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His Kingdom for a big block.
I am confused. My firmament has been rent.
The Germans stood for Autobahn Values. Even the cheap ones would hang up to the limit of horsepower, and feel good doing it. They don't anymore. I go to the BMW store and I'm not thrilled about the new 3. I love my e46 and lust for the e90 335d Sport, and the E90 M3. What happened?
I drove a Kia Optima recently. They steal from everyone, but the car overall was better than expected. My VW Mk 6 has better in-car electronics included than you have to pay big for in some new high end German cars. I drove an ATS. I loved it. I didn't understand the dash, but the car felt right.
Things are in flux. It is confusing. Can I just get a big block with F41 to go?
Croton on Hudson, New York
Learning to live in a world of reduced expectations.
99 per center income precludes the purchase of a pricey new Audi sports car? No problem: $5K is all it takes to pick up a teenybopper TT that no one will be able to tell apart from the car being displayed this week in Geneva. Hankering for the prestige of a premium German sedan but can't come up with the scratch for a costly new A8? Not to worry: any year, any size, they all look the same; just grab any old A off Craigslist. Thank you Audi for finally providing an answer to income inequality: design monotony.
San Francisco, California
The first time I saw that new Cadillac ELR TV spot with Swaggo, Mr. all-American success guy, I chuckled at the writing. Not bad, thinks I. Odd that they'd focus on America's legendary overwork reputation at the expense of the French as a bragging point, but what the hey. It's delivered with panache.
The second time I saw it, I looked more closely at the film itself and chuckled at the site of Swaggo in his shorts as he struts through his palatial mansion, high-fiving and full of hubris. The shorts are not a good look, thinks I. Who made that decision?
The third time I saw it, it dawned on me that the nervy writing was not just quite a slap at the French, but really, all of Europe. Then I thought about GM and its incredibly steep uphill battle to sell cars, Cadillacs included, in Europe. And how, if I lived over there, I might take some serious umbrage at a car company that just told me I was a lazy slacker in no uncertain terms, and probably vow never to set foot in anything made by GM.
And I wonder again, who made that decision?
Hope springs eternal, sort of.
I also want the TUDOR series to succeed and hope they can have more "real racing" at Sebring. What is disappointing, however, is the TV coverage. Three hours at the beginning of the race and that's all? Not everyone has access to streaming, etc. and even those who do may not prefer to view the race this way. The hard core fans will find a way to make things work, but the fringe fan may not make the effort, and that's the group the series needs to attract and retain. The NASCAR influence is being felt - no left & right turn races will be allowed to steal any fans from watching their show.
Still delusional after all these years.
I was at Le Mans in 2000 where Cadillac had a presence on the track with 2 vehicles and a huge presence off the track in magazines, on lampposts, with production vehicles. They were announcing that in three years there would be 20,000 Cadillacs on the streets of Paris.
Many years later I saw the sales figures of US-built vehicles in all of Europe. GM's sales for all countries was 1400 vehicles in about 10 countries. GM has fallen, they can't even be as ludicrous as they once were.
Boonton, New Jersey
Editor-in-Chief's Note: The GM/Cadillac effort surrounding their foray into prototype racing was a modern day case study on how it's not done. The cars lacked development and weren't ready to compete at the highest level of sports car racing, and that was bad enough. Even worse, GM decided to fly 300+ journalists over to Le Mans to take in the race and then attend a major media event in Italy immediately after the race with all of GM's top executives. Needless to say, the on-track performance of the cars was a disaster, with one of the Cadillac prototypes going up in flames - literally - early on in the race on international television. It was the quintessential example of over-promise and under-deliver. Ironically enough, in the third year of that program the cars were actually gaining strength and performance and regularly nipping at the heels of the all-conquering Audi prototypes. But just when the effort was starting to come together GM pulled the plug on it, in classic GM fashion, of course. Bob Lutz told me afterward that the reason they pulled out was because the cost of developing direct fuel-injection to compete with Audi was staggeringly expensive and they couldn't afford it. But of course GM went on to develop direct fuel-injection for use in just about all of its products so that explanation didn't wash. The real reason is that GM lacked the fundamental will to compete in major league sports car racing in prototypes, because to go up against manufacturers like Audi and Porsche you have to be deeply committed at the highest levels of the company. GM wasn't. And when you think about it, it's a miracle that the highly-successful Corvette Racing program has managed to survive all of these years in that kind of atmosphere. - PMD
Where does NASCAR go from here?
