The Quarter-Million-Dollar Plastic Car

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What do you get for a quarter-million dollars in a car these days? You get the same plastic bumpers that come on $15k cars. Once upon a time,high-dollar cars were defined, in part, by gleaming chrome and polished metal – which cost money to make and so cost a lot to buy.

Today, the cars just cost a lot.

No matter how much you spend,it seems, you get the same stuff. Plastic. Cheap, painted – easily damaged. As insubstantial and vulgar (the word means common, low) as the plastic used to wrap throw-away electronic gadgets.

Which is what cars have become.

If you’re looking for what you used to get for a quarter-million in a car, have a look at this Bentley:

Sic gloria transit mundi.

. . .

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  1. Ah, the Roller L-Series V8. 6 3/4L, all-aluminium, wet liners, gear driven camshaft, reliable as the day is long (except for Lord Lucas electricals, I would bet). Back when our British cousins still had a true luxury car option home-grown, a unique British product, designed for British sensibilities and road conditions.

    Globalization has ruined the car market, Jaguars were British, then Fords, now Tatas…grrr! I just want the option of buying an American vehicle made and designed entirely in America of American parts, or a British car made entirely in the UK (England would be best, of course, Abingdon, Berks being preferred). Assembling (assembling, not designing, etc.!) VW’s in Puebla, Mexico is one thing, but nowadays, there’s no telling how many Chinese bits and bobs are in that Rolls Royce.

    • Hi Brent,

      Yup – and with the willing compliance of a working majority. That’s the tragedy here. Not that evil people seek to control us – but that stupid/fearful people are easy to control.

    • I was thinking about how nice it would be to walk through the mall until I quickly realized we live in post-America.

      There are so few places left to go without being repulsed by the sight of face diapers.

  2. The old compressors suck up lots of power. The ones in the 90’s didn’t and worked just as well and for longer generally. You could hang beef in my 93 Turbo Diesel on a 105 degree day. I’d leave it running with my dog in it for hours.

    • The Sanden and Nippondenso swashplate/wobble plate compressors running on R-12 were the pinnacle of mobile AC compressor design, IMHO. Give them enough condenser, and enough evaporator and airflow (and please, no MoPar self-discharging aluminum evaps, been there, replaced that!), they could keep anything up to a minivan icy cold, and not suck down 8-10 hp in the bargain. If you watched for leaks and did not let them run dry on oil, they would go 150K miles+ before wearing out, too.

      The Sandens are still good compressors, but R-134a just doesn’t allow the same performance in a similarly-sized system. And R-1234yf, ugh, what a steaming pile that is!

      • I had an 1984.5 Nissan pickup. The system blew up one day. All Japanese pickups were that way back then and they all blew the head gaskets too. It was a known thing they wouldn’t take west Texas heat.

        My 2000 Z 71 has a different style condenser that has about 9 ports to intake the hot gas. It has interior filters and will freeze you out. If the rest of the pickup was as good as the driveline and a/c it would be a forever vehicle.

        • Ah, and that is why I didn’t specify Nippon Kiki or Calsonic (or Honda’s captive company either, can’t remember the name). I’ve seen what you describe happen on many friends’ Datsun/Nissans and Hondas in the SE Texas heat and humidity, too. And as you note, some car companies did not size their systems for Texas, too little condenser was the usual problem I’ve seen. Same with the Harrison/GM replacement for the A-6, that Scotch yoke 4 piston short and fat thing…it seemed to die an early death too.

  3. I also despise those plastic pillar covers.

    That Bentley in Bill’s video is absolutely stunning. Those old English luxury cars move with aplomb. Everything they build today is so heavy-handed and inelegant.

    • There is virtually nothing left of quality or good taste these days- from the gawd-awful shrieking screaming noise they euphemistically call “music”, to the literal rags they deem to be fashionable, to the fugly bubbles which look like angry insects with four wheels, everything mirrors the brash, boorish, tasteless appetites of cretinous spectators of our modern gladiator society.Ugly, unrefined, obnoxious, designed to appeal to the fleeting and basest emotions of the lowest common denominator, built to only last as long as the current fad will endure, without even a pretense of tradition or timelessness….that is what apparently contents the masses- and the sad part is, that that applies to those who live in mansions as much as it does to those who live in the projects these days. 🙁

      • Nunz, haul a load of wrecked cars to the recycler and they’re not worth crap cause there’s so little metal. They don’t want all the damned plastic.

        • Gettin’ to be that way, Eight! Pretty soon, getting rid of a junk car will be like trying to get rid of an old motorhome, travel trailer or boat…you’ll have to pay THEM to take it off your hands.

          Old landlord at the communal storage yard I used to rent in NY had a travel trailer he was using as an office after he sold his sold house nextdoor to the yard. He dies; his wife wants to clean up, so she can sell that yard….they want $2K to take the trailer away!

          Landlord didn’t have the sense to get out of NY. He used to be rich. NY drained him of almost everything he had built for his fambly- now his kids’ll just get a few scraps. Can’t feel sorry for him though- he always supported the liberal ass-hattery- got what he deserved.

          The prick almost kicked me out of the yard once- Me, the guy who always paid his rent AHEAD of time…because another tenant whom I had brought in, who was always MONTHS behind on his rent, wanted more space, and “deserved it more”. (I wouldn’t even dignify the guy’s insanity by explaining that at the time, I lived in a studio apartment and was sleeping on the floor- while Mr. NoPayTheRent lived for free in a 3-bedroom house while someone else’s wife was paying for his car-carrier…).

          That was NY in the 90’s. Now it’s the entire country…..

