Jamesdean

The 30th of September of 1955 James Dean died in a car accident. The “Little Bastard” numbered 130 played its part. It was a Porsche 550 Spyder, one of just ninety produced, a silver bullet,  shiny, fast and rare. After the crash the car was broken up for parts, but today the remaining parts are nowhere to be found.

The 24 years old movie star acquired the Porsche 550 Spyder during the shooting of Rebel Without a Cause, to use it in a race in Salinas, San Francisco. Dean hired the legendary car customizer George Barris to work on the car. The racing number 130 was painted on the front, sides and back. Along with red racing stripes and the name Little Bastard on the back.

The Little Bastard was supposed to be trailered to Salinas that day but at the last minute, Dean decided to drive himself and took the mechanic with him. At 5:59PM a 1950 Ford Custom Tudor Coupe, traveling in the opposite direction collided with the Spyder. James Dean died and his copilot,  the mechanic Rolf Wütherich, was badly injured.

This was the beginning of the Little Bastard disasters. George Barris purchased what remained of the Porsche, selling off the engine to Troy Mchenry and the chassis to William Eschrid. When the wreck arrived at Barris’ garage, the Porsche slipped and fell on one of the mechanics unloading it. The accident broke both of the mechanic’s legs.

And the show goes on. During a race at the Pomona Fair Grounds in 1956, Troy McHenry and William Eschrid both racing cars with parts of the Little Bastard suffered accidents. McHenry died when his car, which had the Porsche’s engine installed, went out of control and hit a tree. Eschrid’s car flipped over. Eschrid, who survived despite serious injuries, later said that the car suddenly locked up when he went into a curve.

The car’s evil influence continued after the race. One kid trying to steal the Porsche’s steering wheel slipped and gashed his arm. Barris reluctantly sold two of the car’s tires to a young man; within a week, the man was nearly involved in a wreck when the two tires blew out simultaneously.

While being stored in a garage in Fresno California the garage caught on fire and everything but the Spyder was destroyed. In fact the paint was barely even scorched. When the car was put on exhibit in Sacramento, it fell from its display and broke a teenager’s hip. George Barkuis, who was hauling the Spyder on a flatbed truck, was killed instantly when the Porsche fell on him after he was thrown from his truck in an accident.

The strange deadly events surrounding the car continued until 1960.  That year the Porsche was  loaded onto a box car in Miami, Florida  safety exhibit and sealed shut. Then it was transported via train back to California. When the train arrived in Los Angeles, the seal was still intact, yet the car had mysteriously  vanished. To this day, the Little Bastard’s whereabouts is unknown.  

So it seems that it is not just in horror stories that cars are possessed!


Author: Vicky Lima  

Vicky Lima is a multifaceted professional with a Master Degree in Advertising. She is passionate about customer experience and the Automotive world. Besides her work in social media, she shares her passion and knowledge about cars as a writer. An avid traveler around the world investigating the relationship between customers and brands. 


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Porsche 911 RSR (77), Dempsey Proton Racing: Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long, Marco Seefried

There are currently about 500 official motorsport circuits and several hundred international race series worldwide. While some struggle for their financial existence, many circuits and series still have a great number of spectators and an extensive media coverage. The question here is, what is the impact on car brands and their relationship with the customers?

Technology developments

Are you one of those people who are enthusiastic about motorsports? If yes, you are part of a large community. Despite the climate and environmental debate around cars over the past years – the love for motor sports stays true. This is very much to the satisfaction of both operators, participants and spectators.

This acceptance and enthusiasm of the general public is the result of a decades long  commitment between car makers and motorsport committees who ambitiously revise and tweak motorsports’ rules with the objective of advancing technology. In this way they create a sustainable and credible external image which is also continually adjusted to be up-to-date and trend setting.

Some technologies developed for motorsports have found their way into our own vehicles. For example, the dual clutch transmission was applied in motorsports by Porsche in the eighties. In the same way, the high-performance capacitor based hybrid technology was first developed for motorsports more recently.

When motorsports becomes marketing

There is also a question whether the investment of participating in these races pays out. The sports car manufacturers usually participate for two main reasons: testing and exposure. There is nowhere else that can they recreate the extreme conditions and extreme load that is found in endurance races. Sports performance is one of the key elements of a sports car manufacturers external image and very much required for customer satisfaction.

Similarly, car manufacturers ask themselves how a successful image can be built in a way that can be used for marketing campaigns that are meaningful and credible to their customers. In sports – especially in motorsports – the problem is that on one hand while second-placed competitors are spurned as just an also-ran in the media, victories can also be quickly forgotten.

