Outsider’s Perspective: The Gearhead consumer paradox

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I feel your pain in the Hooniverse, I too shed a tear when Nissan went ahead and confirmed that the Nissan IDx was dead. Not just dead dead but “dead as a disco-music-loving vampire who got staked through the heart in 1980” dead. Deader than “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”. Deader than any chance of a sequel to L.A Noire that addresses all the plot holes. That dead.
But if we’re honest, even if it had been greenlit, we wouldn’t have bought it.

For what I’ve read in your comments (Thank you all by the way) most of you seem to be of the mind that financing a car is actually a rather ridiculous prospect. You buy a good that will lose a giant chunk of its value the second a wheel passes the dealership’s court, will keep leaking money like FIFA for the first couple of years or so and will be worth a fraction of what it was when it comes time to sell it. At which point the smart buyer shows up and snaps it from the schmuck who was seduced by the snazzy salesmen and the free muffin station on the dealership.
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What does the used car buyer lose? Well, the smell of industrial adhesives and plastics decaying for the first few hundred miles, a warranty and he’ll have to bring his own muffins if he wants to have one during the buying process, but the massive savings because of the magic of depreciation will be more than worth it. He could even think for just a second that he can too afford the maintenance on that CL65 AMG with the ABC light on, that one just means that the voice control is on right? I won’t for a second try and say that it’s an unreasonable position. Especially coming from the fact that I’ve never bought a car new in my (admittedly very short) life. However, it does mean that we’re much less likely to get the cars we want.
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It’d be easy to just take the latest example of the gearhead depreciation paradox and use it as a basis, so I will. The Toyota GT-86 , in all of its variations. We roared with excitement when it was announced and we were excited as hell when it was announced that it wasn’t going to be a million mile an hour car with clever active everything and bum-massage seats. Just a return to the traditional 2-door, rear wheel drive coupes we all know and love. No drama, no nonsense, just pure driving pleasure you can enjoy at legal speeds. Reviewers loved it, the public loved it, everyone loved it. Then it reached the people that were supposed to be buying them.
Only 200 horsepower?
Did you know that you can get a much more powerful Mustang GT for not much more?
I wanted a convertible.
My local dealerships don’t have gluten-free muffins.
All of a sudden all of the angry commenters on the Internet that were clamoring for it and swearing to Toyoda almighty that they would buy one because it was so perfect started nitpicking it and asking for something that was similar, yet entirely different. As a result, they won’t get those variations because the sales volume of the original is disappointing. But some of them will go ahead and say this lovely little line “I’d totally get one used.” Joy, you’re part of the problem. And it’s not just the Toyobaru. Wagons anyone? How about Manuals? Or any small, cheap roadster that’s not made by Mazda.
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Now I know some of you are saying “I bought a Toyobaru brand new from the dealer because I wanted a car like this and someone finally had the guts to make it and I love every minute of it”. And I’d just like to say congratulations, let me commend you on the fact that you put your money where your keyboard is. May it serve you well for years to come. I’m pretty sure automakers would love it if there were more of you running around. Trouble is, there aren’t. And in a world where every new car has to comply with doorstopper upon doorstopper of regulations making sure it’s safe enough you can hit a pedestrian at 90 MPH without him being the worst for it. That it’s green enough that the planet actually cools down from you driving; and efficient enough that cyclists actually feel ashamed they don’t own one I’m afraid it just doesn’t make the tiniest bit of business sense to even attempt to cater to the internet gearhead demographic.
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And yet Hyundai is building the Santa Cruz, a tall, small, Front wheel drive, diesel ute I specifically said would never ever ever get made. Oh crap, I’m part of the problem, I can’t buy it new. Whatever, it won’t come in brown anyway.

0 Comments

  1. Excellent post Gerardo. Frankly, I’ve never bought into the “But DEPRECIATION” argument against buying a new car, mainly because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s only an issue if you’re not going to keep the car for longer than two years, to which I say, “Lease it.” Trust me, if I buy a car, I keep it until the wheels fall off or it meets its unfortunate demise in an accident.
    Hence why, when I get the money, I’ll probably buy a Renegade or a two-door Wrangler new, order it exactly how I want it, and keep it until it croaks. Because depreciation means nothing to me if I like the car and want to keep it as long as possible.

