of course the woman is young, but she’s not that young. She’s not the SeekingArrangement girl who’s charging five hundred bucks for an hour with one of her sorority sisters’ fathers or the Vegas career prostitute you’d see on the arm of a Russian mobster or NBA owner. She’s the thirty-four-year-old gorgeous mother who married our water-logged hero three months after she graduated from Vassar and he graduated from Dartmouth. (And ignore the British registration; that’s just so they can remind you it’s a British car.)

These are beautiful, successful young people who were born to money and achieved distinction on their own. They’re still sexy, still spontaneous, still enviable. I can assure you with 100% certainty that their real-life versions do not own a Continental GT. They have some sort of malevolent-looking GL or Range Rover or Yukon Denali, depending on geographical location — if, that is, they even own a car at all.

The average Continental GT buyer is fiftysomething and is interested in showing off a bit. Most of the people I met while hanging out at Bentley dealer events were self-made types. Most weren’t very good-looking or put-together because when you build and run the kind of business that gets you that kind of income in one generation, your hands don’t stay idle and you don’t spend much time looking after your looks. You have money. What you want is excitement, sex, the thrill of youth. Could you have some of it in a Continental GT? Of course not. But if you want to kid yourself about it…

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182 Comments on “The Myth And Realities Of Luxury Marketing...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    Brilliant article and 100% true, if uncomfortable to those who see themselves in the aspirational consumer demo.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    First thing the line on the envelope made me think of was the Clinton – Lewinsky affair.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    “The average Continental GT buyer is fiftysomething and is interested in showing off a bit. Most of the people I met while hanging out at Bentley dealer events were self-made types. Most weren’t very good-looking or put-together because when you build and run the kind of business that gets you that kind of income in one generation, your hands don’t stay idle and you don’t spend much time looking after your looks.”

    I’ve been giving this concept quite a bit of thought of late, because I’m at the age when you start to feel your age and you have to take things like retirement planning seriously.

    I suppose that’s one of the more depressing feelings in life, assuming you’ve never had a jury slap you with a Guilty verdict or some other horrible thing – the realization that you’re no longer young and you can’t still be anything you want.

    Again, the great philosopher and sage Red Green said it best:

    “I know, it’s not fair. Here you are, you’ve landed on your feet, you have money in your pocket, you finally know how to talk to women. The problem is, it’s taken you 25 years, a wife and three kids to get there.”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Wise words indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      In Europe (and Britain, especially), the typical Bentley Conti owner is young, handsome and fit.

      He has to be, since he made the money kicking the ball around on some lawn.

      On the other hand, he doesn’t have to be very clever. In fact, he’s probably pretty dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      Phillin_Phresh

      “I suppose that’s one of the more depressing feelings in life, … – the realization that you’re no longer young and you can’t still be anything you want.”

      I completely disagree. I went to the birthday party of a guy who turned 70 years old yesterday. He works like a fiend at a very thinking-intensive job, but still makes time to pursue new things. In the past 5 years he has learned to sing, play the guitar, speak German; travels as much as his budget will allow, and is working on an advanced degree in one of his newfound passions.

      It’s fruitless to waste time thinking of what you can’t do or which opportunities you missed in the past. Otherwise, tomorrow, you will be looking back on today and wondering where the time went.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      “I suppose that’s one of the more depressing feelings in life, assuming you’ve never had a jury slap you with a Guilty verdict or some other horrible thing – the realization that you’re no longer young and you can’t still be anything you want.”

      I’ll disagree. You want to know the secret of feeling good in the years approaching senior citizen status? Be a complete loser in your youth. The kid that was a complete geek, the one that no girl would be caught talking to, much less go out with. And then grow up, using that geekiness and nerdiness to follow all sorts of interesting paths in life.

      And then show up at your class reunions.

      The ultimate truth in life is the statement, “The best revenge is living well.” I attended both my 30th and 45th class reunions, and enjoyed the dropped jaws on my former classmates. The first time I showed up on a Harley flying colors, and my M/C dropped by to pick me up at the end of the evening. The second time was recently widowed with a really good looking and built woman 21 years younger than me (the hatred towards her from the females in my class was obvious) hanging on my arm. Oh yeah, being in better health and thirty pounds lighter than the average classmate didn’t hurt, as did still having a full head of hair.

      While the paths open to me aren’t as wide as they were fifty years ago, I’m hardly stuck on some narrow track with a completely predictable life of failing health and boredom being my only alternative. While I recognize that things could radically change in a moment (stroke?), I’m not seeing any signs that those bad changes are happening yet, so I’m still plowing ahead.

      Current plans are to get married to said 21 year younger woman next April, and restarting my old historical costuming business because I’ll be retiring from my full-time job in two years. Don’t want to get bored.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Well written as usual Jack.

    I doubt you’ll ever be humble =8-) .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Many people are aware that the target demo for luxury brands isn’t the 1%. They try to emulate and aspire to be like the 1% by going downmarket in a kind of reverse snobbery. “Oh, the Escalade is too flashy for me. I’ll have the Denali XL. That is how the *really* wealthy people spend their money.” The Denali is just as flashy and expensive, sir.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Depends on where you live… None of my NYC friends know what a Denali was even when we were riding in one (an uber suv) whereas they all know what an escalade is.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I dunno if this is true of others in the more rural areas, but around here buying a GMC Denali is actually considered more pretentious than an Escalade. You want something flashy and expensive, but you want it to have the same nameplate as your grandpa’s work truck? That’s a specific level of Denial…rearrange the letters a bit, and what do you get? Denali. At least an Escalade doesn’t have any delusions of being a workingman’s truck.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          A Yukon Denali made my final two list when I bought a Q7 a couple years ago. I checked out both thorougly up close and personal. The Denali was 95% the car for 65% the money.

        • 0 avatar
          kuponoodles

          NYC is freaking weird when it comes to money and cars. Here’s what Ivw observed living in Brooklyn, and Manhattan, wife’s from queens, work in Yonkers and Bronx sometimes.

          Upper east side is old money, so you a mix of see no cars but on callprivate drivers/cabs all day long and they wait for their dorrmen to come out and open the car doors. Thosethat will drive have, Teslas, Rolls and AMG Merc’s Or GL’s and the ocassion Super car. Once in a while someone will whip out a pristine vintage Sl or older BMW’s. E.g. they show it off.

          Upper West is younger, new money. They will still buy priuses, volts, Teslas, etc. But the drop 10g’s on a Pinarello or some other pretenious bicycle. They will buy $2000 suits that look like a $100 piece except to for some really fucking obscure detail. E.g. they want to pretend they dont have money.

          Brooklyn park slope, williamsburg, flatbuah, cobble hill, etc. Trendy. More like to see $7k restored Vespa or Honda CB350.
          The familys usually has higher spec Volvo or Subaru wagons. Only visiting grand parents from UES have Big cars.

          Rest of Brooklyn,is minivans vs high end SUVs. Most kids out there drive nicer cars than their parents. The money isn’t in cars, its in “who can buy 2 pieces of corner propety and they pay to gut rennovate and create a mansion, and proceed to move 6 families into it”…… Except for East NY, cuz i dont feel like getting carjacked or murdered.

          Queens/Long Island
          Scares and disgusts me. You almost think that nobody buys non german or non luxury brands out there. Whats even more digusting is the Jag, Lambo, Aston Marton, all have a dealerships along Norther blvd. Shit, the Manhasset mall parking lot looks like a car show every weekend.

          Ok. End rant good night

  • avatar

    So when is Bentley coming out with an A3 based “entry level” car for ~$35,000?

    • 0 avatar

      A not-particularly-equipped A3 could run for more than $35K. So if it’s got a Bentley badge, expect it to cost $70,000.

      Honestly, though…I think Volkswagen Group did a good job with the Continental GT and the Flying Spur. They’re appealing, they embody all of the Bentley brand values, and…most-crucial, if you parked either one next to a Phaeton (which, by the way, is still being made for other markets) most people would not see the relationship.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        ” think Volkswagen Group did a good job with the Continental GT and the Flying Spur. They’re appealing, they embody all of the Bentley brand values, and…most-crucial, if you parked either one next to a Phaeton (which, by the way, is still being made for other markets) most people would not see the relationship.”

        True suckers with more money than brains pay 2 1/2 to 3 times what the mechanically identical counterpart costs.

        If someone is so completely obsessed with a mission of trying to impress people (most of whom don’t care about them and/or are fair weather acquaintances) that they’re willing to spend 3x more for a mechanically identical car to get a more prestigious badge, they have an incredibly empty, shallow existence.

        And this is what modern marketing seeks to exploit – human psychological pathologies (see the late Bill Hicks).

