So, for anybody who has happened to look at any social media or the front page of their Google feed or anything else today, probably the most seen photo (aside from some stupid egg, for which as a society, we should clearly all be better than…) has been photos of a little red thing on wheels, with an inevitably attached caption along the lines of “It’s Here and It’s Real!”, accompanied by a handful of fanboy type journalistic phrases and then about 2,000 angry comments to follow below.
For all the folks in the general vicinity of my age that I’ve been dreaming of this moment for years: I’m sorry, but new Supra looks like a generic, made up freebie toy that you find in the bottom of a store brand cereal box that nobody wanted to pay any manufacturers royalties on. Oh yeah, it’s also got 30 less horsepower than a 2018 Ford Explorer.
Does anybody else feel sort of violated here?
Between this, the bloated and uninspiring evolution of the Z car, the near Geneva Convention shredding treatment that Mitsubishi has afforded the Eclipse and whatever the hell the RX-8 was, it somewhat confirms the argument that has seemingly quietly been going on behind the scenes for a long time now: it may be time to let these cars go. It also once again confirms the argument that the 1990’s for Japanese sport compacts and consumer grade supercars almost exactly mirrors the American muscle car era.
What we’re seeing now is essentially what American manufacturers did to names like the Mustang, Chevelle, etc in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, first via a performance aspect and then directly relating to branding. The fact of the matter is, in the early 1990’s, the Japanese car market was a bit of a perfect storm. Once again, as with muscle cars, it’s beginning it to become obvious how very difficult it is to recreate accidental greatness on purpose. On the other hand, though, this one should have been a no-brainer, but yet these companies lately have been completely blowing it, seemingly almost on purpose.
I mean really. Where are the complications here? Provide a fresh, good looking body, a stout, powerful engine and performance that makes Corvette owners nervous. Doesn’t seem too revolutionary, does it? Yet here we are, with a borderline outdated, underpowered engine known for unreliability, styling that already looks exhausted (is it a Z4, a Scion BRZ or a 1995 Honda Prelude? Answer: oh probably), and a price point $15,000 North of justifiable for what I assume will be considered by the manufacturer, the privilege of owning the aforementioned (with a bunch of additional dealer markup)?
Either way, this should not have been a tough nut for Toyota to crack….. Especially considering how long it took.
I think what this signifies more than anything else is the fact that there comes a time for every generation of Automotive enthusiast, where manufacturers start to assume that you are stupid. Then, regardless of time, place or origin they all begin to make the same mistakes. They assume that nostalgia, brand loyalty and years of lust combined with distracting life scenarios like houses, kids and careers will make us simply part ways with our money blindly, no questions asked and without regard. For some individuals, this is true. That logo staring back at them when they flip on the garage lights is all the satisfaction that they need. Frankly, these people are not the ones who create legend, nor are they who keep their hearts beating. We’ve all seen those people and we all know them well. These are the fine folks that buy Sons of Anarchy jackets at Target so they can pretend they’re in biker gangs. They are also the ones who buy thousands of dollars of sports merchandise, depending on whoever happens to win the championship that year. These are the people who have 12 different Megadeth T-shirts, know who Kylie Jenner is, but have never heard of Dave Mustaine (like you didn’t know I was going to do that at some point…). They’re also the people running around the water cooler in your office this morning going on and on about the importance of some record-breaking egg (sorry! I had to!). Sure, they provide a quick score, but the fact is the majority of us are scratching our heads and laughing at those people almost all of the time. At the end of the day, these people are just blind consumers. They don’t support legacies, nor do they continue them, and manufacturers really need to stop playing to them.
I guess the moral of the story here speaks to the crucial nature of the original, real deal item and why things like old cars are so important. Cars like the Supra, Evo, 300ZX, 3000-GT, STI, Eclipse, Civic, Integra, Chevelle, ‘Cuda, Road Runner, etc represent a place in time where all points intersected in exactly the right place and everything worked the way it was supposed to and that’s something, but you simply can’t artificially recreate. As important as it is to restore, maintain and protect these cars in order to remember, recall and inspire in body, it’s also equally as important to keep the spirit of the original car intact and in place as well… and obviously manufacturers struggle to do this authentically. Clearly, there’s always going to be that midpoint in time where it becomes about cashing in and not about continuing, but that further underscores the importance a real, functioning reminders of what once was and why it was so good to begin with. With continued enthusiasm pointed in the correct direction, things like Mustang II’s can become flat crank Shelby GT350’s and front drive Dodge Daytona’s can turn into Hellcats.
The point is, this game isn’t over. It’s just the crappy halftime show.
Everybody keep keeping the faith!
For more pics and info, read a less opinionated write up of the new Supra HERE
Darin Roberge is CEO of Motorwerks Marketing and is a Marketing and Media Consultant in the Specialty Automotive and Live Events industries. Darin has been named a Business Trendsetter by Arizona Foothills Magazine, is a two-time nominee to Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list and is one of Sports Car Market Magazine’s 40 Under 40. Learn more about Darin at www.MotorwerksMarketing.com