Bugatti Automobile SAS has entered the world of car-related fashion. The auto maker, owned by Germany's Volkswagen AG VOW3.XE -0.23% since 1998, plans an international chain of retail stores to sell its just-launched, limited-edition Bugatti clothing and accessories to add to a small range of merchandise already on sale. Bugatti showed off its new haute couture at Milan's annual fashion fair last week.
The car maker Bugatti has launched a new tailor-made clothing and accessories service. Gilles Castonguay spoke with Bugatti’s art director, Daniele Andretta at the launch event. Report via #WorldStream.
Bugatti is joining a growing band of premium auto makers determined to enhance the appeal of their brands and entice new customers, particularly women, by selling branded clothing, handbags, watches and other accessories. It is a strategy Italy's Ferrari SpA and Germany's Porsche, another Volkswagen brand, have long adopted.
Critics say that auto makers' fashion ambition is just a form of expensive advertising with little evidence that it helps sell cars. Any extra revenue is marginal compared with car sales themselves.
Gilles Castonguay/The Wall Street Journal
Bugatti unveiled a fashion line in Milan this month, adopting a branding strategy shared by such premium auto makers as Ferrari and Porsche.
But brand experience is important when it comes to selling expensive, luxury cars that represent multibillion-dollar investments by the manufacturers. The Bugatti Veyron Sport Vitesse has a €1.7 million ($2.3 million) sticker price so buyers aren't likely to buy on impulse, say brand experts. Once the decision is made, these buyers tend to stay loyal.
"First you need to get in the potential customer's face with good strong advertising and then follow this up down the road with an impressive dealership experience," said David Haigh, chief executive of London-based Brand Finance. "It is definitely worth heavy investment to ensure the brand is in the customer's mind at the time the decision is made."
"We want to create a world around Bugatti," said Wolfgang Schreiber, president of Bugatti as well as chief executive of Volkswagen's U.K.-based luxury car maker Bentley Motors. Bugatti wants to attract customers who aspire to the car but perhaps can't afford one, without sacrificing the qualities the brand is associated with. "The products must be at the same level as the cars—high-quality, high-priced, exclusive," Mr. Schreiber said during an interview at the Bugatti fashion show last week.
Bugatti Launches Fashion Foray
Ferrari, owned by Italy's Fiat SpA, F.MI -1.16% is in other auto makers' headlights. Ferrari was rated as the world's most powerful brand across all product categories by Brand Finance this year based on brand affection, loyalty and the company's profitability. The Italian maker of luxury sports cars and Formula One racers plans to sell fewer cars and is reducing production this year to maintain its exclusiveness. Ferrari will limit output to 7,000 cars this year and next after selling a record 7,318 cars in 2012.
"The brand is the biggest asset and we want to preserve the value of the brand," Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said in an interview at the Frankfurt auto show earlier this month.
Ferrari recently expanded its merchandising, licensing and services to include a tailor-made service so that customers can choose the color and leather of the interior of their cars, a restoration service for old Ferraris, and a driving school.
Auto makers are using accessories to attract women buyers, who are an increasingly important market in their own right.
Porsche created its own design label, which features a high-end accessory line, more than 40 years ago. In 2009 it introduced a women's fashion line, and earlier this year its first women's handbag. The company has signed up tennis star Maria Sharapova on a three-year deal to be its "brand ambassador" in a new global communications campaign.
Porsche says 30% of its customers are women. That compares with just 10% for Aston Martin, the U.K.-based sports-car maker best known for its link with fictional British spy James Bond.
Bentley is going down the handbag route to attract women buyers as part of efforts to double unit sales by 2018.
"Only 12% of our customers are women, which isn't good enough. We want to double this percentage within the next five years. [It is] brand extension but in a careful way," said Ariane Reinhart, Bentley's personnel director.
The first Bentley handbags went on sale last month, starting at $5,500 each.
Sabrina Tamburino Thorne was one of the first customers to purchase a Bentley bag when the British sports-car maker launched its range of accessories for women at a classic-car event in Pebble Beach last month.
"I really loved the shape and the Neptune Blue color—the size is perfect and of course it's exclusive," said the Philadelphia socialite, who is finance and budget coordinator at the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corp.
However, even Brand Finance's Mr. Haigh recognizes that while anything that reinforces the brand has a chance of helping car sales, the flow is usually the other way. It is the car that sells the branded goods, whether it is a Ferrari key ring or a Porsche suitcase, he said.
There is also risk that building out an automotive brand repels some customers, as well as attracting new ones.
"Bentley's [accessories] strategy is condescending and could backfire. Women are attracted to Bentleys for the same reason as men—their quality, performance, precision and heritage," said Tony Quinn, a London-based chief strategy officer at advertising agency at Publicis.