        • 0 avatar

          Who cares if it’s mechanically-identical? It’s not the same car. Also, you cannot even get the Phaeton here in the States, at this point.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            DeadWeight, I think it’s important to read between the lines of Jack’s article. Nowhere does it claim that what he describes does not describe ALL OF US. These are universal processes… we all consider what our choice says about us, though we may be misguided about it and/or consider other things as well.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It’s the same vehicle with a different wrapper & some extra gingerbread (even accounting for the cylinder count in the W12).

            I see right through the strategies advertisers use & can easily identify the people that are most likely to be moved to a purchasing decision based on some emotional, devoid of specific factual information (there may be not a single mention of the products specific attributes -think cologne, perfume commercials around Christmas time) promotional material/commercials/advertisements.

            Advertising firms are really psychological think tanks, engaged in incredibly sophisticated strategum, deploying incredibly sophisticated reach out campaigns (research astroturfing, which many pharmaceutical companies utilize to advertise their products).

            Anyone who buys a Bentley GT worth their own money/debt…I actually feel sorry for their naivety, and for how they were psychologically raped.

          • 0 avatar

            Take a moment to step of off your high horse. Not everyone who buys a Continental GT or Flying Spur has been “psychologically raped”. For some of us, they’re simply worth the price. There are many reasons I’d own one. So feel sorry and bitter for other people’s purchases if you like; the rest of us will get on with our lives.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Truth will set your captive mind free.

            Your real worth as a human, family member, friend, boyfriend, husband, son, parent is not, nor ever will be, in any way elevated based on the badge on that which you drive.

            You are not your brand of khakis.

            There is a new commercial for the Cadillac ATS I’ve seen twice now (the car is an overpriced POS, by the way), where the ad features a stylishly dressed young, good looking black male, who is some sort of hipster DJ/professional club promoter/music producer.

            There is not a single mention of a single objective fact about a single attribute of the ATS in terms of specifications, warranty, performance or any other matter.

            It’s exactly like the Bentley ad that is the subject matter of this article.

            It’s psychological manipulation par excellence.

          • 0 avatar

            Ok…let me state it another way: I don’t buy cars to impress other people. I buy them because I like them. So the “badge” on the car means little to me. The Continental and Flying Spur aren’t literally Phaetons with Bentley badges, as you seem to imply. There are many, many differences. And I know they are mechanical siblings of the Phaeton (which, again, you cannot buy new in the States), but do not care. I think you pegged Jack’s point excellently, but the fact that I’d buy one doesn’t automatically mean that I’ve fallen prey to that kind of advertising.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Get over yourself dude. Do you really live by this credo? Do you only eat cheap ground beef? After all, what’s the difference between it and a nice steak? Do you not travel? Is everything you own as cheap as possible? Do you want some kind of congradulations for being jealous and cheap? That’s what it seems like you’re looking for.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            On the contrary, we pay extra for extremely high quality beef, chicken, pork, produce & other foods.

            We even go so far as to tag and buy an entire Hereford steer, that was raised on grass, fattened with grains & whey before slaughter, and that had no GMO/antibiotic laden feed (it’s done through a 4H Club that teaches kids about raising healthy livestock, and they raised chickens, lamb & goats this year, as well; you haven’t really tasted beef if all you know is prepackaged beef from the store).

            Some things of quality, such as things you & your kids ingest, are most definitely worth it.

            I spent extra to build my own house using trades I know & trust. My home uses 60% less in terms of utilities & energy than comparably sized new homes.

            Quality over quantity.

            I even wouldn’t mind one day buying a Singer customized 911, even though they cost 3x what a new 911 does, because rather than an acquisition intended to impress others, I really have a passion for that particular vehicle as modded by Singer – quality is there.

            People who exhaust themselves financially in order to keep up with Stanley Johnson are killing themselves through stress and debt for the worst reasons; if they are purchasing true quality driven by true a true and lasting passion, Godspeed.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Deadwieght

            Car ads have been about emotion over substance since the “Somewhere west of Laramie” Jordan ads of the 20’s. Get over it.

        • 0 avatar
          Compaq Deskpro

          The Phaeton shouldn’t exist, its mere presence undermines the Continental.

          My issue with the Continental GT is that it has a bunker interior and no rear visibility like the Taurus. The price is high but fair and in line with the competition.

          • 0 avatar

            Sort of. The Phaeton is a *really* nice Volkswagen. I’d say at this point that the Phaeton is more of a budget Bentley than the Continental GT is a gussied-up V-Dub.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Kyree – I should have replaced “you” with “one” when making my comments, b/c my comments were meant to be applied towards our society, as a whole, and not you in particular (despite us disagreeing on whether the Continental GT is or isn’t a cosmetically enhanced Phaeton).

            I have strong opinions about popular culture, but I realize that my opinion that quality trumps quantity, and that most people only have a handful (at most) of true passions in life, and that they would be far better off spending/focusing their time & resources on those things, rather than consuming in bulk quantity and across a wide array of topics things they have no or little passion for, is a minority opinion.

            Like I mentioned elsewhere, I have a deep passion for flat 6 911s that are closer to the original version than modern ones, and I especially like both the very expensive Singer customized 911 (not because it’s expensive, but because they did such an amazing job striking the essence of the 911), as well as some of the 911 restomods that Magnus Walker has crafted (these older, vintage, yet perfectly massaged Porsches stir my soul like no new Porsche can, for whatever reason, and I suspect it centers around quality first and foremost).

            By contrast, I view the new Bentley CGT as a disposable & soulless exercise in restlessness and garishness, and this really stands out in an even more pronounced manner when one accepts that a Phaeton, costing 1/3 as much, is the same vehicle underneath the sheet metal.

            *IMO*

      • 0 avatar

        My whole point was that “luxury” brands like BMW, Mercedes and Audi keep lowering the price of entry.. There’s no reason to think that Bentley won’t do the same. It’s a race to the bottom pretty soon there won’t be anything to “aspire” to.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          DeadWeight I think just because you are so good, clearly, at identifying marketing strategies of ad companies, you seem to have forgotten that they actually do work with something real. It’s called identity.

          You hated the ATS – WE GET IT. We will read your review, respect it, and comment on it when it comes out. You want to give it a break until then?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Shouldn’t companies producing things of tangible value, especially when what they produce is alleged to be better than the competitors’ goods, be spoken of with particulars and some specificity, in the advertising?

            Isn’t that the whole point of doing/producing something better (to be known specifically for what sets you/them apart from the competition)?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Bentley has no need of lowering the price of entry, as they are not an independent auto maker. VAG has the market covered from the cheapest Polo to the most expensive Bentley/Lamborghini. There is bound to be a little overlap here and there, but this is not GM where every brand had to cover every market – VAG is far more disciplined than that. Even the A3 really rather nicely splits the difference between the top VW and the A4, so why not?

          BMW and Mercedes ARE independent car makers, and they have to expend their lines to stay that way. I also think it is important to note that it is really ONLY the US that sees BMW and Mercedes as exclusively “luxury” makes. Mercedes makes everything from garbage trucks to taxis to the S-class in the rest of the world, and no one thinks a thing about it.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Graduating from college, my aspiration was to find a cure for cancer and win the Nobel prize. Didn’t even come close! I will settle for a Bentley.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’d be wary my new Bentley would explode after word got out in the medical community that I may have cured cancer and a paper would be forthcoming.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Populist paranoia at it’s finest!

        So, just for a quick check of facts: If a lifetime of medical care for cancer treatment costs 1 million dollars (just for easy round numbers) wouldn’t the cure just cost a million dollars as well to resolve it? Since you could theoretically regress and get the cancer once more. Never mind that there are countless teams right now working on treatments (calling them cures is a publicity term) for cancer that would in effect make them negligible to the person.

        I really don’t get these sort of fear-induced thought processes that never seem to come with the logic to back them up…

        • 0 avatar
          Compaq Deskpro

          Treatments are good, the company gets paid for a lifetime, cures are bad, company gets paid once, maybe not even if its a birth vaccine.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            This is assumptive logic. It has no basis in historical analysis or logical reality. It falls into the myth of the 100 MPG carburetor/fuel filter/air filter. It takes a basic issue with society (in this case low mileage or cancer) and injects a fear of the rich and powerful (car companies & medical companies) denying the average person something they desire. It has all the makings of an urban legend because it feels like it has some historical basis: Companies have often done the minimal to meet regulations and such. The problem is that if 100 MPG item could be made at reasonable cost any company that could make it would make it. The same can be said for the cure for cancer where it is less a fiscal competition issue so much as they would simply adjust their treatment structure.

            It’s actually an interesting study in sociology that responds to these issues because it becomes passed off as accepted normative logic though if you probe it even slightly it self-destructs.