    1. Plus, if it’s like the Jeeps of yore, you’ll still be able to sell it for $10,000 anyway.

    2. My sentiments exactly! When Ford showed the Fairlane concept, and then released the Flex, the light bulb in my head was like “hey, haven’t you been screaming for a BIG brand new american wagon that rides like those of you’re and has even more space?!?” Then Ford went and introduced the Ecoboost variant and a year later I bought one brand new after saving for 2 years.
      IT WAS NOT CHEAP. But I didn’t care, I have no plans of getting rid of it. I bought it exactly the way I wanted with every option I wanted. It now is nearly at 100,000 miles and I’m as happy with it as when i bought it. And have no desire to trade it in or sell it.
      I did the same thing with my 2005 GTO. In fact i liked that car so much, that when i totaled it, i bought another one. Drove it for years, it got wrecked, I figured WTH, repaired it and still own it. (I REALLY like that car).
      I think the number one problem with the “keyboard enthusiast” – heck, real enthusiast – is generally most of us are broke, and because of that, we know how to make do with what we have or what is second, third, or fourth hand.So we ALWAYS are looking for the next used car deal.
      We rarely just suck it up, save, and buy what we want with no intention of getting rid of it. Plus being car guys, we are schizophrenic, always distracted by the next new shiny thing, or ‘great deal’ in someone’s yard.

  2. A classic example of people loving the concept yet nobody buying the production model was the Chevrolet SSR. When it was first shown, all the magazines clamored for it to be built. Chevrolet did so to a chorus of yawns and dust collecting on the stylish trucklet. Granted, the production SSR was too heavy and a little too compromised, but it was an expensive lesson for GM.

  3. Unfortunately, the stigma of a used car doesn’t rattle the confidence of a gearhead, since we’ll just fix or modify anyway. We’re all just waiting for the early adopters, elderly old ladies, miserly academics and senile barn owners to unleash their endless supply of pristine Toyobarus unto the world in 2025. Just like how we got our hands on every last 240SX and CRX, amirite?

  4. well, i kind of disagree.
    i mean, let me say i don’t disagree that most of us here will pretty much only buy used cars. but this is a site whose readers will gape at an old french station wagon before gaping at an R8 or whatever mass-produced supercar trash is polluting the streets of hollywood these days.
    i think the proportion of us “enthusiasts” who buy new cars is probably not that far off from the mainstream. the real problem is that there just aren’t enough of us out there. of the people who can afford the dollar cost of an FR-S, who can afford the practicality cost? young, single people with disposable income and justification for spending $20k+ on a car. not that many of us out there these days. lots of us are unemployed, in debt, living with parents, living in cities, or any combination of the above. now pare that down: how many of those people care about cars? how many of those people care about cars that handle? my generation doesn’t care much about cars period, not compared to previous generations. it’s just hard to sell a car like an FR-S in 2015, man.
    full disclosure: i’m young/unmarried/childness, i’m paid pretty well, i could probably afford a new car, and i drive 50 miles a day in nothing less than 16 years old at the moment. so i’m basically the culprit you’re describing. but once i get sick of spending every damn weekend fixing something on one of my beaters, The System might get me interested in something new and fun.

    1. While you are right in your main point I’d like to mention that I’d marvel at an R8 as much as at an r8 – it’s usually only the owner’s attitude and willingness to chat that tends to be different…

  5. Nissan is so far off my radar that I didn’t even know this existed till I saw the articles / heard the podcast comments / etc. of its demise. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I bought my Mazda2 new because it was (almost) everything I wanted, and I planned on keeping it forever. Now that the warranty is expired, I can start addressing its minor shortcomings and making it the car I always wanted it to be. The best part is, for four years I got to drive a car that I didn’t have to worry about AT ALL. Even though I have multiple cars, the number of usable vehicles goes down to one once the snow starts falling and they start spreading salt. As an enthusiast, there is a definite value to that.

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