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pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
1/31/19 12:18 p.m.

Over on the MyE28 forum I frequent (being an E28 owner and all) the merits of the new Supra are being debated. Obviously a lot of opinions, like anything in this world, but one poster linked to a Road & Track article on the Supra that made me really really sad.

https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/a25949060/new-toyota-supra-should-have-been-suv-crossover/

Do you see the common thread that connects all four generations? It isn’t the straight six, and it isn’t the general coupe style—it’s how Toyota targeted the Supra brand to whatever type of vehicle successful young people wanted to drive. In 1978, that meant personal luxury. In 1982, it meant 924 clone. In 1989, it meant knockoff 635CSi—and in 1994, it meant joining the club of porky $45,000 quasi-supercars.

So aside from Teslas and Ubers, what are successful young people driving nowadays? You know the answer: sporty SUVs, particularly lifted “four-door-coupes” like the Porsche Macan and BMW X4. The era of sports-car-as-enviable-social-message is long gone. If they remade “Flashdance” in 2019, the steel mill owner would drive a Macan, not a 911SC. Sports cars have the distinct whiff of nerd lately; they are the Tilley Hats of automobiles.

It's that last line that really killed me.

"Sports cars have the distinct whiff of nerd lately; they are the Tilley Hats of automobiles."

I hate this statement with every fiber of my being. Sports cars have always been cool. They have never not been. Every "dream car" of mine has always more or less been a sports car of some kind. How could anyone ever say such a thing? It's insanity!

Then I think about what the youths of today want to drive, how SUVs and trucks outsell everything else currently and how cars in general are unimpressive to young people, and I have to admit that to those who are not one of us, it's probably true...

sad 

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/31/19 12:22 p.m.
pointofdeparture said:

Then I think about what the youths of today want to drive, how SUVs and trucks outsell everything else currently and how cars in general are unimpressive to young people, and I have to admit that to those who are not one of us, it's probably true...

sad 

This.

In a nutshell.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
1/31/19 12:23 p.m.

No idea what a Tilley hat was. Had to search it to see what it was. Those hats don't seem to have anything to do with sports cars.

But, I agree with the general sentiment that cool cars are not popular cars these days. They are no longer halo cars. The halo cars are not even cars for the most part, they are SUVs.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
1/31/19 12:33 p.m.
T.J. said:

No idea what a Tilley hat was. Had to search it to see what it was. Those hats don't seem to have anything to do with sports cars.

I think the inference is that a Tilley hat is a nerdy thing that only people who know about hats care anything about (just like sports cars in 2019).

dclafleur
dclafleur New Reader
1/31/19 12:37 p.m.

I think this is out of touch, per the coffee discussions I've been having with enthusiast friends interest in cars in general is low right now.  I take comfort in knowing that much like vinyl records at some point it'll be far enough out of touch that it'll become cool again. 

If you want to see where a lot of the wider interest in automobiles is currently it is in automation and electrification, that's what the cool kids are interested in.  Fortunately I've never been cool.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/31/19 12:38 p.m.

They are not wrong but it doesn't bother me. Tilley still makes hats, people will still make sports cars.  I own knock off versions of both. I could care less what's popular.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/31/19 12:41 p.m.

I agree that sports cars are not as cool to the average Joe as they used to be. On the other hand, I only know a few successful people my age, and among the men they all have at least one sports car of some kind (meaning anything from a sporty econobox to a supercar), except one who drives a pickup and has been thinking about getting a high-end sports car or low-end supercar. Maybe that's selection bias though.

Edit: After reading the article I also agree that the LC500 is more of a modern Supra in all but name.

OldGray320i
OldGray320i GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/31/19 12:49 p.m.
Cooter said:
pointofdeparture said:

Then I think about what the youths of today want to drive, how SUVs and trucks outsell everything else currently and how cars in general are unimpressive to young people, and I have to admit that to those who are not one of us, it's probably true...

sad 

This.

In a nutshell.

 I should look up the demographics of who's buying what, because I think it's the same problem as the marketing of the frisbee twins. 

Kid at the gate where I live says he grew up playing the sports car games, loves the Miata and the guy with the red German car.

Kid at the autocross in Phx with a really nice 350z.

I get compliments of "nice car" from as many young kids as not.  It's a old Miata, for God's sake.

Young guy where I used to work had a Challenger, threw neat wheels on it, and three years later bought a hotter factory challenger. 

Young kid at the gas station I chatted up with the really neat FRS.

"Halo" gotta have to be in the "in crowd" sports cars, maybe but we've always been a smaller demographic.

The interest is there, and/but "how will they know unless someone tells them". 

Kick the berkelying soccer moms out of the marketing department, appeal to toxic masculinity (and girl power to, I'm thinking of that Christina girl GRM profiled) and show the fun for god sakes.

 Sports cars will never be the most profitable line, but we all also buy SUVs etc.

Plenty of companies are still producing 2-door sporty cars, so they can't be that unprofitable .