            I’m not slamming McCoy or even 28 (because I think he wasn’t being completely honest in his statements of belief). I just always find these statements so odd that it strikes my fancy to respond to them. It’s a great bit of hyperbole on McCoy’s part and deserves a bit of respect for that alone.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          I suspect anyone who buys into the whole “they’ve covered up the cure for cancer” conspiracy has absolutely no idea what the term “lifetime value” means.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            ” I suspect anyone who buys into the whole “they’ve covered up the cure for cancer” conspiracy has absolutely no idea what the term “lifetime value” means.”

            _THIS_ ~ that anyone could even conceive of some twisted bullshit like this is amazing ~ my Father spent his entire Adult life working to cure cancer , he was an Oncologist who was saddened by every patient he ever lost .

            Shame on any conspiracy jerk who’d even suggest such a thing .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            Nate,

            You father was an oncologist, he did not cure or try to cure cancer, he diagnosed and treated it, very different.

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            As a cancer patient with incurable disease, I assumed 28-cars was joking.

            Otherwise, he should read “The Emperor of All Maladies” which is an outstanding history of efforts at cancer treatment, with a description of the family of diseases by that name that is accessible to English majors like I am.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Zoiks! My comment was just a snarky way of saying we should ignore luxo ads and aspire to something higher, instead of having to “settle” for a Bentley.

      That said, I don’t buy into the paranoia and conspiracy. A cure for cancer, or being able to prevent it, would be widely greeted as a happy event. There are still so many problems to solve, there’s little need to prolong old problems or manufacture new ones.

      And if and when cancer is cured, that doesn’t mean existing research, techniques, and equipment are thrown away. The science can be applied elsewhere, and can unintentionally lead to new discoveries. Rogaine hair growth accidentally came from research into blood pressure medication. 3M Post-It notes came from research into strong adhesives that accidentally produced a weak adhesive. And Alexander Graham Bell got his telephone to work when he accidentally spilled acid on his phone (improving electrical conductivity).

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    I once saw a presentation by a top retail Guru. It was eye-opening with some of the same themes.

    Basically demographics don’t matter much, once you have access to either enough money or enough debt it’s all about psychology.

    And NOTHING in modern retail is an accident, even those times when you’re somewhere and there isn’t a single damn store that appeals to you. Or you think that all those brands names are a waste of money. It’s like a game of chess and they’re three moves ahead of you.

    You’re walking through a boutique mall thinking how stupid it all is, stuck waiting while your wife looks at over-priced purses, and oh-you might as well walk into that high-end audio-equipment store even though even those things are also a waste of money.

    Excellent article Jack.

    • 0 avatar

      This.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      That’s perhaps the most sickening, rat-in-a-maze thought running through my head.

      Conspiracy theory though it may be, I hate Hate HATE the thought that everywhere I turn and everything I do is being cynically and subtly manipulated by someone, for the purpose of getting my money.

      Makes you wonder how high the attitude of “It never hurts to make the sheep think it’s their idea to walk into the slaughterhouse” goes.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        Too bad.

        Few people make anything for free. So, every detail of the experience which leads you to a product that can be manipulated, will be, and the extent thereof is only limited by human imagination and intelligence which, applied to the pursuit of money, can be extraordinary.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Having read The Space Merchants decades ago, I still sometimes think the bad driver in front of me is really a low level terrorist trying to make me unhappy and want to move.

  • avatar
    koshchei

    Excellent analysis, Jack!

    Relatively spot on regarding what the aspirational targets actually drive as well. In Canada, the trend seems to be toward practical, but not utilitarian; comfortable, but not soft; bold, but not loud or ostentatious.

  • avatar

    “(And ignore the British registration; that’s just so they can remind you it’s a British car.)”

    If you look closely, the car wearing the UK style license plate is left hand drive. The brochure was likely produced in North America.

  • avatar

    Yes, because I’d jump into a nasty lake, get soaked, and then get back into my $180,000 exotic land-yacht.

    I guess I’m the exception to the rule, because I’m very young, yet still highly interested in Bentley. But it’s not just because the cars are flashy…it’s because of their gorgeous sheetmetal and exquisite craftsmanship…and to that effect, the object of my desire isn’t the Continental GT or the Flying Spur, but the big-boy model…the Mulsanne. And it looks like Bentley is finally doing coupe and cabriolet versions of the Mulsanne.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The only vehicle I would feel comfortable jumping into right after a dip in the lake would probably be a Kawasaki Mule.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “Exquisite craftsmanship”

      I just drove by a Flying Spur this afternoon (little old Zionsville Indiana has a Bently dealership!!). The orange peel in the paint made me think of things other than “exquisite craftsmanship.” No if I was a well heeled gentleman I think I’d drive the cleanest W126 Mercedes I could get my hands on.

      “You wouldn’t be a self indulgent weiner sir, you’d be a connoisseur.”

      • 0 avatar

        There is something very alluring about the older, well-maintained car…especially if it’s a W126. I think I’d do both. I’d have an older, pristine car and a newer one that I swapped out every so often. Like I said, I do like the Continental GT and Flying Spur, but even *I* will not be deluded into thinking that they can be preserved in the same manner as a W126.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think the quality of the older Benzes is a luxury all on its own. Many components are somewhat needlessly complex, but everything can be rebuilt rather than replaced. So it’s sort of like a fine Swiss watch (I’m sure Mr Baruth can chime in with an exact analogy). Newer flashier stuff full of gizmos will be here today gone tomorrow, that W126 can be rebuilt and passed along to a son/daughter to be cherished like a family heirloom.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        I don’t know about that GTE, my neighbor’s Bentley got scratched some years ago and he had to repaint the whole car and it was something like $20,000, his Rolls Royce was worse, over $30,000. The quality of everything on the Bentley is quite excellent.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And you would find no shortage of orange peel on that W126 either.

        I’ve spent plenty of time in W126s, and I have owned a w123 and a w124. Their legendary superiority is largely a figment of the Internet imagination. They ARE good cars (for their time), but they are not in any way magic carpets, nor would I expect them to outlive anything in the same class built today, if actually used as intended. They had just as many in-built expensive dilemmas as anything German today, and they were bloody expensive to maintain even back in the day. As I have mentioned here before, my Mother/Stepfather had an e28 BMW (’83 528e) from new to over 250K miles. It had a stack of maintenance and repair receipts like a phone book over those 20 years or so. Comparing just the first three years of that cars life to the first three years of my 328i’s life is enlightening – it literally needed 3X as much service and repairs even when it was brand new. And that was a car that was about as complicated as an anvil in comparison to mine.

        The good old days really were not all that good.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    To a degree, in some ways, most people are aspirational. The voodoo comes in when you can get people to pay lots of money for it again and again. That truly is magic (incidentally with a healthy dash of science thrown in for good effect).

    Less expensive brands do the same. Think Jeep, Subaru, and Range Rover with their trek the world vibes. I’m seeing more people on big adventure bikes. Some of which have no intention of taking them off-road but wanderlust, or the appearance of, is a powerful draw.

    As for me, instead of buying an exotic, I’d spend that money on a well sorted L39. I’d have to feed it but it would be an absolute blast.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Jack, this line:

    “competitive comparisons or anything you’d see in a typical Pontiac ad of the Eighties”

    Is awesome. There is a video I saw a few years back (I can’t seem to find it!) about Pontiac comparing the late 80s/early 90s grand prix to the thunderbird–As if any shopper in their right mind would seriously consider the FWD 3.1L slow mobile as serious competition to the rwd excellent handling, outstanding 80s styling genius of the late tc/early sc. Being very familiar with GM cars of that era and now owning a mn-12 t-bird I can say that the t-bird screams quality in the entire engineering and build compared to what GM was putting out on the W body at that time. The t-bird was often called the American answer to the 6 series for a good reason.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Agreed.

      I used to have a $600 white-and-rust Chicago South Side Edition ’93 SC and, engine design flaws aside, it was a great car.

      Even in its horrid condition, it still radiated the effort Ford put into it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I dealt with several late Fox and early MN12 (MY89 and 90 specifically) base V6 T-birds ten years ago and I don’t recall them radiating quality at the time. Perhaps Ford really pulled out the stops on the SC?

      Additional: We had a navy blue MY89 V6 with lower miles (60s), a digital dash, power antenna/windows/locks, and I believe factory CD. I only drove it once or twice and it was lacking in power at the time. I was persuaded against it because of the 3.8 V6 and told if I like the model it had to be 5.0. This advice eventually set me on the course of buying a 5.0 Town Car (in 2009) which taught me an expensive lesson in hindsight.

