I hate change.
This should come as no surprise to longtime Readers of my fevered rantings, most especially to Mr. Free Market who, while we were on a drive trip in Britishland, punctured one of my rants against ugly automotive modernity with the comment: “Basically, Kim, you’d be quite happy if cars looked the same as they did in the 1950s and 1960s.”
I’ve forgotten my actual response to this barb, but “Fuck, yeah!” would not be an inaccurate paraphrase.
So when I heard that Volkswagen (you know, the immoral bastards who brought you doctored emissions so as to sell more diesel-engined cars) announced that they were going to kill off the New Beetle, I didn’t care. I didn’t care because the New Beetle was, easily, one of the most revolting car designs ever inflicted on the public road. Compared to the older model, it looked like some retarded child’s experiment with Play-Doh, viz.:
Now granted, the old Bug was pig-ugly too, but at least it wasn’t pretentious — it was, as its name suggests, a People’s Car: cheap and reliable (almost unbreakable) and even a little eclectic, because while the auto industry was modernizing all around it, the old Beetle barely changed. The less said about its foul spawn, the better. (Ditto the Mini, which I’ve discussed before and of which pretty much the same can be said.)
So I don’t care about VW whacking the Beetle. I am furthermore unsurprised that they were surprised that the New Beetle never ever achieved the sales of the old girl. Because they’re marketing idiots. They thought that they could fool us Beetle lovers with some modernized monstrosity with a few cosmetic nods to the original, and we’d fall all over ourselves to buy this ugly piece of shit.
And speaking of German marketing stupidity: I see that VW’s sibling Audi has decided that it will soon stop making the excellent Audi 8 with a W12 engine option. I wonder when these fucking morons in what passes for a marketing department at Audi will realize that there will always be a customer segment of drivers who love 12-cylinder engines. The article notes that Bentley is not going to give up their W12, and car buffs will just chuckle because the W12 found in both the A8 and the Bentley is the engine designed by… VW, for their ill-fated Phaeton (a.k.a. “Piëch’s Folly”). What will happen (and you heard it here first) is that the people who love 12-cylinder engines in their luxury cars will, rather than be content with the A8’s stepped-down V8, just buy ummmm… the Mercedes AMG S 65 (which, like the Bentley Flying Spur, costs about $100,000 more than the Audi A8 W12). Here’s the S 65:
…which quite frankly looks better than Audi’s blunt-nosed offering anyway. As nice as the AMG Mercedes looks, however, it’s still not as beautiful as one of its predecessors:
That’s a Mercedes 300 SC*, from 1954. Which takes me back to Mr. Free Market’s jibe.
Yes, you foul Brit toff: I would be perfectly happy if cars still looked like this.
*Before I get razzed: I know that the old Merc 300 used a 3-liter inline six-cylinder engine and not a V12. Didn’t need anything bigger, and anyway, the V12 engines of the time weren’t much good compared to today’s. But with the size of the 300’s engine compartment… is anyone at AMG listening? Nah, it’ll never happen. If Mercedes ever re-released the 300 SC it would probably look like today’s Maybach — i.e. even uglier than the new Beetle, and it would make women and small children scream as it passed by them in the street.
I don’t know why I bother.