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Auto blogWed, 27 Nov 2013 08:57:00 EST
The argument is made in a Reuters article: Audi is falling behind other luxury brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, due to a lack of research-and-development spending and "brain drain," or the migration of top executives and R&D chiefs to other parts of the Volkswagen Group. Reuters notes that Audi's current R&D chief is the third in 16 months.
Audi, which contributed to 40 percent of VW Group's $11.6 billion in profit the first nine months of the year, is delivering cars at a record pace: 1.31 million were delivered from January to October 2013 versus BMW's 1.35 million. Yet Audi, Reuters reports, doesn't have a halo car akin to BMW's new electrified i3 and i8 or an answer to Mercedes' plug-in-hybrid S-Class, and the R&D spending at Audi is less than BMW and Mercedes by a fair margin. It's noted in the article, however, that Audi benefits from other R&D spending within VW Group.
Reuters mentions that BMW "trumpets its new 'i' series" and the new Mercedes CLA and GLA ranges are winning "rave reviews" as part of its argument that Audi's recent lack of technological innovation could hurt future sales. Those cars do pack tons of new technology, some of which are firsts for mainstream production cars. But last time we checked, the i3 could be causing BMW's stock to slide, the CLA isn't receiving the rave reviews that Reuters would have you believe and the GLA hasn't been reviewed yet.
Clark Gable's 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing doesn't sell, then does sell for $1.85 million [UPDATE: w/video]Sat, 19 Jan 2013 20:10:00 EST
How much extra value does previous celebrity ownership add to of a car? Really, there's no way to know until the car in question hits the auction block and bidders start raising their hands. In the case of the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing you see above, the celebrity owner is none other than Clark Gable, who purchased it new. After Gable's death in 1960, the car changed hands a few times before settling with Charles Wood in 1975.
A high-dollar restoration was performed in 1989, and period accessories added by Gable himself were kept in place, including the Rudge knock-off wheels and Nardi steering wheel. Any Mercedes-Benz 300SL is worth a big chunk of money. In the case of Clark Gable's old Gullwing, the bidding stalled at $1.9 million here at the 2013 Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale. As one of the 5000-series cars, this 300SL carried a reserve, and a bit of after-the-fact dealmaking saw the car change hands for $1.85 million.
You can see our high-res image gallery above, and the car's official auction description below.
The wheel ranks right up there with the telescope and four-slice toaster in the pantheon of inventions that have moved humankind forward. But what if a circle in three dimensions had never occurred to anyone, and we all had just moved on without it? Perhaps we'd be driving around in Lucas Motors Landspeeders with anti-gravity engines. Or maybe we'd have the same cars we do today, just without wheels.
That's the thought experiment that seems to have led French photographer Renaud Marion to create his six-image series called Air Drive. The shots depict cars throughout many eras of motoring that look normal except for one thing: they have no wheels. The models used include a Jaguar XK120, Cadillac DeVille (shown above), Chevrolet El Camino and Camaro, and Mercedes-Benz SL and 300 roadsters.
Perhaps one day when our future becomes our past, you'll be able to walk the street and see with your own eyes the rust and patina of age on our nation's fleet of floating cars. Until then, Monsieur Marion's photographs will have to do.