      Additional2: Now that I think more, while the T-bird quality wasn’t anything to write home about by the time I saw them, any GM of the same period was hit or miss at best, partially because GM was in crisis at the time (see the crisis of 1992). Some platforms were stalwarts (C-body FWD, B-body, E-body) while others such as W and N were simply cheap even if those examples were using a correct motor (60V6, 3800, Opel 2.2 etc). However I don’t think early C-P-C W-body is comparable to MN12, closer to Taurus/Tempo. MN12 is closer to GM’s E-body in terms of mission and pricing.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Ford made a valiant effort with the SC but the 3.8 SC engine had FOUR, count ’em, FOUR major design flaws:

        1 – It was bimetal, with aluminum heads on an iron block. Not too weird, but the head gaskets were never designed to handle the shear stress they encountered and coupled with the increased pressure from the blower, blew themselves out with regularity.

        2 – The lower intake manifold was designed to allow the blower to fit under the low hood and because of that, was NOT designed with efficient airflow in mind.

        3 – The coolant passages that went through the lower intake manifold were subjected to much the same thermal expansion shear stress that had a contract out on the head gaskets, and would leak.

        4 – The really fucking brilliant thing about the 3.8 SC engine was that the driver’s side exhaust manifold dumped DEAD VERTICAL into the TOP of the cat, creating a huge backpressure bottleneck that conspired to repeatedly kill driver’s side head gaskets like it was on a mission from God.

        Keep in mind that all of these magnificences applied only to the supercharged version of the 3.8 engine. Apparently, the NA 3.8 did just fine – no less reliable than any other Detroit V6 of the time.

        Still, I loved that car, and was quite crestfallen when I sold it to the junk man. If I ever do another one as a project car, it’s getting an EcoBoost out an F-150.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Apparently, the NA 3.8 did just fine – no less reliable than any other Detroit V6 of the time.”

          You were doing OK until you said this. All forms of the Essex 3.8L were pure head gasket eating garbage until about ’98.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Oh, forgot to mention.

        While it had it’s faults, the 3.8 SC was Ford’s torqueiest engine short of a diesel at the time.

        I never had to use more than a fraction of the throttle to get around town smartly, which was a good thing, because every single engine bearing and transmission clutch pack was disintegrating and any additional stress was likely to just accelerate the inevitable.

        Never once left me stranded, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      While some of the comparisons are silly I do prefer ads with facts behind them.

      In the 70’s-90’s Volvo had some of the best with stacking their cars up like toys, comparing them to tanks (perhaps to poke fun at the huge Domestic cars of the time), and TV ads featuring them smashing their own cars, rallying them, just banging them up to brag their durability.

      I’ve yet to see a modern car ad that gives me any decent facts like innovative 4WD systems or suspension tuning. Just lots of city driving and “heritage” ads where Audi or Mercedes will show you a terrific vintage car they made, then one of their newer cars. I think if I wanted an old car I’d buy an old car.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Irv Gordon and his 3 million mile Volvo P1800 speaks to exactly what you’re speaking of, for me.

        The guy was a science teacher when he bought that car, after falling in love with its attributes, not because he was trying to impress anyone, but because the car sang to his soul.

        That led to a very intimate and long term love affair born of true passion where he took great care of the vehicle, and find’t even bother driving the new Volvos he was given when he hit each 1 million mile mark.

        It matters not what that P1800 cost him in ’67; whether would have been a massive amount or a relatively miniscule one, he loved the car and bought as a result of true passion, and not some sick, fleeting, twisted, advertising driven/fueled quest to keep up with MTV Cribs.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Irvs perhaps one of the few non-car buffs who I’ve seen with a serious dedication to his car.

          As usual with your comments I have to agree, like your posts on quality over quantity.

          Do what you want, its what makes you you.

          I argue this for car brands, when Detroit began trying to one-up Japan in the 90’s they began making anonymous blobs. Not entirely bad cars by any means, but a lot of forgettable ones.

          All this talk about “Target Demographic” with Bentley just makes it sounds like a cold product, same goes for when car brands go on about that nonsense.

        • 0 avatar

          +1

          Here’s Irv’s story

          https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/the-man-for-whom-they-made-the-three-million-mile-badge/

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          The ultimate irony is that some have ripped my comments about the financial stupidity of paying 2x to 3x as much for a Continental GT versus a Phaeton (since they really are the same cars mechanically speaking, wrapped differently), when I am the first to admit that someone like Irv Gordon is living life spot on by buying something that represents and involves a true passion for him (and which didn’t have a less expensive mechanical twin, btw), and further, I’ve said that I often fantasize about owning either a Singer 911 or maybe a retromod Magnus Walker Porsche, both which cost multiples of what new Porsche products do –

          – Quality over quantity and passion over gaudy consumerism.

          If more people focused on their true, core passions, and then took good care of that which they acquired, the world would be a much better place.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            I dunno what makes VWs case any better than the old Detroit badge-swaps that we mock, I mean this is Bentley we’re talking about! And they’re selling marked up VWs!

            Imagine if they tried this back in the day, take a ’65 VW Beetle, give it one of those custom Rolls trunk-lids, badge it as a Rolls, and sell it for triple the price. Would people really buy this let alone defend it?

            The only “sibling” to the 1800 was the 122, but the 1800 had merits that made it different enough beyond styling.

            I too would rather have a Singer 911 over a plain new one, they look better and represent what made the 911 one of those “I really want this” cars, something above an accessory to sell a million variants of.

            I agree with that too, less debt for us with that mindset.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Oh, boy, do I know aspirational!

    Saw a beautiful TX4 London Taxi on the lot of a local body shop. Regrettably, it wasn’t for sale; it’s owned by a sprawling local company for tours of the plant.

    So cute! So dead practical! So much window!

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    I think the book Spin Selling was first time I ran across the observation that the cheaper your product, the more your advertising focusses on pricing, features, and comparisons.

    You can tell where Bentley, Ferrari, and Rolls Royce stand in the Parthenon of automotive brands. It’s all lifestyle branding, with nary a mention of tangibles, nor even a badge mentioning the model you’re driving. Compare that to the race-to-the-bottom of the chasers, with their “V12 Biturbo”, “DBS” and “X Drive” badges. And it’s been interesting watching the luxury car brands move away from lifestyle ads, particularly as the car nears the end of its product cycle or has been neutered by superior competitors.

    I don’t know how the K900 nor Equus can continue on their current path of discussing features. I think Kia should just use their flagships in the background of their ads for other models, yet alluding to a narrative that the company can build a flagship and that knowhow trickles down to the rest of their line. That way, the company doesn’t spend a cent directly marketing the K900 and Equus but amortize the cost by overlapping it with their lower models.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      My boss owns a new kia k900 in white. It’s a beautiful car in real life and seems like a great value, I was very impressed. However, as most people still view kia as cheap cars, I think the high pricing for the kia badge is going to turn most off to it.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        I’m a financial planner who work with a lot of wealthy entrepreneurs. Regardless of the naysayers, its the well positioned product. One of the downsides of buying flashy car is that your employees become emboldened to do counterproductive things like ask for raises, or protest layoffs. If you’re doing good, there’s nothing worse than advertising it. I think the market for Bentley’s would probably appeal more to self-made millionaires that do not override others to earn their income.

        Speaking of value, I priced out an S550 for the same feature set as a fully optioned K900 V8; it was literally double the price. It threw in some glaringly obvious features like AWD which the Kia doesn’t have, but I had to add the $6900 Burmester system just to match the standard Lexicon stereo. I hate the German website car configurators that give the illusion of choice but in reality force you to bundle options you don’t want.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I know & have exposure to many truly wealthy people (i.e. net wealth of 4 million+, with some clients over the 20mm mark), most of whom (the massively overwhelming majority) live so far you underneath their means that many here who don’t have my vantage point would have difficult comprehending how far beneath.

          And they, for the most part, drive well worn cars, many of which are 6 to 12 years old, with OFTEN 100,000 miles or more on the odometer.

          Many of these people own contracting/manufacturing companies, and/or own a lot of land, and/or are farmers, and their vehicles of choice are pickup trucks, older Buick LeSabres, Lucernes and even Park Avenues, Lincoln Town Cars, 7 year old Camrys or Avalons, etc.

          Almost to a person, the people I know who drive 6 figure, new cars, are either specialized physicians or lawyers (keeping up with their cohorts), or more often, people who are living way above their means, drowning in debt originating from the purchase of many expensive, depreciating, production-less goods/things.

          • 0 avatar
            WaftableTorque

            Deadweight, your observations match mine to a T. I think it has to do with the fact that most of the wealthy people I know have illiquid assets tied up in their home equity or their business.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Sounds like you live somewhere rural and modest, like the Midwest. Where I grew up in CT, rich people all drove big SUVs like Grand Cherokees and Suburbans and Land Cruisers, and E-Class Benzes. New money and old alike.

          • 0 avatar
            hreardon

            +1 Deadweight, that’s a good description of the wealthy folks that I grew up around (note, I said ‘around’, not ‘part of’).

