sleeping giants

It’s been more than five years since American automakers received government bailouts or generous lines of credit, and we are finally seeing the fruits of the restructuring that took places as these companies were forces to refocus after decades of running aimless. Ford is on a roll and in the midst of a wild turnaround. They went from inconsistent and totally unique cars for each market to a strong consolidated global lineup.

I wrote a while back that the Mustang brand was better off dead. I stand corrected with the launch of the GT350R. With a high revving flat-plane V8, carbon fiber wheels and a stripped interior, the Mustang seems to suddenly have more in common with sports enthusiasts than anything besides a Porsche Cayman or Z/28 for the money. A Mustang that’s more of a sports car than an M4? It’s incredible what a few choice upgrades can do to the perceived value of something.

quintessential halo car

quintessential halo car

Possibly the biggest sign of the turnaround is debut of the Ford GT concept, which serves to garner hype for the production car that is set to arrive next year. The original Ford GT40 was possibly the biggest home run in motorsport history. Enzo Ferrari backed out last minute in the sale of his company to Ford. Henry Ford was furious and exacted revenge by building the Ford GT40 which beat Ferrari along with everyone else at the 24 hours of Le Mans from 1966 through 1968. While Corvette and Viper struggle with brand perception, the Ford GT name has possibly more cache than Ford knows what to do with. No one seems concerned about paying $200k for a Ford GT. Hopefully, the upcoming Ford GT lives up to expectations.

While Chryster and GM have each launched some interesting products recently, I’m less than convinced in their entire product line. Do I like the 707hp Charger Hellcat? Yes but it doesn’t make the Chrysler 200 anymore appealing. GM wants Cadillac to be viewed on par with the German brands but that’s a tall order. They’d probably have better luck starting fresh with a new brand. Their V performance lineup looks promising, but they have to be massively better than competition to steal customers. Brand perception is a bitch.

At the end of the day, all American brands have squandered so much cache over the decades. America is a high tech powerhouse in many regards but our automotive industry can feel at times like it peaked in the industrial revolution.

the bird

What’s wrong with Formula 1? Besides the fact that the playing field is painfully uneven, no one in F1 speaks their mind or displays any real emotion. Everyone tries to be as non-offensive as possible when the cameras are on them. Drivers seem about as genuine with their responses as someone on a first round job interview.

It’s so bad that Kimi Raikkonen, a mumbling Finnish driver of few words, has attained status as the most interesting driver to interview because one time admitted that he took a shit just before the race. Seriously, how depressing is that? So with that in mind, I just can’t get enough of this video of Red Bull F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo’s reaction to an audience member’s question on Top Gear.

F1 needs more of this. It needs to not only show people at their best, but also at their worst. We can tell when someone is holding back their feelings for the camera. F1 needs to focus on what draws viewers to sports in the first place. The opportunity to see people struggle, be imperfect and most importantly be unpredictable. F1 doesn’t have much unpredictability on or off the track at the moment.