Yeesh.

Rant...

 

 

codrus
codrus GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/31/19 12:49 p.m.

Why am I not surprised that's a Jack Baruth article?  He seems to enjoy writing articles that say outrageous things.

 

TopNoodles
TopNoodles New Reader
1/31/19 1:00 p.m.

Well, E36 M3. I drive a Miata and wear a Tilley hat.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
1/31/19 1:01 p.m.
codrus said:

Why am I not surprised that's a Jack Baruth article?  He seems to enjoy writing articles that say outrageous things.

 

That, generally speaking, contain at least a grain of truth to them.  And are enjoyable to read.  

Now I have to go read it.  

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/31/19 1:06 p.m.

"cars in general are unimpressive to young people"

I think this is generally, but not exclusively true. That said, one thing that IMO has really changed in the overall enthusiast market, is that many sedans and even some SUVs have the sort of performance that blows away all but the the top sports cars. So while sports cars may be fun and the fastest way around a track, not only can the accountant next to you blow your car away in a straight line, but he can do so in an undramatic way if he's driving a Tesla or something similar. Think about that: High performance is just another option, like a good stereo or leather. It isn't something that's the sole dominion of rich guys and motorheads anymore. So frankly.... we just aren't so special anymore.  

But neither am I, so that's OK. 

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
1/31/19 1:14 p.m.

I can’t remember ever caring what someone else thought about something I liked.

I guess I’d never have driven three Samurais way back in the 90’s when the factory advertising line was “Beep beep, Hi!” if I cared what other males thought about my choice of transportation.

(this is NOT directed at the OP, I don’t think he was making that point)

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/31/19 1:16 p.m.

In reply to OldGray320i :

As the father of one teen and the stepfather of a 21 and 23 year old, I can personally attest to how neither they, nor their friends have the same interest in driving that I had growing up.   And it's not even close.  My daughter is actually the one with the most interest, but neither of my stepchildren even acquired drivers licenses until forced to.  My stepson did when his band needed to drive to the east coast for a tour, and my step daughter still hasn't done so.

I've spoken to them, and their friends about this at length, and they simply aren't interested in driving.

And the parents I speak to tell the same story.  

Just because you don't like it doesn't make it untrue.  Heck, I can't stand it.   But burying your head in the sand does nothing to change it.  

And this isn't just conjecture.  The University of Michigan did a study which concluded that "For 16- through 44-year-olds, there was a continuous decrease in the percentage of persons with a driver’s license for the years examined. For example, the percentages for 20- to 24-year-olds in 1983, 2008, 2011, and 2014 were 91.8%, 82.0%, 79.7%, and 76.7%, respectively."

gearheadmb
gearheadmb SuperDork
1/31/19 1:17 p.m.

Maybe people have lost interest in todays "fast cars" because there are almost no "slow cars" anymore? There used to be a ton of cars and trucks that had a hard time getting up to highway speed by the end of the on ramp, a ton of cars that handled fat and lazy. A ton of cars that the brakes were horrible and steered numb and sloppy. Its not like that anymore. 99.5% will never drive anywhere besides on the street, and a typical base model appliance is capable of accelerating, handling, and braking better than they will ever ask it to actually do. So why lust after something better? 

Matt B
Matt B UltraDork
1/31/19 1:35 p.m.

Hey you guys remember the last time a whole bunch of young people were into cars?  Yeah, that led to the whole import tuner fast-n-furrious age of shiny-happy berkleyers.   I'm quite content that most people I meet via car-stuff these days are genuinely enthusiastic and not just there for a "scene".

A lot of the professional races I go to are pretty crowded, despite the fact hardly anyone I know  understands what endurance and sports car racing is.  I also have to wait a long time between autocross runs and be there all day because so many people show up.  Our last Lemons race had over 100 entries and 80ish cars actually make it to the track.  I keep hearing about all this doom-n-gloom over the future of enthusiast cars, but I just don't see it on the ground. 

Daylan C
Daylan C UltraDork
1/31/19 1:50 p.m.

23 year old that has a rag top Mustang and a Trans Am here. I like normal sedans and 2wd pickup trucks. (Yes I like trucks but my idea of a cool truck is more 4/6 drop and 17s than leveling kit and 20x12s). I daily a 4 door sedan with a stick and generally dislike crossovers. I also like wagons and hatchbacks. I'm not yet at the point in my life where I'm considering buying a new car. But I'm not sure anybody will be selling anything I want when I get there if current trends keep up.

 

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/31/19 1:53 p.m.
T.J. said:

No idea what a Tilley hat was. Had to search it to see what it was. Those hats don't seem to have anything to do with sports cars

TIL:. That a Tilley Hat is what all those old autox farts wore that I used to make fun of 15 years ago, when I was a newbie.  So it does have a sports car heritage.

Screw Road and Track.  I find myself competing against millennials to buy cool cars from the 80s and 90s.  