            Very much midwestern…

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Waftable & hreardon – definitely Midwestern sensibilities, though these traits extend to others I know/knew who lived in places as scattered as Hawaii, Florida, Montana, Ontario (Canada, not California), and Rochester, New York, also.

            s2k – The list of cars you set forth regarding Connecticut tastes doesn’t surprise me, and in a way, given the income there and the demographics, their vehicles are somewhat the equivalents to the ones I listed, especially if they were held onto for anything past a few years and well cared for. I can definitely see someone who is truly wealthy in Connecticut driving a well worn Range Rover because they just like the vehicle as a daily driver, have it serviced regularly (or maybe even enjoy wrenching on it themselves), and they don’t trade in or up for a new vehicle like a Bentley GT every two or three years.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            Sounds like you don’t truly know those guys. $4 million to $20 million is not that much anyway. I’ll give you one guy I know for example, friend of my father’s, easily worth over $100 million, owns a little of every kind of business. Now if you saw him, he is always in regular jeans, black generic t-shirt, nothing fancy, drives an F-150 most of the time, so the average person that sees him thinks ahh, he is rich but is frugal, but no, he is not.

            If you actually knew him and were friends with him, you would be invited to his 12,000 sq.ft house on the lake, one of the 6 huge homes he owns across the country, you would drive in his million dollar motorhome, you would see his car collection with over 30 plus expensive classic cars, his huge house that he built his daughter with stables, riding facilities etc etc.

            Another guy I know drives an Escalade or Corvette to work in town where his company is, no biggie, house here is about a million, has a garage in the back though with Lamborghinis, Ferraris (never drives them in town though) etc, a vacation house that is worth $6.5 million and another one in Florida worth $8 million. Neighbor across the street just donated $1.5 million to a local university and he drives a Lexus ES and his wife a Toyota crossover.

            Everyone spends money, just because you don’t see it, does not mean they aren’t doing it.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            As I have said many times, those who live like they are wealthy don’t stay wealthy for long.

            The typical millionaire drives a sensible, 10-yr old car, cuts coupons, lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, and owns his/her own business that gets as much of his attention as his/her own wallet. Often, they consider themselves well-off, but not exactly rich.

            Deadweight’s point of living below one’s means is exactly why people become (and stay) wealthy. And that is as much proof as any that Jack’s point about luxury targets the 14%, not the 1% is correct.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        I’d rather have a Kenworth K900 and an ornery basset hound. East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’…

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “As I have said many times, those who live like they are wealthy don’t stay wealthy for long.

          The typical millionaire drives a sensible, 10-yr old car, cuts coupons, lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, and owns his/her own business that gets as much of his attention as his/her own wallet. Often, they consider themselves well-off, but not exactly rich.

          Deadweight’s point of living below one’s means is exactly why people become (and stay) wealthy. And that is as much proof as any that Jack’s point about luxury targets the 14%, not the 1% is correct.”

          You are correct about the typical “millionaire.” Probably gleaned from “the millionaire next door” which was mostly about moderate-income people who saved and invested their way into a million or two.

          Thing is, a million isn’t a lot of money these days. I know plenty of millionaires who got that way by a healthy 401k and a few paid off assets (house), plus maybe another few hundred grand in investments. Yes, those guys are living frugally as you said, maybe not 10y/o car frugually, but not new Porsches either.

          But those are just millionaires. The guys buying CGTs and the like are multi-millionaires, worth high-7, 8, 9+ figures. These people are not clipping coupons and driving 10y/o cars unless their hobby is being a cheapskate. They aren’t all buying new exotics and supercars, but it’s more likely they’re cruising around in late-model E/5/Lexuses, newer SUVs, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I resemble this remark.

        We’re in the position to be buying a new/newish SUV in the next 6 months, and after the Baltimore Auto Show last spring, my wife really took a liking to the new Hyundai Santa Fe. However, she really wants a sunroof, and the only way to get that is to option it up to nearly $40 large.

        I can’t exactly bring myself to spend $35k+ on a Hyundai when we could buy a new/newish Grand Cherokee for the same money and have something resembling brand cachet, plus some actual off-road capability and towing capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The Internet, replete with articles like this, is giving “features” and “value for money” a new lease on life. Nowadays, “everyone” knows an A3 is a Golf and a Bentley just another VW. And that Louis Vuitton forces buck-a-day child laborers to skin their own pet kittens to save a buck on leather cost.

      The luxo pushers are fighting back by focusing on emerging markets with a less jaded, presumably more impressionable, clientele. And by, indirectly and likely unbeknownst even to themselves most of the time, supporting social arrangements and policies that actively and consistently transfer wealth from those with an aptitude for critical thinking, to those without.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        Stuki,
        Bain and Company did a sizeable survey of the world’s 150 million luxury buyers, and they’ve quantified those “disillusioned luxury survivors” you refer to. They are but a rounding error in China, but make up no more than around 20% of American, Japanese, and EU’s “true luxury” consumers.

        If anything, the survey indicates that luxury markets are difficult to crack because they’re heterogeneous, requiring different regional strategies for differing demographics, psychographics, socioeconomic status, and local logistics.

        http://www.slideshare.net/Ikusmer/lens-on-the-worldwide-luxury-consumer

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        stuki – i have to disagree that ‘everyone’ knows these things. The few thousand of us that pay attention to these things, sure. We all know. The other 16.7 million annual buyers out there? Yeah, they don’t have a clue – nor particularly cares.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Those few thousands are growing. And tend to be concentrated amongst those that target consumers aspire to be like.

          Aside from Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, few aspirationals particularly aspire to come across as stupid and clueless.

          Emerging luxo brands generally thrive by continuously attempting to stay one step ahead of comparisons, by constantly changing their supposed “specialness.” From “organic” to “sustainable” to “fair trade” to “local”….. From smooth and quiet, to smooth and fast, to fastest around Burgerking, to slow and frugal, to fast and frugal………

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Anyone see the Kia K900 with the pope bubble on the roof in South Korea a week or 2 ago?

  • avatar
    Noble713

    Interesting article, Jack.

    It’s the same if you look at men’s fashion magazines. Armani suit, Rolex watch, etc. They make it look like you need $15,000 worth of clothing to get the babe hanging on the guy’s arm.

    But any man worth a damn should be able to wear a $300 tailored suit from Hong Kong and a $60 Fossil watch…and still have that babe fiending for him.

    As you’ve highlighted, the message of all this aspirational crap is largely

    “You could achieve this excitement, *IF* you had our product.”

    To which I pose the question to the potential buyers: “Why aren’t you achieving that excitement, WITHOUT the product?” I think for most men, that sort of introspection leads to really uncomfortable answers. Because they never hit that point in their life where they were raw-dogging cuties in the back of their jalopy….and they never will.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    It isn’t simply that aspirational products don’t give purchasers the image boost that they’re looking for. It’s that purchasing aspirational products is, for many, actually counterproductive if the purpose of the purchase is to enhance or create an image.

    Leaving shallowness and vanity as negatives aside for a moment, the reality is that for most of the people most of the time, driving a supercar makes them look like the worst sort of desparate d-bag. A tiny fraction of people can “pull off” a Bentley or Ferrari or whatever, and the Venn diagram of people who are naturally stylish/good-looking enough to really make it work and people with enough money to buy these cars has an incredibly tiny overlap. Mostly, it’s trophy spouses.

    • 0 avatar

      Honestly, the Continental GT doesn’t come across as being driven by a “d-bag” until it’s been customized and given a ridiculous paint job. The driver could honestly just be someone’s well-off grandfather who wanted a really nice car. Ditto for the Ferrari. Lamborghini, on the other hand, is targeted more at “youthful” people, so the d-bag description is a little more on-target some of the time. But it doesn’t take a d-bag to appreciate the fact that these cars are very good at what they do and are excellently crafted, and it’s a shame that driving such cars has become a paradigm for being a jerk.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Disagree. To the traditional Bentley customer, the CGT reeks of new money.

        The way not to look like a D-bag in a nice car is to have bought it long ago, and still own it. Where I come from, the older guy with the mint ’89 560SL or 560SEL is invariably richer or from better breeding than the guy with the brand new S550 or SL63 AMG.

      • 0 avatar
        korvetkeith

        CGTs are for trashy people with no taste. At least that’s who initially gravitated to them, thereby cementing the reputation. I don’t want to own any car that Paris Hilton does. JMO

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      If that’s how you see people who you’ve never met driving one of these cars, then you’re merely projecting your own insecurities. If you stop and talk to most of the people who drive cars like this, you’ll find they’re pretty cool and usually willing to chat about the car in the right setting.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        This is true, only bitter people think like this, most people think exotics are cool, and most exotic drivers are cool.

