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RE: Mistaken identity
Okay, I'm going to step in it, and try to defend both Ford and Jaguar.
1. Given Ford's history as probably the ONLY company with significant
transnational R&D (Ford's European management and design and engineering
people played a significant role in pulling the company's chestnuts out of
the fire in the '80s), corporate management (it's most recent past CEO was
an RAF pilot), etc., it's probably not a bad choice for a company to swallow
another. I'd be very surprised if Jaguar didn't have a fair amount of
autonomy, beyond the obvious strictures of having to share platforms with
certain Ford products (but so do VW and Audi).
2. I assume the case of mistaken identity was a Jaguar XK8 convertible.
I've heard people here in LA try to insult owners of these cars with
comments like "nice Miata", "hey, that's a pretty spud camaro," etc. From
the front, you'd have to be blind or born in Amish country to mistake this
car for anything else. From the rear, on the other hand, they could've made
it more distinct. In this respect, I think the coupe is a lot better
looking. But then, Jaguar always did a fabulous job in designing their
coupes. I once owned two XK120 coupes that I think were among the most
beautiful cars they ever built.
While we're on the subject of dissing Jaguar, the same can be said for the
new 'S' type. The front looks great, and harkens back to the old Mark II
series. From the back, it does look Fordish.
3. In my not so humble opinion, most cars are looking more and more alike
for two reasons. a) certain technological and cost imperatives; b) the
market. Regarding the second point, people now want cars that will do
everything, and have plush, silent interiors, cell phones, mega-dollar audio
systems, and every other imaginable technology, not to mention safety
systems that will spare them the grim reaper when they hit a brick wall at
100mph, and reliability to top the JD Powers charts. A compromise is a
compromise, and if people want all these things (which the Japanese have
been expert at providing), something's got to give, and it's either pricing
that Bill Gates and 5 other people can afford, or originality in styling or
4. Okay, now to Audi content: A big round of applause to a major subunit of
a gigantic company for running against the tide, and designing cars that
cannot be mistaken for something spawned outside of Ingolstadt or
Necharsulm. I'd wager, however, that a big reason for Audi's originality in
both engineering and design has to do with the fact that North America is
not Audi's principal market. Europeans will tolerate more quirkiness in
their cars than will Americans.
Now watch me get flamed on this last comment.