Editor’s Observe: Peter’s column talks about trade pricing, full with an replace from James “Jimmy” Fu and S.L. “Sonny” King because the Fu-King Motors boys cope with provide points like all people else. “On The Desk” options Mercedes-Benz legend Rudolph Uhlenaut’s magnificent 1955 300 SLR Coupe, which lately modified fingers for the best value in automotive historical past. Peter talks about “America’s Cathedral of Pace” – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – in Fumes. And search for intensive protection in each Fumes and The Line of the run-up to Sunday’s working of the Indianapolis 500. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. On condition that the whole lot is nicely and really out of kinds proper now (you imply flat-out loopy, proper? -WG) or higher but, “Over Below Sideways Down” as The Yardbirds as soon as famously sang, how did we arrive at this level? Sure, there’s the chip “factor,” the lingering provide chain “factor,” the scarcity of the whole lot “factor.” After which there’s the burgeoning pricing “factor” as in, how did we arrive at this cut-off date within the automobile enterprise, the place $60,000 is taken into account a mid-priced car, and $100,000+ is now the accepted value of admission for the higher finish of the market?
Sure, I get it, time marches on and all that, however wasn’t it lower than a decade in the past when autos priced at $100,000 (and up) had been reserved for the Aston Martins, Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and different exotica of the auto world?
Now, the common value of a loaded luxurious pickup truck from Chevy, Ford, GMC or Ram is approaching $75,000. If you happen to get a loaded Tremendous Responsibility model of a kind of pickup vehicles, you’re simply pushing six figures, and extra. Or how in regards to the $75,000 Ford Broncos and V8-powered 392 Jeep Wranglers?
The story is much more so for luxurious SUVs on this market. Let’s face it, if a producer doesn’t have a premium SUV that’s 100 Grand or above, it could possibly’t be thought-about a critical participant. The listing of gamers in that area contains Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Land Rover, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz, and that’s only for starters.
However then once more, that 100 Grand plateau is shortly turning into a stepping stone scenario, as exhausting as that’s to grasp, as a result of the listing of gamers with SUVs approaching $200,000 and above is rising exponentially. Lamborghini, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are filling that house, with Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and soon-to-be Ferrari (ugh) blowing previous $200,000 and pushing $300,000+. As in, are you frickin’ kidding me?
Welcome to the brand new regular, apparently. Sure, I’ve seen all the statistics – the expansion of non-public wealth and disposable revenue, together with the need of prosperous customers to say “WTF?” and spend huge cash on their private transportation selections to “cocoon” throughout and after the pandemic (you recognize, that pandemic, which by no means appears to go away). And I applaud folks rediscovering the idea of hitting the highway and embracing the concept of highway journeys they by no means took again within the day, as a result of hitting the highway is at all times factor.
However 100 Grand turning into the brand new threshold for luxurious auto producers from right here on out remains to be a little bit exhausting to swallow. Wasn’t it simply a few years in the past when costs within the $80,000 vary had been eye-opening? Sure, it was. However then once more turning again the clock isn’t going to occur both. It appears only a second in the past when the concept of 100 Grand being the value of entry for tremendous premium luxurious was radically steep. Now? It’s feeling like a quaint notion at this level, as a result of the market has blown previous that.
Is it sustainable? That’s a unique dialogue totally. We’re clearly teetering on the sting of a recessionary interval, introduced on by the continued provide chain chaos and lingering COVID nightmare. To not point out the systemic pressures being fueled by the “Grand Transition” to BEVs. An enormous “We’ll See” as we wish to say round right here, however I don’t see costs rolling again anytime quickly, or ever once more for that matter.
I’ve been immersed in all of this as a result of I’m in deep talks with my pals Mr. James “Jimmy” Fu and Mr. S. L. “Sonny” King, as they attempt to decide pricing for his or her new product line.