        Besides, everyone’s a DB at one point or another.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        The difference is when they *drive* them like d-bags.

        However, I can honestly say that of all the Rolls, Bentlys, Farraris, etc., I’ve encountered on the road, very few were driven like d-bags. (Also, despite all the hate the very wealthy get, of the many I’ve known, they’ve almost always been great people. I believe much of it is due to education & life experiences that wealth affords, I also believe that people who are genuinely good tend to hold on to their wealth better than assholes, because if you can’t treat people well, why would anyone expect you to treat money well?)

  • avatar
    Fred

    I see used Bentleys and Rolls for sale at the price of a Camry and think why not? Then I think of my lifestyle which is nothing like what the marketers suggest. Frankly I’d be too self conscious rolling up to the local store for a 6-pack of beer and chips? I’m a little sad that I won’t have a really nice car all because of how folks would perceive and expect of me.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      If you have access to a shop and can turn a wrench I think they are somewhat in reach. Since each is now being produced by what is essentially a mainstream manufacturer from 2002 forward, the amount of shared parts/tech may allow a BMW or VAG tech to maintain his own vs the earlier RR proprietary models.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        It’s probably just me, but I can’t see financing a Lamborghini or a Ferrari – If I bought one, it’d be because I could afford to buy it outright.

        And if I had that kind of money, I’d also have the TIME necessary to maintain it myself because I wouldn’t need to work.

        Strange combination of spendthrift and cheap, I guess.

        “$2,800 for an oil change?! You’re havin’ a Turkish, ain’tcha you mug?!”

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        I would much rather try to maintain a “true” Bentley or RR (i.e. stuff ending with Turbo R and Silver Spirit, maybe Arnage or Silver Seraph).

        These are still quite simple, and designed to be maintained by chaffeurs, not specialised service centers. And while parts may be super-expensive, they’re still made to last.

        Think of the Turbo R/Silver Spirit as a very, very posh Panther, that will last forever with occasional outrageous parts bills.

        • 0 avatar

          Honestly, the reason the pre-VW-era Bentleys are easier to maintain is because they were extremely antiquated by the time they were phased out, in MY2010. The Mulsanne is a little more complicated than those other cars and seems to use Audi’s electronics suite (as opposed to the Continental and Flying Spur, which use Volkswagen electronics), but it’s definitely closer to the spirit of the “true” Bentleys you speak of. In fact, it’s pretty much the successor to the Arnage. And I hear that Bentley will be making coupe and cabriolet spinoffs of the Mulsanne (what the Brooklands and Azure were to the Arnage).

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            Yeah, I know that Mulsanne is closer to the old Bentleys (6 3/4 engine, RWD) than to the Contis. I also wouldn’t touch a Conti with a 10-feet pole. New ones depreciate at horrible rate, which I couldn’t stomach unless my annual income was 10 times higher than the thing’s price, and used ones are a bitch to maintain.

            On the other hand, I can imagine owning a Turbo R. Not so sure about the Arnage, as I feat it will already be too complicated to maintain.

            And if I was really filthy rich, I would buy a Brooklands (the last one) in a heartbeat.

          • 0 avatar

            A late Brooklands or Azure will run you about the price that a brand-new Continental GT would. I wonder why…

          • 0 avatar
            Vojta Dobeš

            Hm, maybe the fact that brand new Brooklands did cost about twice as much as the Conti has something to do it.

            But the fact that the Brooklands will probably last more than a new Conti may be important as well.

  • avatar
    Driver7

    Excellent article, Jack.
    Thanks for the link to The Last Psychiatrist post – entertaining and insightful.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    What I love most about cars in this category, the Bentley CGT, Bens SLS AMG and Aston Martin Vanquish for example, is being able to drive them and give them back. It would take a pretty good leap in income for me to not care about the costs of care and feeding these beasts, but I’m always happy to have one for the afternoon.

  • avatar
    DCicch

    Who wears their (presumably very expensive) watch into a lake?

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Id imagine a Rolex Submariner being OK to withstand being submerged in a couple feet of water.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I do. I bought an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean a few years back, and it has been in lakes, scuba diving, surfing, etc. It’s a hardy stainless steel dive watch and I’m going to use it. The only time it generally comes off my wrist is wrenching on the car, going to the gym, or doing yard work.

      Yeah, the band has a couple of scuffs now, but better to wear it every day and get my money’s worth out of it than let it sit in a padded case looking pretty.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        When I went Snorkeling & Scuba Diving in Cozumel while wearing my el cheapo 100m Wenger watch many, many years ago, it developed a tenacious smell of seafood and marine life in the battery compartment, even though it was dry as a bone in there when I went to put a new battery in there.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    It’s an interesting read but so much of the skinflintery that is in the comments is a bit much to bother with. Social anxiety and resentment runs rampant in the comments with the threats of being less than because they chose to spend their money ‘unwisely’ is a bit much. Take a look around your house, I’m sure there are value judgments you made that I would not (perhaps in vehicles, TVs, hobbies, etc) and to make those judgments without recognizing their inherent subjectivity is a bit dishonest.

    That being said a Bentley in concept shares some tech with their VW stable mates, but they also get finely appointed interiors and a slew of other goodies that for 180K is worthwhile to some. To me, give it 10 more years and all those aging convertibles that have 60K miles on them only will be in the 20s to 30s and totally worth while as a 2nd or 3rd car for weekend touring and pleasure driving. If I went and got my JD to get involved in lobbyist work I could make the kind of money to afford one but I just don’t see the value in it to me, but again, I don’t have that kind of money so it’s an irrelevant argument but I don’t begrudge those who choose to buy them on some weird esoteric hobnobbery of car design.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The flip side to this skinflintery (great word, BTW):

      I know a guy who never ever buys the car he really wants, even though he can afford it. He always chickens-out and buy something slightly cheaper.

      Thing is, he ends-up hating those cars after three years, sells them at a huge loss, and buys something else he will end-up hating.

      If you do the math, he’s spent way more money getting stuff he doesn’t want or like than he would have buying something nice in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      There has long been a huge streak of puritanism in the “Best and Brightest”. Presumably anyone who buys anything more expensive than the average CamCordFusima MUST be doing it solely for the brand image, because otherwise there can be no possible reason to spend more on a car.

      But as I like to say in response, if what makes a (BMW, Bentley, whatever) cost more than a Camry is not immediately obvious to you, spend the money on something else that makes you happy.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Agreed, khrodes1. Like it or not, brands do mean something, and there are a lot of tangible reasons to select the Audi over the Volkswagen, the Cadillac over the Buick, the Lexus over the Toyota.

        Rarely is a luxury car considered a “value”.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Is the wealthiest man, the man who needs the least?

  • avatar

    Great article. It is true that you only see the beautiful young people in the brochure and even humdrum stuff like 911s are mostly driven by old men who have taken all their careers to be able to avoid such things.

    Personally I consider Bentley to be a tarnished brand due to the hip hoppers and footballers who have taken to them, I have no interest in ever owning one but quite like the idea of an Aston Martin even though their engines are aeons old and the performance lags behind the various competitors

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Another good piece of authoring by Jack. This comment that was written at the end of his story is great and it explains a significant amount about humans and our behavior.

    “What you want is excitement, sex, the thrill of youth. Could you have some of it in a Continental GT? Of course not. But if you want to kid yourself about it…”

    Marketing is about perception, regardless of age. The marketer must attract and promote the sense of not having leaves you a hollow person and others will notice.

    Marketing, persuades you to lie to yourself and others. So is marketing all about lying or persuasion?

    Perception has amazing power. You can witness this by the way some on TTAC present their stories and comments. And some of those stories are so unbelievable. Why?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I can’t imagine anyone “in the know” willing to pay top dollar for a ultra lux brand that shared a platform with ANY other vehicle. Doesn’t matter if that platform is from a Kia or an even more expensive super car.

    Buying a ultra lux with a shared platform is like buying a used city bus and using it to be chauffeured in.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      ” is like buying a used city bus and using it to be chauffeured in.”

      Are you NUTS ?! .

      After finding a decent Flxible with a 6V92 Detroit ‘ Road Oiler ‘ and V – Drive , you think I’d _EVER_ let anyone else drive it ?! ..
      stop smoking that gunja mon .

      -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Hummer
      “I can’t imagine anyone “in the know” willing to pay top dollar for a ultra lux brand that shared a platform with ANY other vehicle.”

      Were you not one of those attempting to convince me that an Escalade was great value?

      When in fact as I pointed out it is a highly pimped Silverado wagon.

      What’s the difference? Because it’s Euro?

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      A.) Who’s ‘in the know?’

      B.) Who cares enough to figure out that the Bentley is secretly some quasi-VW?