          • Nunz, no shit and it’s even evolved to the WH. We have a kinda, sorta man who can’t put 4 words together that’s supposedly POTUS. I’m about ready to use my computer to only contact my credit union when I get my card hacked that I objected to from the start because I knew it was easily hacked. Go ahead, stick it up my ass. I like paying a few thousand so I only have to stick that fucker in the machine instead of swiping it. When I get my new one, I’ll leave it at home. Let’s see how that works out……about like Cuomo trying to kill off Jews cause he’s a mafia POS.

            • Morning, Eight!

              The prospect of electronic currency worries me even more than Diapering and Needling as these can be avoided without having to drop out of society entirely while electronic currency means not just Needling and Diapering but everything. Unless you become a woodsman – and I’m too old for that now.

              • eric, we drain our account to the minimum needed for power and internet and that’s about it. It’s ironic I used to make fun of people who kept their money in the sock drawer and now I are one.

                BTW, I wonder why when I try to sign in with this different computer(old one died)it says new password sent to my email which I haven’t changed yet but it never shows up?

              • eric, forgot to tell you, I got my cc hacked a couple weeks ago. I said when the credit union sent it with that chip it eventually happens to everyone. I was right. I’ve decided to convert my overhead diesel tank to gasoline and stop using the cc for fuel since that’s most likely where it got hacked.

                Digital money scares the whee out of me. I know what’s coming. I will not comply.

                I told the wife when they come for me, you just get out of the house and try for the pasture(she’s crippled). She said “You need to get me an AR”. Ok, I’m trying but they’re mighty pricey right now.

                It’s not like we don’t have enough trouble. In the last 2 weeks I’ve killed 2 coon, 3 skunks, 2 dillos and CJ cornered a rabid yote in the barn I had to shoot in my shelf of car parts(shit). It’s a never-ending litany of predators and vermin these days. I worry about the 2 legged type more than any.

  4. Most of what you get on a high end car is the name badge. This is not exclusive to cars. Guns are the same. A Colt AR15 may cost you several hundred dollars more than another brand, even though most AR parts are made by the same two or three manufacturers. Sig handguns are similar. You may, or may not, get a slightly superior handgun, but you WILL pay considerably more for it, maybe twice as much.
    My ex sister in law was so proud of her BMW, until I checked the VIN and told her it was made in Mexico.

    • Colt quit making AR’s for the public for a year but the demand is so great they had to jump back in the fray and there are countless guns that perform circles around the Colt now. I once had 3 of them and loved them but they won’t touch what’s now on the market. Sig is having problems too and has a massive recall on one of their best selling pistols. I had a BDA that was made by Sig and it worked flawlessly forever.

      But my STI even with a shorter barrel(I like the 20 inch, gets that noise further away)is a .75 MOA gun. Nothing to sneeze at and boron nitride internals requiring no lubrication. They had an ad with a guy holding one and asked “Need to clean your rifle’s action?”. He walked into a rushing river and held it under water and operated the action. It was pretty funny but true. Mine came with instructions to clean every month. After a year or so I decided I’d better do it. There was nothing to clean. Didn’t look like it had ever been used. A bit of gray out of the barrel. I used to have an auto sear back in the day after 3-400 rds it the BCG would be dirty enough to stop the firing pin and cause it to not fire. Took about 5 minutes to clean that and the barrel and back to burning ammo.

  5. Years ago, you didn’t have to know anything about cars to know when a car you were gazing at was an expensive car. You didn’t have to “be up on” the hierarchy of manufacturers and models, or anything like that- your 80 year-old grandmother could spot an expensive car from the sea of others at a glance.

    Today? I can’t tell which are the expensive cars! Considering that most people who buy uber-expensive cars do so to impress others, it seems kind of pointless if the only “others” who will be impressed are those who are familiar with particular cars…..

  6. Bill, in his narrative about the 1971 Bentley, says it ‘speaks of your stature in the world.’

    Well, flaunting it is one way to deal with personal wealth, up to a certain level of wealth and a certain level of escalating social chaos.

    Beyond that point, the truly plutocratic value discretion over display. Steve Jobs used to exploit a loophole which allowed keeping a California temporary plate for six months on a leased vehicle. Thus twice a year, young Steve would lease a new Mercedes coupe so that he could drive freely without harassment by celebrity seekers.

    These days, Tesla’s lunatic share price runup has made Elon Musk the second richest lifeform on the planet, approaching three-fourths the loot pile of top dog Jeff Bezos.

    Objectivity is out of reach when the human herd stampedes into collective madness. Currently, full-blown e-mania confronts us at every turn: electric cars; electric airplanes; electric trucks (most of them vaporware); yea unto electric tractors, for Goddess’s sake.

    Is this e-vehicle utopia for real? Unquestionably, with the heavy thumb of Big Gov tilting the scale, e-vehicles will proliferate. Same as if Big Gov in its megalomaniacal madness mandated animal-drawn carts for green transport — the streets soon would be knee deep in horse manure [as if they weren’t already, politically speaking].

    But Tesla’s celestial $544 billion market value, on a company that booked $28 billion in sales in the past four quarters, is more akin to the Y2K Internet bubble. Even if Tesla enjoyed a fat 20% margin (it doesn’t; it barely breaks even), it would take nigh on a hundred years worth of profits to repay the purchase price of a share. A hundred years … IS THAT A LOT?

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
    Or watch the things you gave your life to broken
    And stoop and build ’em back with worn-out tools

    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”

    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

    Rudyard Kipling, IF—

  7. My wife drives a 2015 Chevy Malibu. She hit a turkey getting on the freeway doing 30mph. The front bumper has scratches on it and I had to push it back in place. Think one of the clips broke. So cheap, what garbage. At least my pickup has chrome metal bumpers!

    • My wife used to drive in the dark every morning. She hit hogs, coons, deer(small dent on the fender)and even a fence post puller but that 95 Cutlass just shrugged it all off.


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