As longtime AE readers could recall from earlier columns, Jimmy and Sonny have operated within the shadows of the large Chinese language industrial machine for years. However for readers new to AE, I’ll gladly shed some gentle on these two flamboyant characters to allow them to have a extra full image of who they’re.
Mr. Fu began manufacturing mannequin automobiles within the late 70s, and it has now been confirmed that he controls each toymaking concern in China by means of a labyrinthian community of mom-and-pop factories and several other different giant conglomerates that he lords over. Mr. King turned companions with Mr. Fu after initially supplying the flowery wheels and thoroughly detailed tires on Mr. Fu’s mannequin automobiles. The 2 have been companions for a very long time; in truth, they’re coming into their fifth decade collectively now.
I first acquired to know Mr. Fu and Mr. King after they approached me on the Los Angeles Auto Present years in the past. Apparently, that they had stumbled upon Autoextremist.com after they first turned aware of the Web, they usually regaled me with the truth that they each discovered English by having my ‘Rants’ columns translated for them.
After I first met them, it was an uproarious encounter as they blurted out a few of my patented phrases that that they had discovered phonetically, like ‘notgonnahappen.com,’ ‘halle-frickin’-luja’ and ‘the Reply to the Query that Completely No One is Asking.’ (How they discovered that final one stays a thriller to me.)
Mr. Fu and Mr. King have remained in shut contact with me ever since. As I’ve gotten to know Jimmy and Sonny, their frenetic tempo and boundless vitality by no means stop to amaze me. The Zoom calls I obtain at 3:00 p.m. my time are often booze-filled stream-of-consciousness rants by Jimmy with Sonny yelling issues over his shoulder, accompanied by fashionable mannequin varieties dancing to disco music within the background at their secretive Shanghai lair. And their appetites look like much more boundless. In actual fact, Jimmy is nonetheless keen on aspiring feminine pop stars, whereas Sonny is a very beneficiant sponsor of a feminine gymnastic academy.
As you may think, with their insatiable appetites for, nicely, the whole lot, their underground storage is in a relentless state of flux. Let’s simply say they undergo a few half-dozen automobiles per 12 months, every. Quick American muscle automobiles are overflowing of their fleet, which is an fanatic’s cornucopia of biggest hits, together with a mélange of Challengers (every modified to ship 1100HP); an authentic “narrow-hipped” 427 road Cobra; a L88 Corvette; two new Corvette C8s (one black, one white); and a few custom-built Willys Gasser replicas from the 60s powered by race-prepared Chevy 502 big-blocks reserved for terrorizing the neighbors in the course of the evening. I’ve observed that their fondness for Bourbon has progressed from Knob Creek by means of Basil Hayden’s to now Woodford Reserve, however that appears to alter about each three months or so.
One huge change for Jimmy and Sonny is that they offered considered one of their twin Gulfstream G650s. Since they completely beloved their jets, it is a large deal. Jimmy defined that “We needed to reduce, enterprise shouldn’t be so good proper now. (They stored Jimmy’s, which is Jet Black and offered Sonny’s, which was Chaparral White.)
The final time I talked with Jimmy and Sonny, I used to be capable of piece collectively some salient particulars of the Fu-King Motors future product portfolio (though it took three, prolonged, Woodford Reserve-fueled Zoom calls to take action, with a lot yelling – at all times the yelling – and the incessant disco pop enjoying LOUDLY within the background). Since then, I’ve been counseling Jimmy and Sunny in regards to the pricing of their upcoming merchandise.
So, as finest as I can inform, right here is the most recent timeline – the whole lot has been pushed again a number of years (“Chip Hell,” as Jimmy and Sonny mentioned in unison) – and the projected pricing for what Fu-King Motors has coming:
2025 (pushed again from 2021): The long-awaited debut of the Fu-King Gargantuan, the six-wheeled, all-electric SUV is designed to embarrass “the rest available in the market,” in keeping with Jimmy. Flaunting some unbelievable numbers: 2000HP; 10,000 lbs., electrical step ladders (“not steps, ladders,” Jimmy insists) and “a glance that may humiliate all that different crap on the market,” added Sonny. After I requested in regards to the value, Jimmy and Sonny answered in unison: “Sufficient to make grown males cry!” So, what, precisely, is “sufficient to make grown males cry?” Jimmy laughed heartily at my hand-wringing over the brand new $100,000 threshold and mentioned – with not a nanosecond’s hesitation – that the Gargantuan would have a base value of $599,999. Gulp. (However, as Sonny identified, that’s a $100,000 value lower from the place they had been.)
