My Car Quest

July 23, 2019

History As A Marketing Tool In The Car Business

by Wallace Wyss –

I notice in the announcement of the new DeTomaso that the company producing it, Apollo, references early DeTomaso race cars in their press release material. But at the DeTomaso P72’s introduction ay Goodwood, they didn’t have any early DeTomasoo race cars on display.

So, talking about such obscure race cars as the DeTomaso 1000, or race car prototypes like the P70, their appearances of the new car don’t have as much impact as they would if the real race cars were present.

We are talking pedigree here. I am associated with a thoroughbred horse ranch in the Inland Empire in California and the most important thing at the ranch is registering the horse so potential buyers can see, yes, indeed, such and such a horse is related to California Chrome, a Derby winner, etc…

DeTomaso P72 in Aix-en-Provance - painting by Wallace Wyss

DeTomaso P72 in Aix-en-Provance – painting by Wallace Wyss

There are lots of start-up car companies but many of them have a difficult time establishing themselves in consumer’s minds if their newly named model has no past, as it were. If you are resurrecting a dormant brand, you can ride onto the stage with the accrued glory of a couple good historical examples of that brand on display.

Ford had at least one of the original Ford GT40 body styles on display when they showed the ’05 Ford GT and even the latest generation Ford GT has some paint jobs that mimic successful Ford race cars in Ford’s past.

When Chevrolet rolls out the 2020 mid-engine Corvette to the press Nov. 18th, I expect them to have at least some mid-engine Corvette prototype from their past. After all they have been making Corvette mid-engine prototypes for over 50 years, so why not show one, as if to say something like “We have been working on this a long time” or “We are the generation that follows through.”

And if it turns out it is named “Zora” after the controversial long-time Corvette chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, I am also expecting the preview will have pictures of Zora and biographical material so today’s youthful reporters realize how signifiant a presence Zora had among automotive engineers.

Bugatti is one company that’s employed history right–they have introduced new cars with an adjacent display of a Bugatti pre-war classic. Their new cars’ model names are drawn from the ranks of prewar Bugatti racers.

The implication to the car buying prospect is that the original Bugatti company had standards that were often above those of rivals (which accounts for their racing dominance) so since the reborn company has shown so much respect for Bugatti history, you, as a consumer, can have confidence in the brand new products.

I also think this is where car makers and concours can work together. I remember when Pebble Beach had a display in recent years of Ford GT40s, starting from the 1964 model right through to the present that helped establish Ford as a long time (and successful) race car builder.

My advice to newcomers to the auto building scene or established automakers who want to enter a segment of it like sports/racing cars is to buy a dormant firm and resurrect their past with your new model parked alongside great examples from the venerated brands’ past.

I never heard a dollar amount fixed to the purchase by Apollo of the use of the name “DeTomaso ” but it also brings belated rewards to the family members (in this case the co-founder of DeTomaso Automobili, Isabelle, is still alive) for their decades long work of building the brand.

I always thought Jim Hall, a modest man in a sport with many a supercharged ego, blew his chance to work toward Chevrolet producing and marketing a Chaparral sub-brand. Hall’s cars were going out there to race against Europe’s best but the benefit of Chaparral’s successes didn’t result in car orders because there was not a Chaparral model of Corvette or even Camaro. The GM management at the time was dead set against racing so put the kibosh on any such thought of bankrolling Hall like Ford did Shelby….Ford, by contrast, is still reaping the rewards of their tie-in with Shelby over 50 years later….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss started out as a PR man for a major university. Today he is in the fine arts as a portrait painter of the world’s finest cars. His work will be featured t the Art & Books booth at Concoroso Italiano.

 
 
 

 

 

2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition - photo from Hiconsumption

2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition – photo from Hiconsumption

Summary
History As A Marketing Tool In The Car Business
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History As A Marketing Tool In The Car Business
Description
A smart marketing move by Ford - they had at least one of the original Ford GT40 body styles on display when they showed the '05 Ford GT and even the latest generation Ford GT has some paint jobs that mimic successful Ford race cars in Ford's past.
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