No. 1013
September 11, 2019
 

About The UjianNasional

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with UjianNasional.com, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  witchhuntbook.com). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

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Tuesday
Aug202019

SWINGING DICKISM WRIT LARGE.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. Now that the smoke from the burning piles of money torched at “Monterey Car Week” has subsided, a couple of stories have emerged. And no, I’m not going to go into the massive screwup of the failed sale of the alleged “first Porsche” – the Type 64 – by RM Sotheby's. That debacle will haunt that particular auction house and the entire auction “thing” for years to come. And besides, plenty has been written about it already, the best being Hannah Elliott’s take on the event in Bloomberg

First of all, there’s a distinct cooling going on in the collector car “hobby” as prices have decidedly taken a turn downward. (The fact that people still refer to the collector car circus as a “hobby” is a recurring joke; in fact, it’s a big frickin’ business with more egos involved than the jostling for seating at the “it” restaurant of the moment in Beverly Hills.) Rough estimates suggest that prices were down at least 25 percent, but I think that number is low, especially considering the number of cars that went unsold at the auctions last week. And it was bound to happen, too, even though the prognosticators in the “hobby” insisted that all was well, right up to the point that it wasn’t. 

Let’s face it, the “hobby” has turned into a nightmare. The notion of “important” collectible automobiles with notable “provenance” that were lusted after for the sheer thrill of being next to one of the most coveted machines ever built fell afoul of the scammers and speculators years ago. Greed became the “hobby’s” cottage industry, and values were regularly skewed to an unconscionable level as a matter of course. This trend redefined the term “stupid money” and took it to an entirely new level. My go-to barometer for all of this was the absurd run-up in prices for air-cooled Porsche 911s. Yes, prices have appeared to have finally softened – albeit only slightly - after a half-decade of out-of-control frenzy, but still, $100,000+ for an old 911 is de rigueur, and it still basically sucks.

The second big story to emerge from Monterey Car Week was the rise of the hypercar. What is a hypercar, exactly? Good question. These are fantasy machines that really have no rhyme or reason. There is no connection to any road-going reality with these machines because the idea of driving them on the street is beyond laughable. The manufacturers love to boast that these hypercars allow them to showcase their technological might and creative vision, but that is unmitigated bullshit. No, these bespoke projectiles are designed to extricate as much money as possible from fools who have too much money.

And the roster of manufacturers partaking in this ode to greed is an impressive one. There’s the all-electric Lotus Evija, which is touted as being “the most powerful series production road car in the world” with 2000PS and will be limited to 130 cars total.

(Lotus)

Then there’s the Aston Martin Valkyrie, which is already sold out, and the Valhalla, which boasts Red Bull Advanced Technologies from F1 and will be limited to 500 cars. Aston Martin is handpicking prospective buyers to hype up the desirability for its hypercar, because nothing lures big money buyers more than telling them that they can’t have one but instead have to “qualify” for one. Gets ‘em every time.

(Aston Martin)

Then there’s the Bugatti Centodieci, a tribute by the manufacturer, ironically enough, to itself. The 1600HP machine based on the Chiron is supposed to pay homage to the Bugatti EB110 from the 90s. Only ten will be built, starting at 8 million EUROS VAT, but don’t worry, they’re already (allegedly) sold out.

(Bugatti)

And there are more coming. The Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar, for instance, will feature Formula 1 technology for the road, which is, for all intents and purposes, basically meaningless at this point.

(Mercedes-Benz)

Where is all of this going? Nowhere good, as you might imagine. These bespoke projectiles are nothing more than Swinging Dickism writ large. They are frightfully expensive garage art pieces that will never be driven, because, after all, that was never the intent. Formula 1 technology for the street? Who’s kidding whom? What street? Are you going to actually drive your hypercar to the country club and hand it over to a valet? Are you going to spend hour after hour at track days to explore the limits of your hypercar to justify your purchase? The answer to these questions is a resounding no.

These hypercars are rolling monuments to greed on the manufacturers’ part, and irresistible to the buyers’ who should know better but are blinded by their unbridled egos. And these hypercars are all going to end up at auction over the next several years with two miles, or ten miles, or, well, you get the picture. And when you really think about it is calculatedly brilliant, because it keeps the operating scam of the “hobby” percolating along.

Contemplating all of this makes me realize how truly creative the True Believers at GM were - and are - with the new mid-engine Corvette Stingray. In terms of design, engineering and performance this outstanding machine was surgically priced from the start to deliver the most seductive combination of high performance and stunning value that this business has seen in a long, long time. Maybe ever. And it is simply untouchable in the market. 

The new Corvette is a proper tribute to one of the greatest icons of the automotive world. It is true to its authentic history, while offering enthusiasts a realistic opportunity to experience genuine supercar performance at a reasonable price – without the hype. What a concept.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

(Chevrolet)

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