I dragged my girlfriend to the auto show, you know, the place that everybody goes to sit in cars that they can likely never afford. But it’s all in great fun to be able to see under the hood, the trunk space, etc. of vehicles.
One car that really caught my eye was the Nissan 370Z Nismo. Normally I don’t like white cars, but with red accents this thing was gorgeous in person. I waited my turn to sit in it. Two seater, which isn’t that big of a deal because my cars back seats never get used anyways (I think three times since December 2015).
I thought this car was absolutely stunning in person – it looks like it was just designed, despite being out since 2009.
But I realized something as I was queuing in line to sit in it – I was the only one above the age of 18 (hell I’m over 30) who was checking it out. And when I got inside, I saw that it had a lot of red suede/alcantara in the seats that seemed to me, to mimic a video game setup. And that’s when I saw the pricetag – (Canadian funds but) just north of fifty thousand dollars.
Don’t get me wrong, the car was beautiful, sound amazing, and they’re rare. I have seen maybe one 370Z Nismo out in the wild that I’ve noticed, compared to every third or fourth car being a Mustang.
But I wonder if Nissan is able to sell these things since they tend to attract a demographic who can’t afford them. And this is no toy either, it’s a seriously capable, seriously fast car.
I moved on to the Civic Type R. Oh cool, it’s not locked, you can actually sit in it! A lineup of teenagers with backpacks taking selfies in it. I squeezed myself into one of the front racing seats, felt way too old to be in it, and got back out. My girlfriend frowned at the ridiculous body kit.
This happened again with the WRX and WRX STI. Lots of younger “gamer” type of guys. None of whom looked like they could afford the price tag. Same video-game appearance to the interior and the guys I saw sitting in it were playing with the shifter like they had no idea how to use it and were mostly interested in toggling the switches and turning the knobs and getting selfies.
I sauntered over to the 2018 Mustang GT. Save for a group of guys taking photos gangster-leaning in the car and driving, it attracted a more mature-looking crowd. Mustangs have a stereotype of attracting women, dudebros, people who crash them, wannabe tough guys, etc. But a lot of people in that stereotype can afford ’em.
I went over to check out the new Camaro ZL1. Gorgeous car! And again, guys in their 30’s and 40’s, talking about the performance specs, looking under the hood, talking about what car they currently have.
Ditto with the Challenger SRT on display.
So why does this even matter?
Well, it seems that the price tag on the Japanese sports cars was much higher than those who wanted them could afford. (Then again, maybe I am just stereotyping these guys and they all have very wealthy parents who will buy them these cars.) It seems a lot of them are built for the teenager on YouTube who comments, “make it with X and Y and I’ll line up tomorrow to buy it.” But the people who are old enough to actually drop money on a sports car are turned off by its garish “boy racer” looks.
But when you went to the Accords, the Tacoma, 4Runner, other Japanese cars, you had a more mature audience of buyer.
Maybe it means nothing – seems Honda sells every Type R out there. But it’s an interesting observation about who lusts after them at the auto show versus who can likely afford ’em.