2012 NAIAS Other Interesting Cars

Not to beat a dead horse, but here your final NAIAS post. I was browsing other automotive publications, it’s ok we all do it, and I noticed that many of them picked their NAIAS favorites. Some had one, some had several, but all consisted of either prototypes, concept cars, or the Aston Martin Rapide Ford Fusion which is powered by magical mystery fluid and unicorn tears. That got me thinking of which NAIAS car was my favorite, and that answer was rather simple. However, I couldn’t pick just one… This is the first Honda Accord built in the United States. It was on the loan from the Petersen Museum, which I think has it on a loan from Honda. Maybe, I’m not sure. Regardless, this Marysville, OH, built car made me realize how relevant it still is. Thirty years later this very vehicle serves a stencil for today’s engineers, many of whom are probably as old as this car, not as a retro design but as a value design. In the thirty years since this vehicle was built, cars have got bigger, heavier, and more complex. At the same time they also got faster and safer but not necessarily more efficient in a way which is transparent to the end user – at the pump. In the past year we have seen many new cars come out which utilize reverse-hot-rodding tricks to squeeze out that extra mile from a gallon. Let’s hope that this trend continues but also encompasses the reliability and fun-to-drive aspect of this “little” Accord. My secondary choices are listed in the order of interest. The first is this old Mercedes 300SL. Upon first look it looks just like another SL driven to a Concours event by a local rich dbag, who uses it just for that reason. Look closer however and you will notice that the doors are much shorter, ending just below the window line. I know next to nothing about these 300SL, but these shorty doors tell me that this must be a pre-1952 LeMans car, possibly a prototype or model first used on the auto short circuit. It’s never really been seen before, it’s wasn’t even ever displayed at the Mercedes’ own museum in Stuttgart. This is…, [looks at other websites for its proper name]… the Falcon F7, and I have never heard of it either. It’s the answer to the question that few have been asking, the American Farrari. With interesting angry looks, small-block power, a decent looking interior, and a weight of less the 2800lbs, it may just do the trick, if they can manufacture and sell them. The trick to a car company is not designing and building a car or even bringing it to a somewhat limited market, as there are dozens of companies who already do that. The trick is in setting up a dealer network, maintenance facilities, and having a marketing budget. And then, with a very pricey government blessing, you actually have to build the damn things. So yea, it looks cool, it may have the performance and the specs, and even the price, which rival a Ferrari, but in the end it is just another generic wannabe supercar. Last, and least favorite, of my favorite cars is the Bentley Mulsanne. It’s not so much that I liked the car but that I was so impressed with its interior. It’s beautiful, simple, and elegant in an old sort of way but without feeling old. Some modern interiors look nice, but the moment you touch something you realize that it’s just shitty plastic covered in equally shitty leather and the aluminum stuff is actually painted plastic. Not so with the Mulsanne. It’s the real deal, it makes no excuses, and that’s why I like it. Definitely not favorite but interesting, the Chinese CODA, as reviewed by Rob here. I don’t know if the cars on display were prototypes or what, but imagine the built quality of a ’89 Hyundai (doors making shitty nose when closed) with the interior of a ‘94 Corolla, with aftermarket NAV unit and a knock-off Jaguar shifter installed by a sixteen-year-old at BestBuy, and you pretty much get the Coda. In the day of the Leaf and plug-in hybrids galore, why bother with this?

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