      I’ve known a few Bentley drivers, they rarely care about A or B.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Hummer,

      Didn’t the H2 share its platform with lesser (or at least cheaper) GM SUVs?

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        The H2 was built on a modified pickup frame consisting of half a 2500 series and half a 1500 series. It really was it’s own platform, even if it shared some parts through the entire GM truck range.

        The H3 however was built on the Colorado/Canyon platform.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @Hummer

      And yet I would much prefer the Phaeton over either the A8 or the Bentley. Because it is not “shouty”. It has every bit of the build quality, engineering, and interior refinement of the Bentley, without any the bling. Presumably that is why Jack owned two of them as well.

      If I had any use at all for a giant 4dr sedan, I would have one in the garage right now. They don’t scare me. Cant be any worse to live with than my old Range Rover.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Meh… all marketing is about zooming the dumb and the desperate. Promising to fulfill physically impossible desires is as old as religion. Why is it a revelation that the same holds true for flashy cars?

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Nice to read some Blue Chip truth.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Obsessing relentlessly about brand and status, and overthinking it, leads to insanity. The kind of insanity that buys two redundant VWs instead of one Bentley, to show (to somebody) the ability to afford the Bentley, but to also show (to somebody) the inside knowledge that a half price VW is kind of similar.
    Someone not overthinking it would have probably bought one LS 460L. And then they would have a high quality car and a high level dealership experience, instead of a low quality car and an abusive dealership experience.
    The Lexus would leave that person more than enough for a good condition 6 3/4 litre Continental for the summer.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      A used, well taken care of Lexus LS430 is a much higher quality car (especially in brown) than a new LS460, and can be had for 1/3 to 1/4 of the price, as a bonus.

      Just sayin’.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        People buying cars in this range (and not overreaching) don’t have the time to deal with a used off warranty daily drivers, even from the “good” Toyota years.
        An LS 460 was about the most respectful of one’s time away from the dealership car in that range that a person could buy around 2007.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      “Obsessing relentlessly about brand and status, and overthinking it, leads to insanity. The kind of insanity that buys two redundant VWs instead of one Bentley”

      There’s no insanity to buying two VW Phaetons, you need one as a parts car. Jack was probably taking the whole Redneck thing upscale to a whole new demographic, with the 2nd Phaeton under a tarp out back up on blocks, and next to the burn barrel and the Little Tykes toys strewn around the yard.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @racer-esq

      Some of us drive what we drive for reasons other than brand status. I shelled out for a BMW because nobody else makes a station wagon (which fits my lifestyle) that drives anywhere near as well. And if I was in the market for a giant 4dr sedan, a Phaeton would be #1 with a bullet on my list BEACUSE it just looks like a plain old Passat, while having the interior and ride and handling of a Bentley. All the luxury in a plain wrapper appeals to me greatly.

      A Lexus LS is a perfect luxury car for someone who doesn’t actually care about driving, as they drive about like my living room sofa. Great if that is what you are looking for, but that doesn’t do much for me. And I find Lexus to be a very “shouty” brand.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    To paraphrase Katt Williams:
    The f_cked-up part is the Continental GT/Flying Spur do look like a Bentley. . . Until a Bentley pull up.

  • avatar
    AFX

    One of the sad realities of life is that by the time you’ve “made it” you’re too old for it to do you any good. Maybe that Bently brochure should have included a few free samples of Viagra in order to appeal more to their target demographic.

    I see “sporty” cars being driven in real life all the time, and also high end luxury cars. Always in the advertising you see some rich younger “alpha male”, with his equally young hot looking female companion in the passenger’s seat. In reality whenever I see an expensive sportscar or high-end luxury car being driven it’s by some old dude in his 60’s, and he has his 60 year old WIFE in the passenger’s seat !. My thought is “What the hell is the point ?!”. You’ve spent all that money to buy a sexy expensive car, and it’s not going to do you any good. You might as well go out and get a cheap Crown Vic or a Lincoln Continental if you want to haul around 60 year old broads in the passenger’s seat. At that point you might as well go out and buy a minivan.

    The sad thing is that the 20-something kid in the riced out Neon SRT or Subaru WRX is getting more hot tail than the old guy in his $100,000+ supercar. Hell, the guy on the $5,000 crotch rocket is probably getting more hot chicks.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Yeah, how dare a 60-year-old man enjoy a country drive in a high-end luxury sedan or sports car with the love of his life that he’s been married to for 40 years? Gee, what a loser!

      Not.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        +1 to that, from a a guy who will celebrate his 40th anniversary in a few months.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Good on you Bruce ! .

          I won’t live that long but I’m *very* pleased to have my Lady beside me , she may no longer be young but I don’t care .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            I’m planing ,and looking forward to a ride in the country , this Thursday . With my trophy wife of 41 years.

            A six year old base model Mustang convertible ,with the top down., the fall colours, a little road side tavern , and a cold beer.

            Come on Thursday!

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Actually, if you think owning a particular car is “going to do you any good” presumably in attracting women, it’s NEVER going to do you any good.

      Owning an expensive car identifies you as a person with money or at least access to credit. It is certainly true that certain women are attracted to men with money.

      Those men are well advised to seek legal counsel and have them draw up a good prenup prior to “tying the knot,” because that knot will, sooner or later, become “untied.”

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      @AFX,

      There’s nothing wrong with a trophy car and a trophy wife.

      But as Matt Foley points out and DC Bruce shows, there’s everything right with taking a country drive with the love of your life.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        ” There’s nothing wrong with a trophy car and a trophy wife.

        But as Matt Foley points out and DC Bruce shows, there’s everything right with taking a country drive with the love of your life.”

        I have both of these worlds all in one .

        My idea of trophy car and trophy Wife , doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” Nate,

    You father was an oncologist, he did not cure or try to cure cancer, he diagnosed and treated it, very different.”

    Please do not address that with you know nothing about .

    My father acquired funding and set up research teams , labs and so on all across America and in Canada and Hawaii .

    Yes , he treated treated cancer patients , this is part and parcel of research .

    AFIK , no one has ever cured cancer yet , we’re still hopeful .

    He recently died in a Hospice Care facility he helped to set up , surrounded by the Staff he worked with for decades .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Well you should have done a better job stating that he also did research and not make him sound like he was just a normal oncologist. I am not a mind reader. Your original statement said oncologist and patients, that’s it. Don’t get pissy when you failed to provide all the adequate information. I assume that daddy sent you to a decent university so you should have been taught this already.

      Your dad died in a hospice facility he help set up, surrounded by his staff, umm okay, what exactly does that have to do with anything? Also, your screen name has your name in it already, what is with people like you that feel the need to sign your name again at the end of the post, you do know it just screams of douchebaggery, right? I don’t know you that well, or at all, but I kind of get the vague impression you have spent the greater part of your life riding the coattails of your dad’s work and accomplishments. Maybe it is time for you to become your own man.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like he was very wise, on top of the research and patient care. Hospice has certainly made death easier. (Both of my parents died under hospice care.)

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Your late father deserves thanks for aspiring higher.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Amen

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Thank you .

          He did pretty well for a Boy from The North Bronx….

          He knew bupkis about cars but knew what he liked , in 1962 he bought a 1937 Bentley St. James Coupe in Belgium and had it shipped home , drove it for many years until my idiot older brother the Machinist left it in an unheated garage in Rochester in January , popped a 1″ hole out of the alloy cylinder head , Pops junked it (!) .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    My one neighbor had the Continental GT when it was exclusive before it became the Camry of high end cars. I drove it quite a bit and it is worth the money. It always got lots of attention, it is very fast, powerful and smooth and the interior is fantastic with leather from top to bottom. As a top, well formerly top, NBA player he owns/owned just about everything and the reality is the most expensive cars are generally worth the money whether people like it or not or just don’t want to believe it.

    You have to remember you can’t really put a dollar amount of the prestige and cachet there is when you pull up with a Bentley or better yet a Rolls Royce Phantom and definitely a bright orange Lamborghini Aventador roadster. Good or bad people talk about you and good or bad, they respect you too.

    People can talk smack about the Continental GT all day, but you go to areas with super rich people and they are all around, like well, Camrys. L.A., Palm Beach, Miami Beach, etc etc. They’ve been out for a long time, look basically the same and wealthy people are still buying them, so they must be good.

