What are the characteristics of a car company, or any company for that matter, which determine whether it is good or bad? Exciting or boring? Worthy of your hard earned dollar in exchange for what they have to offer? What cars, if any, warrant a second look when they pass you on the street? Would you give a second thought to a Toyota as quickly as you would a Lamborghini? For those of us who are excited about cars, what is it about one over the other that draws reactions from us?
There are obvious factors that determine a its “presence.” Factors such as size, shape, and design definitely contribute to a car’s beauty. But then there are those of us who know about, and therefore look for, more in a car than how it looks. Some of us can distinguish different variants of cars made by the same manufacturer, such as the differences between a BMW 328 and the M3.
There are also more subtle factors like a car’s technical specifications. Car enthusiasts know that cars cannot be judged by looks alone. We realize that despite the enormous difference in size, a Mazda Miata – despite appearing sportier – will not win a straight-line acceleration race with an Audi A8. Despite the Miata appearing, and probably being sportier, the enormous V8 engine in the German sedan propels the car from a standstill in a deceptively quick manner. The Miata, a tiny Japanese roadster, is more known for its handling ability and easiness to drive. These two cars serve different purposes, and I doubt that anyone has ever had to decide between which of the two to purchase.
So what is it for the average everyday enthusiast that turns our heads? It all boils down to the combination of exclusivity, design, and capability. Cars that can combine these three elements are great cars. There are obvious cars that retail in the hundreds of thou- sands of dollars like the Ferraris, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, and Rolls Royces. Despite their obvious advantage in the exclusivity section, other, more affordable cars can be had with similar design and mechanical capabilities. The Mustang GT has a design that both excites new drivers and arouses a nostalgic sense in those that were around to witness the original Ford Mustang – all while providing a 400+ horsepower car for less than $30k. The Chevrolet Camaro serves the same purpose with the same intention for the same price – alluding to nostalgia and high output engines for a reasonable price.
There are also more expensive cars – like the Nissan GT-R – that serve to embarrass cars that are three times their price. The $80k Nissan GT-R, despite being in- credibly expensive for a Nissan, has defeated every $150k-200k Porsche model that has been com- pared to it. The Audi R8 – despite being $120k has also proved to be a better value than a less capable $200k Ferrari F430. These cars provide the design and capability of a more expensive car while sacrificing some exclusivity.
No matter what it is about a car that attracts someone, whether it is the shape of the wheels, the note of the exhaust, or the fact that they have no idea what car is sitting in front of them because they have never seen anything like it, there are key elements for everyone that make a car appealing. The real goal is to find the car that most perfectly balances all the elements that we dream about with the ones that we really need to live our everyday lives. By–Guy Weiss