Luxury Carmakers Stir Up Their Own History To Appeal Buyers

Rolls-Royce and Bentley, at the Geneva Motor show last
month, called attention to their own histories to highlight their glorious
pasts of making ‘wonders’ in their respective interpreted way and relating the
nostalgia to their current ventures, especially those projects that are
considered out of their range and stretch their core offerings. Using brand’s
history to advertise and gain symbolic mileage among buyers isn’t anything new
in the automotive industry, but here the luxury brands try to trace their historic
feats to authenticate their new gambles. Why do they do that? Does history and its symbolism matter for luxury cars??

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Bentley Motors, at the Geneva show, earlier announced its
plans to make a more serious two-seat sports car – and go head to head with the
likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren – with the unveiling of the EXP 10
Speed 6
sports car concept. It also used the Geneva launch to kick-start new
efforts to emphasise the brand’s history in speed events, including the
high-level international motorsport.

Bentley’s EXP 10
Speed 6
sports car concept previewed at Geneva show

The firm’s campaign highlighted the exploits of the Bentley
Boys
and their Le Mans successes in the beginning of the twentieth century as
well as today’s limited edition Continental GT3 challengers. Bentley Boys were
the wealthy British motorists clique who drove Bentley sports cars of the day
to four consecutive victories at the 24 hours of Le Mans from 1927 to 1930.
They are known for keeping the marque’s reputation for high performance alive
by defeating their greatest competitor at the time, Bugatti. Ironically, both
the Bentley and Bugatti brand names are now owned by the German auto giant
Volkswagen.
Rolls-Royce, on the other hand, emphasized its history in
off-road adventures in the buildup to the launch of its 4×4 project codenamed
as ‘Project Cullinan’. With no history with SUVs, the company claimed that some
of its vehicles in the past have been successful in events such as the Scottish
Reliability Trials and the Alpine Trials. It highlighted the ability of those
cars to fight “over challenging terrain with absolute reliability and
comfort”
in Australia, India, and other parts of the world.

2017 Rolls-Royce SUV rendering

So, what’s the significance here in such efforts by car
makers to evoke their own history? Luxury brands are very much aware that their
new models, that stretch their core offering and fall beyond what they are
actually known for in the contemporary times, need to be grounded in history to
appeal to their posh and well-informed buyers, who want their cars to have an
authenticity about them.
Bentley, for instance, is no where related to sports cars
except some of its performance-oriented cars of its luxurious range. Buyers are
starting to think that when there are hard core sports car brands like McLaren
or Keonigsegg, with dedicated research and development, and exceptional reputation, the idea of
a serene Bentley making a sports car is merely exciting as a news and nothing
beyond it. That’s applies to Rolls-Royce SUV as well. Car makers want to break
that flatness someway or the other. We also saw how the legacy of the Maybach brand seems important to Mercedes. Well, history and its symbolism does matter
here, more so for luxury goods.

Also Read: Mercedes-Benz Wants To Retain Maybach Legacy

Bentley’s EXP 9 F SUV concept (Read here more)
In fact, Bentley is also working on an SUV named Bentayga, which will also be ready by 2017 as that of Rolls-Royce.
The ‘SUV fever’ has caught almost every luxury makers who are tempted by the
growing customer preference for high-ride vehicles and volume sales. But, they
don’t want their new products to be called as SUVs. Bentley very tepidly
embraces the term with the Bentayga. Rolls-Royce calls its new SUV as a
“high-bodied car” that “can cross any terrain.” That
obviously sounds SUVish, isn’t it?
SUVs are long associated with rugged automotive vehicles
built like trucks, with their uninspiring drive and back-bone breaking ride.
They can never match with the core principles of what Bentley or Rolls-Royce
are supposed to offer. Thus, making SUVs is well below their dignity and can even end up polluting
the brand ideals. And so they are careful about that too. That’s again why
Bentley reiterate again and agian that their new sports car offers thrilling,
driver-orientated performance, “complete with trademark modern Bentley
luxury and effortlessness.” 

Also Read: The “SUV”ish Way Of Driving


Photo Credit: Autoblog.com, Tyreblog.co.uk

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Dhiyanesh is equally crazy about driving cars and writing about them. This guy loves everything with a steering wheel, so, at someday if self-driving cars take up all driving, he is sure to go nuts! He likes sedans of 90s era, esp W140 S-Class and R34 Skyline GT. Apart from usual motoring stuffs, he maintains a strong appetite for sociological perspectives on cars, their historical and cultural footprints. He owns a 1999 Fiat Siena passionately, and drives a Ford Fiesta.