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Pimp Grandpa's Ride
According to an article by Jennifer Saranow in The Wall Street Journal, it's "not your father's Oldsmobile" that kids want, but your grandpa's. Literally. People are beating a path to old folks' homes to buy up those cherry Buick LeSabres and all the rest:

From Collins Ave. in Miami Beach's South Beach neighborhood to International Blvd. in Oakland, Calif., teens and young adults are cruising in "grandpa" and "grandma" cars that they have painted bright colors like lime green, outfitted with fancy sound systems and propped up on monster-truck-style wheels. They're sweet-talking their grandparents into giving up old cars and offering to buy them on the spot from strangers.

Television shows, such as MTV's "Pimp My Ride," and rappers, including Snoop Dogg, are helping to drive the craze. There's even a new magazine, Donk, Box & Bubble, dedicated to the tricked-out-oldie-car culture.

For U.S. car makers, struggling to lift sales, it's a painful irony that the models striking a chord with young buyers aren't those rolling off the assembly lines today but rather ones made decades ago. Detroit's marketers are trying to figure out how to ride the trend without ruining it.

"The worst thing you can do is start to promote this," says Steve Shannon, Buick general manager. (Still, car makers are embracing the idea of marketing the same model to two generations; see related article.)

Besides the older models' low price tags, young people say they like the challenge of adding features like big wheels to vehicles that weren't designed for them. The cars are easier to work on than newer, more-computerized versions and are sure to stand out. There's also the cool factor of being so "out" you are "in."

...The shift is starting to show up in market research. Brands like Buick still have an average buyer around age 60. But the percentage of used-car shoppers between 18 and 24 who said they would consider a Buick LeSabre jumped 168% in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier, the biggest increase of any model, according to market research firm CNW Marketing Research Inc., Bandon, Ore. And fewer 16-to-24-year-olds think such models are "for an older person" than did in the past, according to a CNW study tracking cars' so-called "stodgy index."

link via Romenesko's Obscure Store

Posted by aalkon at May 11, 2006 9:08 AM

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