Friday 25th May 2012

PH Blog: product placement

Why racing cars still sell road cars and Dan now likes the BMW Z4 more than before

A week after visiting the Nurburgring 24-hour for the first time and the sights, sensations and smells (mainly stale Bitburger and barbecued meat in the latter case, admittedly) are still with me.

But one of the most abiding is quite how effectively GT cars keep the old race on Sunday, sell on Monday adage alive. And how I've been suckered in.

The practice is, literally, as old as the car itself of course. Demonstrating a car's race worthiness is a proven marketing technique and one that, as a cynical hack, I'd expect not to be vulnerable to. But on the commute home the other night I found myself following a white Z4 in an adjacent lane on the M25. Now, I've driven Z4s. And they're all right. But I've never really felt much more than that about them. But the angle I had on this car more or less matched that of the photo above. And, in my commuting torpor, the two became interchangeable. Z4 suddenly much more desirable shocker!

Adding a race-tuned V8 does help a bit
Adding a race-tuned V8 does help a bit
I've been wittering on about how cool the Z4 GT3s looked from the moment I first saw them at the 'ring. Even to some slightly annoyed-looking Audi folk the other day. Previously unaware the car even existed, I thought it just looked so damned mean at standstill and then 50 times more so at speed. And there I was, a few days later, looking at the standard road car version and getting all Homer Simpson 'mmmm, beer' about it. Sucker.

Just goes to show though, it bloody works. The sight and sound of bellowing Merc SLSes on the Nordschleife rubbing door handles with Audi R8s at 120mph, a Z4 GT3 just ahead and a couple of 911s nibbling at their rear wings, has lost none of its potency as a marketing tool. Of those cars, only the Porsche has ever really made good on transferring this into road going equivalents, the R8 GT we drove this week more of a marketing exercise, but still a reasonable attempt at tapping into the LMS Ultra's track cred.


And though Aston Martin, McLaren, Nissan and others were also in the race (or out of it in McLaren's case, sadly) the overarching impression you get from attending the race is of the utter domination of the German brands, from the cars to the professionalism of the teams and the resources poured into them. It's an awesome display. And as powerful a message to potential customers as it ever has been.

Would I buy a Z4 as a result? Not sure I would. But I'm definitely more generously disposed than I was a week ago.


Pics by Frozenspeed

Author: Dan Trent

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23 comments on this story

Last comment was by dinkel
on 27th May 2012