Victoria that is… How times change.
by Gunnar Heinrich
WHEN L322 – the current generation Range Rover – bowed to an enthused public in 2002, Range Rover had succeeded in revitalizing an aging nameplate with a forward looking design replete with new technology whilst reincorporating the original Range Rover Classic’s DNA into the car’s style. In short: L322was a home run for Range Rover. Land Rover – with aging Defender, Discovery, and under appreciated LR4 and unfortunate Freelander models – was sidelined and has withered accordingly for the bulk of the past decade.
The DC concepts are set to change that.
by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img via eBay ::: Land Rover Defender 90
CLOCKING more than a decade since the Land Rover Defender 90 ceased its official stride across the Pond, the rugged and bolt-on-simple Landie is still very much loved as a blizzard worthy all-terrainer. The Defender’s the mature Wrangler, some might say. This affection would help explain some of the steep Defender prices on eBay.
IMG by Robert Madeira
By Gunnar Heinrich
IT’S one of those funny constant that we can come to expect.
Such is this tidal nature that when there are boom periods – the economy is up; life’s good and people are well catered to by material amenities.
Like de luxe automobiles.
The tide recedes, as it must, and it goes without saying that the converse proves to be quite true.
Wall Street has been having weeks so rough that it’s insular turmoils have spilled over like acrid battery acid onto Main Streets this world round.
And while business folk and the idle rich in Shanghai or Dubai are less apt to feel the pain as those in New York or London, it’ll be interesting to note just what kind of hit luxury and exotic car makers and their dealer networks take in their global earnings in the wake of this financial meltdown.
Consider the following snippet from an explanatory article CNBC’s Jim Cramer wrote for New York Magazine as food for heartburn.
“For two-plus decades, New Yorkers have been living in a Wall Street–dominated world. Ushered in by Michael Milken and Henry Kravis, popularized by Oliver Stone and Tom Wolfe, and carried to its decadent extreme by hedge-funders with 32,000-square-foot Greenwich mansions and Gulfstreams at every airstrip, it was an era that dramatically changed New York.
I don’t care what the stock market did late last week or what it does in the next few days. That age, the Master of the Universe Era, is over. Too many people were too badly burned by taking too much risk to repeat that trick again. That has practical implications for everything from private schools, Range Rover dealerships, and Sotheby’s auctions to SAT tutors, newsstand operators, and shoeshine guys.”
Trouble is, the Range Rover (and BMW and Cadillac and Lexus and…) dealers were already feeling the pain before the $#!& hit the fan.
[The New York Article In Full: The Great Shakeout]
No badges on that Rover.
By Gunnar Heinrich
NIKOLAI “Niko” Bellic is the new Scarface. And true to inflationary form, his gig has already netted him (and his creators) far more dough than Tony Montana ever could imagine.
Starting this week, we can expect that dorm rooms and frat houses on college campuses around America will pin up large posters of this rags-to-riches video game antihero who’ll appear alongside Al Pacino’s omnipresent Cubano stoking mug.
Not a week old, Niko’s already made it to cult icon status.
Niko is the fictional protagonist in a third-person shooter game called Grand Theft Auto IV.
The game, developed by Rockstar Games and “published” by Take-Two Entertainment is part of an eight edition strong brand of console games that’s pushing the entertainment envelope off the proverbial table and blowing the gamer away with an uzi spray of physics simulations and gritty plot lines.
“Players can expect visible detail down to the weeds growing in the cracks in the sidewalk, cars and buildings of visibly different ages and a much greater level of verticality [huh?] in the buildings and bridges that they are able to explore as Niko moves through the city streets,” Amazon.com’s official reviewer enthused.
TAKEN FOR A RIDE
The auto industry, doubtless unprepared and beholden to political correctness, is already along for the ride in this carjacked vehicle of next wave interactive entertainment.
And there’s plenty of money to be made; The Financial Times hyperventelated that, “The Grand Theft Auto IV video game has stolen all entertainment records for an opening week, with global retail sales of about 6 [million] copies, or $500 [million].”
And yet none of the automobiles that appear in Grand Theft Auto IV are marque identifiable.
But like the game’s setting in fictional “Liberty City,” whose appearance is as eerily close to New York as the Jaguar XF’s profile is to the Lexus GS (ahem), there’s really no mistaking a Range Rover Sport HSE or a Ford Crown Vic for anything other than what they seem to be – but technically and legally aren’t.
Surely, you say, the auto industry will find a way around its collective P.C. inhibitions to cash in on this cow of new wave media gold.
Perhaps, though they’ll have to first contend with the likes of MADD, a militant Floridian lawyer, the skeptical Televised press, and governmental agencies like Gotham’s own City Hall who have all been busy vilifying (and rightfully so) the glamorized violence that the game’s content aims at the world’s impressionable 16-32 year olds.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
That said, the dollars generated by this surging enterprise is something a cash strapped Detroit nor a keen Stuttgart or Tokyo can afford to ignore.
There’s really only one question the automakers’ marketing departments are likely asking themselves: what’s the cost for cross-marketing with a malevolent new wave cult icon?