Editor’s Take note: Peter’s column talks about marketplace pricing, finish with an update from James “Jimmy” Fu and S.L. “Sonny” King as the Fu-King Motors boys deal with supply issues like all people else. “On The Table” characteristics Mercedes-Benz legend Rudolph Uhlenaut’s outstanding 1955 300 SLR Coupe, which recently changed arms for the greatest value in automotive historical past. Peter talks about “America’s Cathedral of Velocity” – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – in Fumes. And glance for in depth protection in equally Fumes and The Line of the run-up to Sunday’s running of the Indianapolis 500. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. Given that all the things is very well and certainly out of types right now (you suggest flat-out outrageous, appropriate? -WG) or far better but, “Over Less than Sideways Down” as The Yardbirds the moment famously sang, how did we get there at this stage? Yes, there’s the chip “thing,” the lingering supply chain “thing,” the lack of every thing “thing.” And then there’s the burgeoning pricing “thing” as in, how did we get there at this level in time in the motor vehicle small business, where $60,000 is regarded as a mid-priced car or truck, and $100,000+ is now the accepted value of admission for the upper conclusion of the industry?
Yes, I get it, time marches on and all that, but wasn’t it significantly less than a decade back when vehicles priced at $100,000 (and up) have been reserved for the Aston Martins, Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotica of the vehicle planet?
Now, the regular selling price of a loaded luxury pickup truck from Chevy, Ford, GMC or Ram is approaching $75,000. If you get a loaded Tremendous Responsibility edition of just one of all those pickup vehicles, you are effortlessly pushing 6 figures, and a lot more. Or how about the $75,000 Ford Broncos and V8-run 392 Jeep Wranglers?
The story is even more so for luxurious SUVs in this sector. Let’s experience it, if a maker doesn’t have a high quality SUV that is 100 Grand or above, it just cannot be viewed as a severe participant. The list of players in that arena features Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Land Rover, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz, and that’s just for starters.
But then once more, that 100 Grand plateau is speedily becoming a stepping stone condition, as tricky as that is to understand, for the reason that the record of players with SUVs approaching $200,000 and earlier mentioned is expanding exponentially. Lamborghini, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are filling that area, with Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and quickly-to-be Ferrari (ugh) blowing past $200,000 and pushing $300,000+. As in, are you frickin’ kidding me?
Welcome to the new typical, seemingly. Indeed, I have noticed all of the figures – the advancement of individual wealth and disposable cash flow, alongside with the want of affluent people to say “WTF?” and commit significant funds on their own transportation selections to “cocoon” throughout and immediately after the pandemic (you know, that pandemic, which in no way looks to go absent). And I applaud people rediscovering the idea of hitting the street and embracing the notion of road excursions they under no circumstances took back again in the working day, since hitting the highway is constantly a superior issue.
But 100 Grand turning into the new threshold for luxurious car suppliers from here on out is nevertheless a minimal hard to swallow. Was not it just a pair of years back when rates in the $80,000 vary were eye-opening? Certainly, it was. But then yet again turning back the clock isn’t going to materialize either. It appears to be just a second ago when the plan of 100 Grand being the rate of entry for tremendous high quality luxury was radically steep. Now? It’s feeling like a quaint idea at this level, for the reason that the market has blown past that.
Is it sustainable? That’s a diverse discussion completely. We are evidently teetering on the edge of a recessionary period, introduced on by the ongoing offer chain chaos and lingering COVID nightmare. Not to point out the systemic pressures remaining fueled by the “Grand Transition” to BEVs. A big “We’ll See” as we like to say close to right here, but I do not see charges rolling back whenever before long, or ever once again for that make any difference.
I’ve been immersed in all of this since I am in deep talks with my friends Mr. James “Jimmy” Fu and Mr. S. L. “Sonny” King, as they try out to establish pricing for their new item line.
As longtime AE visitors may well remember from prior columns, Jimmy and Sonny have operated in the shadows of the gigantic Chinese industrial device for decades. But for audience new to AE, I will gladly get rid of some mild on these two flamboyant figures so they can have a much more comprehensive picture of who they are.