2025 (pushed again from 2021): One other extremely anticipated debut – The Fu-King Motors KickBoxer – is the boys’ reply to the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco with “unequaled” off-road efficiency. Boasting a carbon-fiber unibody and a kaleidoscope of various variations, together with a pickup and one cryptically known as the “RumRunner Version” (“it could possibly conceal forty gallons of Bourbon!” Sonny chimed in), the KickBoxer will probably be powered by an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter, fuel-injected, Twin-Turbo, flat eight-cylinder motor that delivers 700HP. When requested if this might probably be construed as overkill, Sonny shortly replied: “We are going to introduce our opponents to the idea of getting their asses kicked!” So, how a lot will it price to kick your neighbors’ asses of their valuable Wranglers and Broncos? Sonny, who was the driving pressure behind this program, priced it at $199,000 saying, “There may be a lot expertise on this beast that fanatics will beg to get on the ready listing. You wish to make a splash at automobiles and occasional? We acquired your splash proper right here!” (Making an attempt to counsel the boys about pricing self-discipline has proved to be a futile train.)
2026 (I’ll consider this one after I see it): The all-electric semi-truck that appears eerily just like the Bison superior long-haul trucking idea that GM Styling created for the 1964 World’s Truthful is “a particular go” for late in ’26, in keeping with Jimmy. After I was proven images of the idea, I believed that they had resurrected the designers who did the unique Bison, it seemed so near the unique (see under). However this truck will probably be a hydrogen gasoline cell-powered electrical heavy truck with a variety of “700+ miles,” in keeping with Sonny. The identify? “Convoy.” (It appears that evidently Jimmy and Sonny are large followers of the unique “Smokey and The Bandit” film and the entire C.B. radio period within the U.S.) How a lot? $600,000, all-in.
The Bison heavy truck idea from GM Styling was designed for the 1964 World’s Truthful in New York.
2030 (If it occurs in any respect): It’s clear that the event of the Fu-King Motors supercar has been fraught with issues from the start. That it has taken its toll on Jimmy and Sonny is apparent, as at any time when I point out it their ordinary exuberant tendencies flip decidedly glum. First envisioned as a high-performance, hydrogen gasoline cell-powered electrical hypercar, the machine – code named “Bandini” – has been reimagined as a BEV aimed to eclipse Gordon Murray’s T.50. Mentioned to have 1+2 seating and a curb weight of 1900 lbs., Jimmy and Sunny are nonetheless mum – and decidedly glum – on any additional data, which is uncommon for them, though I do know they’re continually bickering in regards to the particulars. Which implies you possibly can guess that even the 2030 time frame is a pipedream and never even near occurring. They usually haven’t stopped bickering lengthy sufficient to even speak in regards to the pricing but. Though from what I’ve seen to this point, it should price $4 million, minimal.
After I requested about merchandise past 2030, the boys mimicked what I usually say, chiming in once more in unison, “It’s an enormous we’ll see!” And, when requested if that they had any plans to import their merchandise to the U.S., the reply was a convincing, “By no means!” Requested why, they answered once more in unison, “An excessive amount of bullshit, an excessive amount of aggravation. We’re getting too outdated for this shit!”
At that time all I may say was, “I concur.”
And I’m reminded of these immortal phrases of The Depraved Witch of the West:
“Oh, what a world! What a world!”
What a world, certainly.
And that’s the Excessive-Octane Reality for this week.