Long-term participation and recurring wins

It is really only through a successful long-term commitment to motorsports that a sports car manufacturer can establish a worldwide brand and continually reinforce its image as a car maker.

Let’s take Porsche again as an example: by splitting their engagement to different race series (rally, endurance racing, several DTM racing classes and Formula 1) and their continuous successes, Porsche advances to all essential areas and has created a strong brand. This way Porsche is able to acquire new customers buying Porsche cars.

This makes it difficult for manufacturers who only make a short term commitment to leverage this into a customer demand for their products. It is also hard to build customer satisfaction thanks to their meeting the aspirations they have created with their sports activity.

Is the presence and the success of an automaker in motorsports series (DTM, Formula 1, …) important for you?

 

*Article image: Porsche 911 RSR (77), Dempsey Proton Racing: Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long, Marco Seefried

 


Benjamin Brodbeck Publicist Automativ Guest Blogger BARE InternationalAuthor: Benjamin Brodbeck @automativ

Benjamin Brodbeck, 24 years old, is a multifaceted petrolhead. Besides his work as a jazz pianist, he brings his passion and knowledge about cars as a publicist at AUTOmativ.de. He studied Automotive Business Management and is currently doing his master’s degree in journalism at the University of Vienna.


Interested in becoming an Automotive Evaluator with BARE International?

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Automotive community We Are Cars?

Apply to: wearecars@bareinternational.com

Autosalon auf der Techno Classica Essen 2015

It’s rare that a car will sell itself; though it may be possible for super cars, which are emotionally charged and sold to powerful wealthy customers who don’t need to be persuaded. But wait, even then is it actually true? In this case appearances can be deceptive and we jump to our own conclusions.

The manufacturers of these highly attractive cars use psychological methods for sales which are being communicated to the public and to the individual customer by the marketing department and the sales staff.

One of these principles or methods is the impression of rarity, products typically get more popular if there aren’t many of them. Consequently, the demand raises the price. Then there is the sympathetic salesman, sympathy is another method of sales psychology. It’s easily understood how to apply and implement this method, even though it cannot be universally applied.

It’s extremely rare, buy it now…

The perception of rarity applies to super sports cars and parts of the used-car market but for the volume market other sales strategies are in use. For instance, car manufacturers try to influence people in the social circles of a potential customer and convince them to buy a car so that – in a kind of chain reaction – the potential customer, affected by peer pressure, will also make a purchase.

As a result a potential customer may find themselves coming home with a personally signed purchase contract three days after they went to a car dealer to take a look. Superficially this appears to be a purchase made for inexplicable reasons.

Sympathy: incorporated at the dealer

Even minor changes to an overall product or service can have profound consequences on the degree of customer loyalty to that product or to the quality claims of the product. Scientific studies have shown that product packages with pictures of faces are more popular if their pupils are larger. Pupil dilation is said to be an indicator for sympathy. So what could be changed in car dealerships? Set up billboards or posters showing attractive faces? Why not!

In this way small, insignificant changes on a product or on the product package will have a stronger impact on the customer’s perception than the customer may admit to or even realise. The customer’s subconscious mind draws conclusions on the properties of a product, even though the product appears not to have changed at all.

In a similar case in a different industry, many people were suddenly complaining about the quality of a brandy after the top capsule was changed from lead to plastic. To investigate and verify this theory the company sold half of their product with lead capsules and the other half with plastic. Indeed the result showed that customers perceived a change in the quality of the brandy depending on the product package.

There are many situations which correlate with this so-called Irradiation Phenomenon when buying a car. For example the perception of a cars acceleration depending on the return spring in the gas pedal or the clothes of a salesman defining their position in the company and the sympathy that the customer will get. Understanding these factors and how they can be used to improve customer satisfaction and push towards the elusive perfect sale will be keys for future success.

How do you feel when you are at your local car dealer looking to buy a new car? Are these things that you’d pay attention to in your conversation with the sales person?


Benjamin Brodbeck Publicist Automativ Guest Blogger BARE InternationalAuthor: Benjamin Brodbeck @automativ

Benjamin Brodbeck, 24 years old, is a multifaceted petrolhead. Besides his work as a jazz pianist, he brings his passion and knowledge about cars as a publicist at AUTOmativ.de. He studied Automotive Business Management and is currently doing his master’s degree in journalism at the University of Vienna.


Interested in becoming an Automotive Evaluator with BARE International?

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Automotive community We Are Cars?

Apply to: wearecars@bareinternational.com