As we watch the continued decline of NASCAR, both in live attendance and TV viewers, a thought occurred to me. On one hand there is nothing to take its place. No other sport can draw its numbers every weekend. So it would seem that its future revenues are secure. On the other hand, at what point do the car manufacturers drastically cut their support? I would imagine however that the top teams now could exist without the manufacturers support, albeit on a tighter budget. I would love to hear your opinion on the matter.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Once upon a time, back in its heyday (approximately 2003-2006), NASCAR was being touted as the second most popular sport in the U.S. after the NFL. I recall one memorable cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline "NASCAR Nation!" in the midst of the frenzy, it was that pervasive. But that was in a galaxy far, far away from where NASCAR finds itself today. In-person race attendance has been in decline since 2007, TV ratings have declined or remain flat - even for the big races - yet the powers that be in NASCAR continue to act as if the world revolves around them. Why is that? For one thing manufacturer involvement has remained steady, although the manufacturers have demanded - and won - substantive changes from NASCAR. (NASCAR likes to say that the "Gen 6" car happened because of their vision. Not true. It was pressure from the manufacturers that pushed NASCAR to abandon the dreaded "Car of Tomorrow" and make the cars more stock in appearance.) But I can assure you that manufacturer interest in NASCAR is crumbling, and in fact one manufacturer in particular is right on the edge of redirecting its budget elsewhere. But that all said, the reason NASCAR survives is not because of the manufacturers - although they play a huge role, at least 50 percent - it's because of television revenue. As sick as it sounds, the declining numbers associated with NASCAR have almost become a moot point (all one has to do is see the empty grandstands at a Nationwide race to understand how warped the situation is.) Television entities are so hungry for content - any content - that NASCAR fulfills a need that few properties can. Now NASCAR, delusional as always of course, attributes it to the fact that their "show" is so compelling. That's not true either. It's because the TV networks are sponges for content, wherever they can get it. Will this situation continue indefinitely? No, I believe that NASCAR will continue down a path toward becoming marginalized, sort of the "Sideshow Bob" of the televised sports world. Despite fiddling with the format of "The Chase" the fact remains that NASCAR hasn't addressed its fundamental issues, which revolve around the fact that there are too many races, the schedule is the most ludicrous in all of sports (and that's saying something with the NBA and NHL around), the technology used is irrelevant to the auto manufacturers, and they have done zero to address the fact that few young people are interested in the sport on any level. In other words, there are far too many negatives associated with NASCAR for it to continue on indefinitely in its present form. - PMD
I attended the NASCAR races (August) at Michigan International Speedway every year from 1993 through 2005. When I started attending, the track held about 115k fans and I could get awesome seats for about $30~35 each. Over the years, the popularity of the sport increased and the powers in charge decided to remove all bleacher seats at the exit of turn 4 and replace them with massive aluminum high-rise structures that held twice as many people (if not more). By the way, a large polished aluminum structure in the August sun is not comfortable, you can hear the fans sizzling like bacon on a griddle! The extra seating went all the way around to the entrance of turn 3. Of course, my former seats now would cost me $85 each so I moved to a more "affordable" location near the middle of turns 3 and 4. The point of this is that NASCAR saw the they had a hot product and people were filling the seats. The "greed factor" took over and seating was expanded to allow even more fans to attend.
While this may have been a wonderful idea, nobody thought about the long term impact. Would the product still be as popular in 10 years? Is there a price limit to what fans will pay to be "in the action" or would they rather watch it on TV? NASCAR got greedy and has essentially created their own problem. It used to be where tickets for NASCAR races at Michigan were next to impossible to get, now, I am getting emails amost weekly begging me to "come back to the races" as there are plenty of seats available. I am describing the situation at one track, but would bet the same thing has taken place across the country.
The Cadillac thing.
The question of Cadillac's need for European sales a vexing one. The cultural preference by the Germans for German cars, and by the rest of wealthy Europe for German cars turn attempts by any non-European lux brand into a steeply uphill climb. Yet, to have credibility in the rest of the world, a lux brand needs to succeed in Europe, right? There seem only two possible alternatives to beating the Germans in Europe: 1) Find a rest-of-the-world marketing strategy that offers an attractive, alternative luxury motoring experience that isn't German-like performance, or 2) try to divide and conquer within the EU. At least Cadillac can attempt the first through it's legacy as Cadillac - Mr. DeLorenzo is on to something here. (By way of contrast, Lexus loses here as all it offers is more precision than the Germans, which won't cut it.) As for number two, I wonder if a marketing campaign in France, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, etc. that touted the best European sedan not made in Germa
ny (e.g., ATS, CTS) would have any resonance.
Palm Springs, California
I think Senator Corker deserves some "down" arrows for his comments, which went well beyond "expressing his views" -- rather, he issued a promise of benefits if they voted "no", and a thinly veiled threat if they voted "yes." Then NLRB will decide whether or not this constituted "interference" but to compare his comments to the President's is way off the mark.
From the "Freedom Lies In Being Bold" File.
Cadillac and Lincoln were successful American luxury cars because they were big, bold, bawdy and blingy. The antithesis of German "luxury". They have both lost their brand mojo. Cadillac is too busy trying to be BMW, and Lincoln is too busy trying to be anything but Lincoln. Their ultimate global appeal lies in their "American-ness", yet they are too blind to see.
Royal Oak, Michigan
Big Daddy haulin' ass in Europe.
I remember being five years old and riding in the back seat of my uncle's Buick Skylark on some big roads north of Naples, Italy. Out for summer Sunday drives.
He was in the US Navy and had a book of cheap gas ration cards. I swear that he'd pull into some gas station filled with dinky little cars and he'd fill up his tank (half the station's capacity) for less money than those poor people paid to fill their Cinquecentos.
Then we'd be back on the road, at a nice and steady 80 mph while we passed everything... including the cops who did not bother us because it was obvious he was a US serviceman and wasn't drunk (he had his family with him).
That, to me is what an American car should be in Europe.
Cadillac should introduce a larger cruiser, four doors, two doors, convertible. Big High Tech Engine of at least five liters with a nice exhaust note and sell it to the Europeans. Going toe to toe with the Germans just won't cut it, but the Germans just don't do Cadillac as Cadillac used to.
Oh, on one of those Sunday drives we saw lots of rainbows over the horizon... we never got the pot of gold but, oh man!, did my uncle ever haul ass to see if we could. ;-)