Write to Marietta Cauchi at and Gilles Castonguay at
Tue May 28 2013 14:25:03 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Another fantastic image from colleague Dave Greenlees at The Old Motor...
A Look Back at Haymarket Square in Boston: As congested as traffic is in downtown Boston these days, it’s hard to believe that the streets once looked like this. This panoramic view of Haymarket Square with the landmark Custom House in the distance was shot from a vantage point on an upper floor of the Haymarket Relief Hospital. Stop by The Old Motor to see detailed enlargements of the scene and links to many more Beantown photos @
Sat Mar 23 2013 22:05:59 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ESPRESSO MACHINE IN THE WORLD. A TRIBUTE TO THE GRAND PRIX ENGINES OF THE NINETIES, THE ESPRESSO VELOCE IS THE ULTIMATE IN FUNCTIONAL AUTOMOTIVE ART.
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NOT ONLY DOES THE “MOTOR” PRODUCE A RICH ITALIAN-STYLE COFFEE, THANKS TO AN OIL-FILLER THAT DOUBLES AS A GRAPPA RESERVOIR THE ESPRESSO VELOCE ALSO CREATES THE ULTIMATE CAFFE CORRETTO
CONCEIVED AND HAND-BUILT BY ARTE MECCANICA MASTROGIUSEPPE, THE ESPRESSO VELOCE IS THE LAST WORD IN COFFEE ENGINEERING.
Thu Mar 14 2013 01:58:56 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
When David Groeger was 17 years old, his parents bought him a white, 1998 Mustang convertible as a birthday present.
"In high school, it was the coolest car that was," says Mr. Groeger, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y. "People knew me for that car."
People still do. Mr. Groeger, now a 32-year-old lawyer in Farmingdale, N.Y. still has that Mustang—even though, he says, "I've put as much money into keeping this car running as it would [cost] to buy a new one." Among the repair bills: about $5,000 spent to replace the engine after the original melted down on the New Jersey Turnpike three years ago. He also has replaced the canvas top—it was ripped and leaking—and had two vanity plates stolen, including one that read DAGSBABY.
Mark Jones, of Orinda, Calif., says his dog Rocco was the only family member still happy to ride in his dented 17-year-old Volvo.
"My really close friends would love to see me get a new car," he says. Members of his family "get worried about safety." But Mr. Groeger says he's sticking with his Mustang. Even when the engine died, he says, he couldn't bring himself to scrap his beloved "Sally."
So strong is the emotional bond, in fact, that he even had the car's pony logo tattooed prominently on his shoulder—which he says makes it tough to trade up.
"What do I do, get a Hyundai tattoo?"
Nearly half of the 250 million cars registered in the U.S. are now 11 years old or older, according to R.L. Polk & Co., an automotive-market data company. And while many people drive older cars because they can't afford a better vehicle, there are plenty who could ditch their old car or truck, but don't. They like the values an old car reflects—dependability, frugality, a rejection of a throwaway, planned-obsolescence culture. Old cars can remind their owners of youth, family and adventures. Some old cars are more than machines to their owners. They have personalities. They have names.
Nikki Montgomery of Wausau, Wis., says it feels as if her Pontiac Grand Prix 'was built for me.'
In a 2010 paper, researchers at the University of Michigan's psychology department found that subjects who were prompted to think of their cars in anthropomorphic, or humanizing, terms expressed hesitation about dumping an old one, even after they indicated it was unreliable.
"There are really strong norms against replacing people because they are no longer adequate," says Jesse Chandler, one of the paper's lead researchers, who now works for a public relations company in Ann Arbor, Mich. Transferring those feelings to cars, however, can mean paying for expensive repairs. Mr. Chandler says he is pursuing new research, looking at how interpersonal relationships affect the relationships people have with their cars.
A trusty vehicle can inspire fierce loyalty. Robert Hill and his wife, Andrea, have a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380 SE—nickname: Brunhilde—that is still going strong after 190,000 miles. "We use that Mercedes like a rented donkey," says Mr. Hill, 64, a retired medical researcher who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., and calls Brunhilde the best car he's ever owned. "I'm going to be buried in that car," he says.
Orlando Soria of West Hollywood, Calif., with his Toyota Prius, which he says he has no 'emotional connection' to. He says he wept when he finally gave up his old Volvo.
Alexander Edwards of Strategic Vision, Inc., a California-based market-research company, says his surveys find that people who keep a vehicle for more than 10 years tend to value comfort, reliability and security. "They're more likely to garden and go to coffee shops," he says, "and do home DIY projects." They're more likely than the average consumer to have libertarian political views, he says, and have little interest in luxury features—unless they have a practical purpose.
