Monday Morning Motoring Missive

It’s not a Monday, but after the Australia Day holiday yesterday it kind of feels like a Monday.

Historic Vision

Let’s start the week with a magical photo from one the companies that keeps on gaining traction on my automotive radar – Renault. Specifically, Renault’s sportier extensions: RenaultSport and Renault Alpine. This historic photo was spotted on Automobiliac and shows the Alpine factory in Dieppe chock full of A110s being prepped for racing.

Renault Alpine


Rare Vintage Saab Pricing

Good news for vintage Saab owners last week with a Saab 95 selling for $40,700 at auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Saab 95 at Gooding Auction

Image: Jeff Koch – Hemmings.

It’s a curious development, for sure. The car looks fantastic but it’s interesting that it’s pulled such a high price after being restored to a completely non-factory appearance. SaabWorld has more photos and the auction ad describing the work done on the car.



AutoExtremist Pete DeLorenzo is right on the money when he suggests that Corvette should break away from Chevrolet and become its own sports car brand. Corvette is without a smidgen of doubt GM’s most respected vehicle and the fact that’s its linked to vehicles like the Sonic and the Silverado, however tenuously, is just crazy.

I don’t agree with a three-model strategy for Corvette, however. Any theoretical strategy that mentions the Solstice/Sky twins (again, however tenuously) is a strategy that’s doomed. Corvette doesn’t need a ‘younger’ car. It just needs extremely capable cars, which is apparently what it’s got. Just keep making them better.


2012 Sales

Toyota have officially been named as the sales leader for 2012.

Toyota’s brands sold 9.75 million vehicles in 2012 opening a handy gap over GM with 9.29 million and then Volkswagen with 9.07 million.

Toyota’s 2012 sales were 22% up on 2011, which was adversely affected by poor press in the US (unintended acceleration stories) and supply problems after natural disasters in Asia. VW’s sales were an 11% rise on the year before, where GM’s sales were a rise of just 3%.

If those companies trend the same in 2013 as they did in 2012, expect VW to be the new world #2 at the end of this year.


Loose lips sink ships

Some former Saab people have been handing around images of vehicles that they shouldn’t have been. You’ll most likely see them quite soon as various publications chase the story.

What those former Saab people either overlooked, or maybe didn’t realise or care about so much, is that the release of those images causes some damage to the value of the work done by the design team, some of whom never got paid despite continuing to work right up to Saab’s bankruptcy.

I benefited plenty from leaked imagery in the past with TS and SU. I can understand why the recipients are chasing the story. It’s their job. I just hope it’s treated responsibly by all concerned (which is the one thing I always tried to do with leaked material). I also hope that those who are leaking this stuff think twice about the damage they might be doing.

That sounds rich coming from me, I know, but having this material is one thing, knowing how to treat it something else completely.



It’s nearly Superbowl time, which means new car ads. As is the way since the rise of Youtube, etc, the ad shown on the day is often just one part of a larger campaign that starts before the big game.

Here are some of the early starters……

Toyota use BBT’s Penny as a genie. Mixed results.

Audi encourage a bit of teenage hubris (and teenage speeding, which I don’t like in my old age).

I can’t believe Mercedes Benz allowed this. It’s a preview ‘teaser’ for the new compact CLA and it’s only half a step ahead of a GoDaddy ad in terms of being totally devoid of class.

What a stupid way to launch a new vehicle from such a storied carmaker.

Volkswagen have done some great superbowl ads in the last few years, the standout being the junior Darth Vader ad from a few years ago.

Apparently this is the real VW ad for the Superbowl this year:

Volkswagen have also released this ‘teaser’ online, which is a lot more satisfying to me as a story. Maybe the reason they’re using it as a web-only teaser is because it doesn’t feature a car. I still think it’s a better narrative, though.


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  1. Too bad those car commercials are not about the actual car anymore but some story around people that aren’t all that funny. Sell me the car, please. Lame… And yes, shame on Mercedes.

  2. I disagree with the second VW teaser. There’s enough violence in the world as it is. I don’t want to see it in a car commercial despite the turn around. O prefer the main one.

    The audi commercial is better than last years’ so that’s something.

    And Mercedes should fire the person who came up with the idea of this ad. Its unimaginative, tells you nothing about mercedes, or what their new car represents.

  3. The detail and finish of that 95 is amazing but its strange someone would use all that time to restore a saab and then paint it in some Mercedes wine color and seats. It’s kinda bizarre but as you say -interesting.

    1. There is a lesson in this (for NEVS). Make what sells.

      Nice work Mercedes.
      Anyone buying a CLA will now be looked at some who needs a car to pick up a hot blond. And I though born from the jets was bad.

  4. For what it’s worth, Go Daddy stopped running offensive ads last summer, after a change in management and advertising agencies:

    I’m really surprised that M-B would go in that direction. It’s the kind of campaign that says “Are you an imbecile? Have we got a car for you!”
    It totally dilutes their usual North American branding (cars that publicly display your personal success). As such, it may have a far-reaching impact. I’m not sure they can sell enough CLAs to make-up for lost sales to their traditional customers.

  5. Hmm…I am not sure the new VW campaign of “Get Happy” is really going to work or help their sales much here in the U.S. Apart from the nostalgia of the song (which only really works for people over the age of 40…is that the market that VW wants to target?)….it does not make me more interested in VW cars.

  6. “Fresh from reclaiming its crown as the world’s largest automaker, Toyota has been hit by another major recall.
    The Japanese carmaker said Wednesday it was recalling more than 1 million vehicles sold in the United States over faulty airbags and windshield wipers.” – (1/30/13
    “Clearly, fame isn’t everything” (Harry Potter)
    Me, I still prefer Saabs.

  7. I see the ads are in ascending order of crapness depending on the supposed “quality” or “luxury” of the marque:

    So the Toyota one is funny and rather good. Cars are not that important in the grand scheme of things, and none of us are taking this too seriously, so this will do nicely.

    The VW ones are rather disturbing. We VW drivers don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do so in a rather maniacal and FORCED way. Wanna join our zany gang?

    The Audi one is, as one would expect, unintentionally hilarious. This car will make your tiny penis bigger, sonny.

    The Mercedes one is inexplicable. Is it her car? Is she sexy because she drives this car? Are the men mentally washing her body? Is all that soap … OK, I get it now.

  8. VW is great at advertising their weaknesses. Think of the 1960s campaigns selling the Beetle as a great winter car. That’s pretty cheeky for a car that had no functional heater!

    In my mind, the “Get Happy” thing is trying to play-down the fact that current VWs have incredibly sad and grey interiors. I dropped by a VW dealership yesterday. Every car in the showroom felt like it needed therapy, and possibly medication. The new Beetle convertible does have a (very creaky and flexible) body-colored piece of plastic on the dashboard, and the CC has a little bit of metal-effect plastic trim, but everything else is a as dreary as a cold rainy morning. You really need to pump-up the happy music in order to gloss-over the soul-crushing funk that is haunting VW’s interior designers.

    The Toyota campaign is similar in that they hardly even mention the car. It’s a well-know fact that Toyota’s customers don’t even like cars, so the less said about the product, the better.

    As Allan B mentioned, the Audi campaign says “this car will get you laid.” It’s not an original twist for a campaign, but it’s proven to be effective.

    As I said earlier, the MB campaign takes the same approach as Audi, in a less effective/clever way. There’s a fine line between clever and stupid, and MB has crossed it.