Mr. Fu commenced production model vehicles in the late 70s, and it has now been verified that he controls each individual toymaking problem in China by way of a labyrinthian network of mom-and-pop factories and quite a few other substantial conglomerates that he lords about. Mr. King grew to become associates with Mr. Fu just after initially supplying the elaborate wheels and meticulously in depth tires on Mr. Fu’s design automobiles. The two have been partners for a very long time in point, they are getting into their fifth 10 years alongside one another now.
I initially obtained to know Mr. Fu and Mr. King after they approached me at the Los Angeles Vehicle Exhibit yrs back. Seemingly, they experienced stumbled upon Autoextremist.com after they first became familiar with the World-wide-web, and they regaled me with the simple fact that they both discovered English by obtaining my ‘Rants’ columns translated for them.
When I to start with met them, it turned into an uproarious encounter as they blurted out some of my patented phrases that they had figured out phonetically, like ‘notgonnahappen.com,’ ‘halle-frickin’-luja’ and ‘the Reply to the Query that Definitely No One particular is Inquiring.’ (How they uncovered that very last one remains a mystery to me.)
Mr. Fu and Mr. King have remained in close get hold of with me ever considering the fact that. As I have gotten to know Jimmy and Sonny, their frenetic pace and boundless power in no way cease to amaze me. The Zoom phone calls I receive at 3:00 p.m. my time are commonly booze-loaded stream-of-consciousness rants by Jimmy with Sonny yelling issues about his shoulder, accompanied by trendy product types dancing to disco audio in the qualifications at their secretive Shanghai lair. And their appetites appear to be even more boundless. In reality, Jimmy is even now fond of aspiring female pop stars, although Sonny is a really generous sponsor of a feminine gymnastic academy.
As you may picture, with their insatiable appetites for, properly, all the things, their underground garage is in a frequent point out of flux. Let us just say they go by means of about a 50 percent-dozen cars and trucks for every yr, each and every. Rapidly American muscle vehicles are overflowing in their fleet, which is an enthusiast’s cornucopia of greatest hits, which include a mélange of Challengers (every single modified to produce 1100HP) an first “narrow-hipped” 427 road Cobra a L88 Corvette two new Corvette C8s (a person black, 1 white) and a pair of tailor made-constructed Willys Gasser replicas from the 60s run by race-ready Chevy 502 significant-blocks reserved for terrorizing the neighbors in the center of the night. I have seen that their fondness for Bourbon has progressed from Knob Creek by means of Basil Hayden’s to now Woodford Reserve, but that appears to be to modify about each and every three months or so.
A person major transform for Jimmy and Sonny is that they marketed a person of their twin Gulfstream G650s. Due to the fact they certainly loved their jets, this is a huge deal. Jimmy spelled out that “We experienced to lower back again, business is not so good ideal now. (They held Jimmy’s, which is Jet Black and sold Sonny’s, which was Chaparral White.)
The last time I talked with Jimmy and Sonny, I was ready to piece jointly some salient specifics of the Fu-King Motors foreseeable future products portfolio (even though it took three, lengthy, Woodford Reserve-fueled Zoom phone calls to do so, with a lot yelling – usually the yelling – and the incessant disco pop participating in LOUDLY in the background). Since then, I have been counseling Jimmy and Sunny about the pricing of their future products.
So, as most effective as I can notify, right here is the most recent timeline – all the things has been pushed back numerous years (“Chip Hell,” as Jimmy and Sonny said in unison) – and the projected pricing for what Fu-King Motors has coming:
2025 (pushed back from 2021): The very long-awaited debut of the Fu-King Gargantuan, the 6-wheeled, all-electric SUV is developed to embarrass “anything else in the market place,” according to Jimmy. Flaunting some outstanding numbers: 2000HP 10,000 lbs., electric action ladders (“not techniques, ladders,” Jimmy insists) and “a look that will humiliate all that other crap out there,” added Sonny. When I requested about the rate, Jimmy and Sonny answered in unison: “Enough to make grown adult men cry!” So, what, accurately, is “enough to make grown adult men cry?” Jimmy laughed heartily at my hand-wringing in excess of the new $100,000 threshold and stated – with not a nanosecond’s hesitation – that the Gargantuan would have a foundation price of $599,999. Gulp. (But, as Sonny pointed out, that’s a $100,000 cost slice from exactly where they ended up.)