The average new-car buyer is now keeping a vehicle for nearly six years—up from almost four years on average in 2001, says Polk vice president Mark Seng. The rising longevity poses a dilemma for auto makers. On one hand, they like to showcase testimonials from customers about the durability of their cars. But the longer life span means the average consumer will buy only nine vehicles in a lifetime instead of 13, Mr. Seng says.
Nikki Montgomery, a morning radio show host at WDEZ in Wausau, Wis., says she doesn't plan to let go of her 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix any time soon, even though it has 180,000 miles on it—more than a decade's worth of driving, based on the national average of about 13,476 miles a year.
"The seats kind of hug you," Ms. Montgomery says. "I feel like the car is built for me." General Motors Co. GM -1.06% killed the Pontiac brand as part of its 2009-2010 bankruptcy, so Ms. Montgomery can't get a new Grand Prix.
Ms. Montgomery and her husband have a newer SUV, but she's attached to her old sedan, which she calls dependable and fuel efficient. But she says her husband has set a boundary for her relationship with the Grand Prix: "My husband said, 'No, you cannot name a car.'"
Parting with a beloved set of wheels can be an emotional jolt. Orlando Soria, 30, says he wept when he cleaned out his 1999 Volvo V70 before donating it to benefit National Public Radio last September. Mr. Soria, a West Hollywood, Calif., interior designer who works for HGTV and private clients, says the car had been part of his life since he was a junior in high school and reminded him of road trips with his parents. Among the artifacts discovered when he cleaned out the car were cassette tapes of Japanese lessons his mother had listened to during drives.
Giving away the Volvo, he says, was a "final goodbye to the end of your adolescence." As for his new Toyota Prius? "I have no emotional connection to it," he says. "I don't identify with it at all."
Clinging to a car isn't just about money. Here's what one automotive research firm discovered when it surveyed consumers who held on to their cars for 10-plus years:
They like to travel overseas
They look for security in their relationships
They have a college degree
They tend toward libertarian political views
They like to garden and do their own home repairs
Source: Strategic Vision, Inc.
Big repair bills for a blown engine or worn-out transmission are often what finally kill an old car, says J.J. Jobst, owner of Schaumburg Automedics, an independent repair shop in Schaumburg, Ill. The end can be emotional. "I've had people cry on me," he says, when he's delivered the news that saving an old car will cost more than it's worth. But Mr. Jobst says even a major repair can be less expensive than signing up for a new car payment, "if you're going to keep it for three or four years."
As chief executive of Vehicle Donation to Any Charity, which operates a car-donation program based in Point Richmond, Calif., Mark Jones has ample experience with people overly attached to a jalopy.
In fact, he's one of them, he says, having finally unloaded his Volvo 850 sedan just last month after 17 years of loyal service. The 53-year-old from Orinda, Calif., says he kept it because he likes to hang on to cars for a long time and "get my money's worth." He also asks, "Do we want to consume that much?"
He had offered the car to his teenage children to drive to school, telling them stories of his own adolescent adventures bombing around in a friend's 1963 Plymouth Valiant wagon. But his children complained they'd be embarrassed to roll up in his old Volvo to a parking lot filled with BMWs and newer cars. (It got to the point, he says, where the family dog Rocco was the only one who would happily ride with him.)
The end came when the radiator blew up, and his mechanic estimated the repair at $1,200. Mr. Jones says he almost chose to get the car fixed, but ultimately decided to let go. "I knew my family would kill me."
Corrections & Amplifications
Nikki Montgomery drives a Pontiac Grand Prix. A caption in a previous version of this story incorrectly identified her car as a Pontiac Grand Am.
Write to Joseph B. White at
A version of this article appeared March 13, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Breaking Up With a Broken-Down Car Is Hard to Do.
Sun Mar 10 2013 15:52:38 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Honk if you were ever devoted to your car! I asked for a chance to say a proper goodbye to our family Plymouth. The night before we traded the car in, I slept in it. By MICHAEL MEDVED
I recently said goodbye to a car I drove and cherished for several years, repeating an experience familiar to most baby boomers. Bringing our 20-year-old son into the garage the night before taking the vehicle back to the dealer at the expiration of the lease, I unsuccessfully invoked the bittersweet nature of the moment. "Take a good look," I said. "This is the last night he's going to spend in this garage—the only home he's ever known."
My son didn't get it. "Sometimes you're really weird, you know that, Dad? I don't think your car is going to feel the pain."
Charlie Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, on how Washington's fuel standards are increasing the price of cars and gas. Photos: Toyota
Automobiles have never been as magical to today's young people as they were to that first generation after World War II. For kids like my son, it is easy to take cars for granted: Ever since he was born, his father had one and his mother had another, and teenagers in his world got their own vehicles as a matter of entitlement.
