Today, a Monday, came with some sad news. A project I was hoping would come to fruition is now pretty much surely cancelled, slapped from my eagerly awaiting grasp. Surely they heard me, awaiting the announcement while standing at the finance desk, eager to release my monthly disposable income into an in-house money vacuum, all for that little taste of factory prepared and warrantied good life. But no, the IDx is dead, and I am less whole for it.
The reasons, oh the reasons! If there’s one thing I cannot stand its the reasons, real or hypothetical. Officially, it seems the idea of selling a car that you cannot rest the laurels of an empire on is not worth building. Without having record breaking pre order numbers the idea of something that doesn’t back the dump trucks up to the bank is unfeasible, madness. Ironically this is revealed at a press event for the Maxima, a car that not only has gotten fatter and slower over time, but also has never really blown sales out of the water.
Then, you hit the comments for the article, and the reasons they have. People asking and people buying are different things. Excuses will be made when it comes time to sign on the dotted line. I would rather buy it used/ with 40 more hp/ 2 inch bigger tires/ 300 lbs lighter. wouldn’t you just rather have a Miata? or a FRS? A v6 Accord would kill it, I can’t be seen in something that slow. The Mustang is so much cheaper, and you can pick it up at a fleet auction. And on, and on, and on, and on.
When I first started reading Jalopnik, it was about 4 years ago. Mazda had recently announced the end of the Rx-8, and with it the last low volume, somewhat affordable, sports car. The online community muttered of niche audiences left behind, the Miata being invisible thanks to its long standing feminine charms, and the Z’s being heavy and slow, “more GT than sports car’. The man who enjoyed driving better enjoy spending a shitload of money too, because exotics and luxury were the only place to get any real thrills.
What we need, the online voice would say, is a Miata coupe. Yea, thats the ticket! Something for all year. With a little more space, maybe a bit more power; I mean turbocharged is nice, but to keeping it cheap and reliable is nicer, maybe just leave some room in the engine bay. And since we’re dreaming, why not make it a little more masculine. Yea, with big haunches and a snarly face. That is what we could use. I would buy that.
And the skies opened and the grandson of his company’s founder came to the rescue, with swift negotiations and profits for all, and bestowed upon the community the greatest of all presents, and fairly precisely what it asked for. The Toyobaru Twins.
And the community looked at it with its collateral head cocked to the side and said “Huh. Not exactly what I pictured.” Sides were taken, conclusions jumped to, engines were modified, tires were shredded, fanboys were created, and all in all the results to the general community have been positive. Sales have fallen as the car enters its 4th year of sales, but it’s the only sports car you actually see on the road, really the only new car in Formula D you could actually buy new and have it perform in close to that manner, and the only car that has increasing support in the aftermarket community, mainly because they’re not just for the super rich. It also seems be a great ambassador for the brand, FRS attaches to Scion the way Integra did to Acura, and there is no doubt Scion needs something, and this could just be it.
And across the island sits Nissan. Nissan, the real ambassador for the cheap sports car. Who do you think produced all the 240sx’s we gleefully took body saws to in order to wedge LS engines into? They deserve the adoration of the masses. They were not deemed heros thanks to their participation with the community. You could even get Turbo engines that would bolt right in, and no praise has been sung in their ears. So now, they have the chance to expand on the goodwill, compete for the affection of people that love to go sideways and contribute to a scene that is starving for a good platform. And to this they say “Meh. Not enough money in it.”
So this, I fear, is the end of both stories. I really don’t think Toyota will make a successor to the GT86, quickly falling sales numbers make reinvestment hard to justify. Despite the initial excitement from Nissan for a competitor, those plans died at the same falling numbers. Ironically if they had released something, most likely sales for both would pick up as fans would side with one or the other and go prove their allegiance with purchases. There is no Ford without Chevy or Dodge (or Holden), no Coke without Pepsi, and no sales without competition. When it comes to branding, people love to take sides, these petty arguments form sales numbers, particularly when both sides have decent products. Apple exists because people want a way to prove they hate Microsoft. People use PC’s to show the Mac crowd what versatility looks like. And the FR-S is all out in a empty parking lot, proving the middle of the market sucks when you’re alone.