2025 (pushed back again from 2021): Another extremely anticipated debut – The Fu-King Motors KickBoxer – is the boys’ reply to the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco with “unequaled” off-road functionality. Boasting a carbon-fiber unibody and a kaleidoscope of different variations, including a pickup and one cryptically referred to as the “RumRunner Edition” (“it can conceal forty gallons of Bourbon!” Sonny chimed in), the KickBoxer will be run by an all-aluminum, 2.-liter, fuel-injected, Twin-Turbo, flat eight-cylinder motor that delivers 700HP. When requested if this could potentially be construed as overkill, Sonny immediately replied: “We will introduce our rivals to the strategy of obtaining their asses kicked!” So, how a lot will it expense to kick your neighbors’ asses in their treasured Wranglers and Broncos? Sonny, who was the driving power driving this plan, priced it at $199,000 saying, “There is so considerably know-how in this beast that fanatics will beg to get on the ready record. You want to make a splash at cars and trucks and coffee? We received your splash appropriate listed here!” (Attempting to counsel the boys about pricing self-discipline has proved to be a futile exercise.)
2026 (I’ll consider this one particular when I see it): The all-electrical semi-truck that appears to be like eerily like the Bison highly developed very long-haul trucking strategy that GM Styling created for the 1964 World’s Reasonable is “a definite go” for late in ’26, in accordance to Jimmy. When I was proven photographs of the thought, I imagined they experienced resurrected the designers who did the primary Bison, it looked so shut to the authentic (see beneath). But this truck will be a hydrogen fuel mobile-run electric powered weighty truck with a vary of “700+ miles,” in accordance to Sonny. The identify? “Convoy.” (It appears to be that Jimmy and Sonny are massive enthusiasts of the authentic “Smokey and The Bandit” film and the total C.B. radio period in the U.S.) How substantially? $600,000, all-in.
The Bison hefty truck concept from GM Styling was developed for the 1964 World’s Honest in New York.
2030 (If it comes about at all): It’s very clear that the progress of the Fu-King Motors supercar has been fraught with issues from the beginning. That it has taken its toll on Jimmy and Sonny is clear, as whenever I mention it their usual exuberant dispositions turn decidedly glum. Very first envisioned as a large-performance, hydrogen gasoline mobile-driven electrical hypercar, the machine – code named “Bandini” – has been reimagined as a BEV aimed to eclipse Gordon Murray’s T.50. Claimed to have 1+2 seating and a curb excess weight of 1900 lbs., Jimmy and Sunny are nonetheless mum – and decidedly glum – on any additional info, which is strange for them, whilst I know they are continually bickering about the information. Which indicates you can bet that even the 2030 time-body is a pipedream and not even shut to occurring. And they have not stopped bickering long ample to even communicate about the pricing yet. Whilst from what I’ve observed so far, it will value $4 million, minimum amount.
When I requested about solutions over and above 2030, the boys mimicked what I generally say, chiming in once again in unison, “It’s a huge we’ll see!” And, when requested if they experienced any ideas to import their products and solutions to the U.S., the solution was a resounding, “Never!” Asked why, they answered all over again in unison, “Too significantly bullshit, far too a great deal aggravation. We’re finding far too outdated for this shit!”
At that issue all I could say was, “I concur.”
And I am reminded of all those immortal words of The Wicked Witch of the West:
“Oh, what a planet! What a entire world!”
What a earth, in truth.
And that’s the Higher-Octane Reality for this week.