My parents, on the other hand, didn't get their first car till I was 5, and I recall their acquisition of a slightly used '53 Plymouth sedan as a very big deal. My father had just completed his Ph.D. in physics (thanks to the G.I. Bill) and had accepted his first significant job in a San Diego aerospace firm. This meant driving our family of three across the country from Philadelphia, separating a 20-something couple and their kindergartner son from the sticky web of immigrant clans back east. The car was the vehicle for adventure, a declaration of independence. We camped in national parks on the way west, taking pictures of the gray, boxy, strikingly unstylish Plymouth in one scenic location after another.
Even by the standards of the time, our glorious chariot counted as underpowered—with a noisy V-6 engine charitably rated at 100 horses. "Just think about it," my father proudly observed, rumbling down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, nicknamed the "Dream Highway" and completed just before the war. "If we were riding in a stage coach, like cowboy days, it would take a hundred horses galloping together to get us to go like this one car!"
The Plymouth continued as an indispensable member of the family during our new life in San Diego, with my mother dropping my dad at work in the mornings so she could use the car for errands and shopping. For me, the gray sedan still stood for outings, field trips and fun, especially after baby brothers began to arrive in 1956. Eventually there were three of them and that meant too many people—six, to be precise—for the Plymouth to handle with comfort, even before mandatory car seats. A new station wagon became inevitable, and my parents paid little attention to my pleas that they should somehow hold on to the old Plymouth.
I was 12 at the time of separation, and I remember the last night before they traded her in as inexpressibly sad. I asked for a chance to say a proper goodbye. My mom granted permission for me to sleep that night in the back seat of the Plymouth, parked on the street in front of the house.
No other parting with an automobile has ever seemed so dramatic to me, but it is always a reminder of passing time and relentless change when you dispense with a familiar vehicle. The first car I bought with my own money, a tan-colored '73 Subaru, had seemed fresh and frisky and up-to-date when I first took it home. A mere eight years later it had become an aging, nondescript clunker. In recent years, I've been switching cars more frequently because it makes sense to lease them for business purposes, so the attachment never gets especially intense.
And for my children, those connections mean virtually nothing because cars hardly count as the potent symbols of power, maturity and self-reliance they represented half a century ago. Al Gore and his acolytes equate the internal-combustion engine with climate change, overconsumption and environmental devastation, and the mayors of trendy towns like Seattle and Portland have declared war on the automobile as the enemy of civilized values. For enlightened souls of the "Millennial Generation," cars have become surprisingly uncool—riding light rail, bicycles or even buses is a healthier, more politically correct alternative.
It should come as little surprise then that conservatives—happily tuned to talk radio while they drive—remain the great defenders of the automobile. Cars appeal powerfully to one of the most important conservative values: individual freedom. Straphangers in public conveyances can only travel in groups, moving along with hordes of strangers according to schedules imposed by others. Bicyclists, free as they may be, are clearly limited by distance and time constraints. Once you get into a car, however, you go wherever you want, whenever you want, subject only to your ability to put gas in the tank.
Those who relish that sense of freedom, and make the requisite sacrifices to enjoy it, will quite naturally ride to and from work in splendid isolation. Sure, people on the right of a certain age may prove more likely to expend emotion in saying farewell to one specific car, but we will never go along with the idea of saying goodbye to the automobile.
Mr. Medved hosts a daily, nationally syndicated radio show and is the author of "The 5 Big Lies About American Business" (Crown Forum, 2009).
Fri Feb 22 2013 21:32:26 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
For a cool 2,995 british bucks you can get this exclusive P.Arts chair made from a period bucket seat that was previously used in a period Aston Martin racing car which has been exquisitely trimmed in official Aston Martin Racing/Hackett ‘Prince of Wales’ tweed. The legs of this highly comfortable yet practical 95cm tall chair have been bespoke engineered to replicate the look of the spokes of a Nardi wooden steering wheel common to many Heritage Aston Martins.
Sat Jan 05 2013 02:28:55 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Fred Addison is "81 and 5 months" old. He has run his corner garage or gas station in Kiama since 1952. He has resisted offers from multinational companies to buy him out, and still he shows no signs of slowing up.
Sun Sep 16 2012 01:41:16 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
During the 1960s Walker's ran a series of print ads featuring classic cars. Here's the 1933 Duesenberg SJ "Walker" LeGrande owned by the Lamberson family. Probably the most desirable four-passenger Duesy body style of all time, the same vehicle was the basis of the Monogram's 1:24 scale model kit.
Sat Aug 04 2012 16:30:42 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Wayne Carini, who has turned his father's former body shop in Portland, Conn., into a classic car restoration shop and dealership is also the star of Chasing Classic Cars on the Discovery Channel. Carini, talks about the business, F40 he has built up over the years. Providence Journal reporter, Peter Elsworth, finds out how it all started.