    Also, a little FYI, don’t judge the really rich guy by what you see him drive in the town where he works, judge him by what he drives at his vacation home. Already mentioned it above, but I will add a few more examples. Buddy here in town owns a large company, drives an Escalade to work 99% of the time, has an old F430 he drives once in awhile, house here was about $600,000 or so. However, he has a $20 million house in Palm Beach with a brand new Rolls Royce Phantom and Ferrari 599 down there. Another guy I know runs a brokerage house, drives a $20,000 car to work because he told me when your clients see you driving expensive cars when you handle their money, they don’t trust you. House is relatively modest for someone that makes millions a year. However, his vacation house out of state cost millions and his cars the same. Neighbor across the street is a bank president, sometimes he wears a Timex Triathlon, sometimes he wears a Vacheron Constantin, so depending on what day you met him, you might think he is some super cheap, frugal guy.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      There are some people that think there is no good reason to get a Bentley. There are other people that think there is no good reason to get a Bentley unless it has a 6 3/4 litre twin turbo pushrod V8 and unique platform. The TTAC Continental GT critics are in the latter category.
      The Continental GT isn’t a very expensive watch. It is a very expensive quartz watch.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Another guy I know runs a brokerage house, drives a $20,000 car to work because he told me when your clients see you driving expensive cars when you handle their money, they don’t trust you.”

      Truth. Lest they experience the backlash of the proletariat. We see it in the comments here. Heck, whenever I get a new car I don’t want to drive it to the sitter’s house.

      When I started out in the auto body repair biz and moved into estimating and eventually a succession plan for that business, the 75 year old Italian owner of the shop gave me an anecdote and some wise advise. He said when the shop really took off in the 70’s, they were doing well. He went and bought himself a brand new Mark V. The first day he drove it to work, a long time customer and he were arguing over an estimate. The customer said something along the lines of, “Look at that brand new Lincoln, you’re doing pretty well for yourself, you don’t need to charge me so much.”

      The owner replied with, “Are you kidding? I have to charge you more now to pay for it!”

      He never drove the Lincoln to work again. People judge you by your things. If you look like you’re doing better than people think you should, they’ll hate you. They’ll want to take it from you and if they can’t take it they’ll want you to lose it. Your own family, even.

      So there’s very good reasons to be discreet with one’s wealth. Somewhat akin to not sh1tting where you eat.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Sandbagging your car for image reasons is a fairly old tradition going far back to doctors and lawyers that could well afford a Caddy buying a Buick or Olds instead.

        It isn’t just to show that your fees are reasonable, it is also to show that you are prudent. Being stupid with cars is the number two reason after baby mammas that most NFL stars end up poor and bankrupt. People don’t want to see the same trait in a financial planner.

        Don’t act like your boss’es customer was some kind of Bolshevik, not overpaying is a fairly conservative principle.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          ” Being stupid with cars is the number two reason after baby mammas that most NFL stars end up poor and bankrupt.”

          Citation needed. Cars, lousy investment though they are, are still an asset. If you blow $250k on a Lamborghini, as long as you don’t completely ruin it, you can sell it for $100k later. Things like making it rain in the club, keeping it real and sharing with your posse, and investing in everyone of all your cousins’ limp-D business plans is far more likely to screw an NFL star than a couple H2s and 6-4s.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            There are a number of reasons that 78% of NFL players are bankrupt in 2 years after playing. But losing $150K on ONE purchase excluding taxes, maintenance, insurance, interest, and any likely “pimping”, all overpaid for, is a good start.

            I think Jack’s $80K of pre-tax income per year all in to lease a Continental GT is slightly high, but there is a lot more to an expensive car than the lease or the purchase price minus the sales price.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Don’t act like your boss’es customer was some kind of Bolshevik, not overpaying is a fairly conservative principle.”

          It was just a story about how some people react to shows of wealth. Perhaps the estimate was fair and the was merely trying to use the Lincoln as leverage. That was my boss’ take as the customer was a long time one and apparently didn’t take issue with the price of quality work prior to the arrival of the shiny new Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “People judge you by your things. If you look like you’re doing better than people think you should, they’ll hate you. They’ll want to take it from you and if they can’t take it they’ll want you to lose it. Your own family, even.”

            Pretty emotional reaction to people not wanting to overpay for body shop work.

            Maybe the customer was using it for leverage, or maybe the customer was being lazy about cross shopping and checking out the competition, and the Lincoln was a wakeup call. The customer was just being smart about his money. That’s how the customer gets a Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            That wasn’t my reaction. If you read the comment, that was the lesson the old man was trying to impart. That was a paraphrase.

            Get ripped off on some body work lately?

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        @racer-esq – It’s funny how this all works. If you’re a software developer, you’re somewhat ‘expected’ to be driving a BMW, Audi or Merc. If you don’t – maybe you’re not so good? But someone who is a tradesman? Wellll – if your plumber, mechanic, roofer or electrician drives one of those, that SOB must be gouging you silly.

        I say that all somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but in my own line of work I had clients give my (now ten year old) A3 a second glance and then start questioning our invoices at the next billing cycle.

        People are funny.

  • avatar

    As I currently am trying to retail a Continental GT Speed we’ve acquired for some reason, I can say only one thing – VAG Drooping Headliner Disease is highly contagious.

    I will also say that in my time retailing used cars, the folks with the worst attitudes are not the monied; its the young to middle-aged wannabes. You can see them for a mile away; they’re the ones for whom nothing is good enough, yet they’re kicking tires at my lot because God knows that can’t qualify to buy the new car they expect the 5 year-old one with 60k miles to be.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I was intrigued by the comment of gtemnykh above concerning the Mercedes W126. And funnily enough, those Benzes were designed just before the huge rework areas at Mercedes’ plants were “discovered” about 1990 and written about in “The Machine That Changed the World”, causing DB to redesign their cars to be cheap replicars due to the embarassment of not being Toyota.

    50 years ago, Volvo decided to open a car assembly plant in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Well, it was just reassembly of CKD kits, really. The 122S became the Volvo Canadian, just for us. These cars typically cost more than Chevs and Fords, so had to be marketed somewhat aspirationally.

    Things went well, and to increase assembly space, Volvo moved to a larger plant across the harbour in Halifax a few years later when the 144S burst upon the scene. TV ads flaunted Volvo’s average 17 year life in Sweden while some nutcase drove 80mph down a dirt road in the background looking for a Skol lager. Other ads touted their precision design.

    One particular TV ad showed people using a 2 by 6 wood plank on an ostensible Detroit assembly line, under the door and above the sill on a ’60s land yacht, which one hefty guy jumped up and down on. After each jump, he hopped off, and checked the door for fit! Great ad. The premise was obvious: Volvos fit together properly. Buy yourself some real quality.

    Well soon our provincial premier Mr. Smith was driving a Volvo, and Halifax patrolmen swollen by coffee and donuts were finding that no, two fat cops could not fit in the front of a 122S. They preferred the ’65 LTD.

    So I was finishing up a mechanical engineering degree in 1969, owned a rusted out 1960 PV544 which had just blown its cam gear at 136,000 miles, and our class got the invite to tour the Volvo plant. Oh joy! They were starting to assemble the new 164 too. Even better.

    It was a busy place, and the guy who attached all the wires under the dash was amazingly fast. Our guide was unable to assure us that he was also accurate. It seemed impossible to be that quick even with practice.

    At the end of the assembly line after they red-lined the engine a couple times with the car on rollers, two guys with a two by six board were adjusting the door fits. I sh*t you not.

    Major downer.

    Never bought another Volvo. Hate being duped by false advertising.

    Most of the 240s some people go on about here came out of that plant. At least the paint was thick enough you couldn’t even spot the “adjustments”, so there’s that.

    I have never been more than mildly amused by advertising since then. And then only by the ads themselves, never the product. Projecting a persona by flaunting the products you buy only impresses the other airheads – that’s what aspiration is. The reality is moving the goods to keep to a factory production schedule.

    Making something good just for the sake of it now only happens with small companies, before they make it big and have payroll to meet. Merecedes Benz might well have been the last big company who really did try to make superior cars. They were then shamed for rework and confused poor assembly processes with the quality of the product itself, which was never really in doubt to that point. Pity.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    You’re in Ann Arbor, or Austin, or Columbus on a Saturday afternoon, looking to catch someone’s eye.

    How well does a Corvette work? Not at all. How well would a Bentley work? Only well enough to identify you as the creepy old man who drove a Bentley to Ann Arbor. How well does a $60,000 truck work? Beautifully in College Station, probably not bad everywhere else.

    What works? From personal experience, a shined up eight year old Miata isn’t bad so long as it isn’t raining. A Morris Minor or an original Mini are the nuclear options.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Read Jack’s column in the latest R&T; apparently a C7 works fine.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I am in downtown Ann Arbor, not by choice, at least once a month, and am skeptical of Jack’s claim, to put it mildly.

        There is the same overpowering waft of “ewww, an oil using, gasoline burning, carbon dioxide emitting motor vehicle” in the air (and in the looks on the faces of “let me just walk in front of your car without rhyme or reason” college girls who don’t bother to shave their armpits or legs) as there was when I went to undergrad there in the late 90s.

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