Millennial bashing is a fun pastime, but maybe they're too smart to drop $50k on new Supras?  Leave that for old farts Gen Xers and recapture-my-youth baby boomers?

G_Body_Man
G_Body_Man UltraDork
1/31/19 2:07 p.m.

You guys are in for a treat when Gen Z gets into the workforce. Many of them grew up in the backs of Highlanders and Pilots and don't want anything to do with crossovers. Many of them only spend their money on what they think is cool, and I know you guys love some of the cars that non-enthusiast Gen Z kids think are cool.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
1/31/19 2:12 p.m.

I would guess that there is some correlation with population density and whether a young person would like to be able to drive a car. Road infrastructure almost never fully keeps up with population growth, making denser areas worse and worse to drive in. Meanwhile, some kids live in places where asking 'would you like to drive a car' and 'would you like to ever leave your house' mean essentially the same thing. 

I think there is a whole range of issues in which our (i.e. millenial because apparently i am one. an elder statesman of millenials i guess) parents are leaving us a world in a state which makes it clear that we should not just do the things our parents did. Having said that, i think there is also a problem of privilege in that people who aren't interested in driving are still interested in going places by car. Boil that right down and you got a lot of what could be called 'freeloading' and 'bumming' going on. It will be less selfish and disrespectful of others when everything is a rideshare taxibot instead of a human you are bumming off of, but then you will have other issues. Like all the disparate costs of travelling by car that are rarely fully accounted  being conventiantly summed up into one offputting ride fare staring you in the face. "$24 one way to go down town? I'll just stay in and order a pizza." Psychologically, more of us (millenials) will devolve into obese worker drones who stray little from the route between 'home' and whatever wage slave jobs the majority of us will work. In other words, more like our parents than we would like to admit, but now with less autonomy in a world of self-driving cars. 

OldGray320i
OldGray320i GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/31/19 2:20 p.m.
Cooter said:

In reply to OldGray320i :

As the father of one teen and the stepfather of a 21 and 23 year old, I can personally attest to how neither they, nor their friends have the same interest in driving that I had growing up.   And it's not even close.  My daughter is actually the one with the most interest, but neither of my stepchildren even acquired drivers licenses until forced to.  My stepson did when his band needed to drive to the east coast for a tour, and my step daughter still hasn't done so.

I've spoken to them, and their friends about this at length, and they simply aren't interested in driving.

And the parents I speak to tell the same story.  

Just because you don't like it doesn't make it untrue.  Heck, I can't stand it.   But burying your head in the sand does nothing to change it.  

And this isn't just conjecture.  The University of Michigan did a study which concluded that "For 16- through 44-year-olds, there was a continuous decrease in the percentage of persons with a driver’s license for the years examined. For example, the percentages for 20- to 24-year-olds in 1983, 2008, 2011, and 2014 were 91.8%, 82.0%, 79.7%, and 76.7%, respectively."

 Mine are 25 and 24.  The girl scoffs at autotragics, the boy took to the hobby like a fish to water. 

All their friends drove.

Explain the examples I gave above.

Numbers don't lie, but they don't predict the death of the consistent but small enthusiast community.

It's at least as plausible to say  that people who never cared that much about cars anyway can dispense with the expense of having one. 

m_walker26
m_walker26 Reader
1/31/19 2:24 p.m.

SWMBO observed just the other day that the government now mandated that young families drive minivan, SUVs and the like due to having to put baby (excuse me, child safety seats) in the back seat and that children be in such seats until some weight was attained (65 pounds maybe).   The inconvenience knocks out most four door cars, two doors are a nonstarter.

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/31/19 2:36 p.m.

In reply to m_walker26 :

I'm not sure what government you are talking about, but Illinois doesn't mandate that a child ride in the front seat; my daughter rode in the front for years. (with the passenger airbag turned off)

 

STM317
STM317 SuperDork
1/31/19 2:36 p.m.

Cars have gotten too good. Original hot rodders had their love of cars develop from having to constantly work on their cars and understand everything about how their cars worked just to use them. Then they'd tinker and try to improve on them as a result.

These days, you can get sub 6 second 0-60 times on about anything, and it will start every morning, in any kind of conditions, and do it for 200k miles with just routine maintenance (assuming it's not an Alfa). They don't care about cars anymore because they don't understand everything about them, and they don't understand them because they don't have to in order to use them.

Add in the fact that instant contact nearly anywhere on the globe has made the world much smaller, and you don't have to drive to go see/talk with your friends. Plus, how many young people can afford a $50k toy car? I've got an above average income for my area, and although I could probably swing the payment, I wouldn't consider it to be "affordable". Certainly not the way that performance cars were affordable in the past.

Daylan C
Daylan C UltraDork
1/31/19 2:42 p.m.

I don't understand the idea of young people not wanting to drive in general. Do they not love freedom? Lets be honest. Driving dumb cars as a hobby is usually expensive and inconvenient. But a Yaris in your life opens up so many opportunities.

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