The world of automotive news isn’t quite the same as, say politics. In politics, you usually have a Story of the Week that continues on for most of the week. For example, a politician will say something stupid. Next, you’ll have the offended group drum up some (false) umbrage. Then the pundits weigh in, with each side saying whether the politician’s gaffe was intentional, or just a silly mistake, or a Freudian slip into the true psyche, etc. Then another politician says another stupid thing, and the whole cycle repeats.
The news in the automotive world was much more diverse this week, stretching from the monthly sales results from the manufacturers, a super-rare Mini found in a barn, and a very limited edition super-powerful Nissan Juke. What do they have in common? Nothing, except for their timing. So let’s start off on Monday, where…
Monday, April 30
…our own Jason Davis take issue with minivan customizer Doug Eaton of Vantage Mobility International in Phoenix, Ariz. Vantage modifies minivans and other vehicles for handicapped drivers, a worthy goal of course, and Davis has no problem with that. No, it boils down to attitude. See, it turns out that younger wounded veterans don’t want a minivan, Vantage’s stock in trade. So Eaton is trying to figure out how to appeal to them. But saying things like, “But we’ve also got to deal with this shift to young veterans. We’re trying to bring a little bling to the table,” comes off as condescending, at the least. Davis, an Iraq veteran himself, has a few words about supporting troops that maybe even go beyond minivans and mobility.
Tuesday, May 1
Did you buy a Chrysler product last month? You weren’t alone. The company has been on a tear this year, breaking all kinds of sales records thanks to a fully refreshed product line that people actually, y’know, like. April was the 11th consecutive month where Chrysler Group’s sales increased by at least 20 percent over the previous year. The other domestic brands did OK, slightly falling from last year, but not too terrible. And then there’s the Japanese, Korean and Europeans, who all had varying degrees of success, but mostly positive. Of course, comparing this year’s sales to last year’s is partly a reflection of how bad last year’s sales were, but for now, let’s just let Chrysler have its moment in the sun.
Wednesday, May 2
Volvo’s North American headquarters invited its employees to bring their kids to work earlier this week. That’s not very newsworthy. Volvo also had a few activities planned for the kids, which again, isn’t really newsworthy. After all, a bunch of kids in an office watching actual work would be a recipe for a boredom-to-destruction disaster of sitcom proportions. But exactly what Volvo decided to let the kids do that was newsworthy. Imagine paint. Now, imagine brand new white cars. Throw a few kids in the mix and…well, just check out the results.
Thursday, May 3
The Nissan Juke is a compact crossover with a 188-horsepower four-cylinder engine, low price, and unique styling. It sells pretty well in the compact crossover class, and has even attracted its own fanbase. Now, Nissan also makes the GT-R, a 545-hp supercar with world-beating performance. It, too, has a pretty strong fanbase. Turns out that, like some wacky Venn diagram, these two otherwise disparate worlds overlap in one odd way, and, well, the upshot is that Nissan shoved the GT-R’s super-powerful engine and ultra-sophisticated all-wheel drive system—along with the rest of the GT-R’s go-fast stuff—under the chassis of the Juke, kind of as a joke, really. Turns out, people like it, a lot, and Nissan has given the green light to put the contraption into very limited production. Crazy.
Friday, May 4
A “barn find” is shorthand among automobile collectors for a long-winded tale. It usually includes a classic, rare car; years of neglect mixed in with just enough care to keep the car from rotting completely away; a subsequent stumbling-upon of the mostly neglected car; and eventually an auction where someone makes a bunch of money on it. Normally the names associated are storied: Bugatti; Cord; Ferrari; Porsche. But Mini? Yes, Mini. Don’t forget, what we call a Mini these days is the product of a revision of the brand by BMW. The original Mini was introduced in the 50s, and truly was mini. They’ve become collectable, and among collectors, the earlier and more rare, the better. Thus, stumbling across Mini number 8 in restorable condition is like finding a forgotten $20 bill in your pocket. Except this Mini sold at auction for $65,100.