I’m a drifter, I like beat rides that get used. Show cars, and trailer queens although very interesting to dissect and analyze, are of very little importance or significance (minus Big Daddy Roth and some of the Lowrider and Kustom Kulture).
F.T.P. is something that has begun and killed many companies. F.T.P. has defined generations, has begun and killed legacies, and F.T.P. has had an impact on the car industry and the world for that matter.
I had always wondered what the draw to Volkswagons were. As I mentioned, I’m a drifter, I like to slide rear driven cars, but something about the culture caught me early on. It’s taken me many years to understand it, I’d flip through magazines, see some cool parts and get excited. The wheels, the stance, the dedicated builds, were all fun, interesting and well executed. However, I thought at first it was a waste on such a car. Not until I realized recently, that’s F.T.P. was in play. F.T.P. caused the scene, and kept it on it’s obscure but original path. Sure the cars styles borrowed heavily from the roots of vintage hot rods, but those old GM’s and Ford’s really began life under the careful watch of F.T.P. However, much like GM did in the late 70’s, VW seems to switching to the other F.T.P. from the old F.T.P. The spirit of the followers will carry on, but sometimes the one F.T.P. replaces the other and ruins a company.
The roots, if you want to find out why the tree died, you check the soil. Where did the good F.T.P. begin? Mr. Henry Ford, although a controversial fellow, started the F.T.P. in the car industry with this:
The model T took the fun and versatility of cars from the Rich man, and gave it to the poor man. I wish I knew what Henry’s intentions were; was it truly F.T.P. and/or was it a great idea F.T.P.? In any case, the Model T was available to many people now who originally could not afford a car, truck, bus or tractor. The model T really filled all those niches in one model and at a great price!
Hot rodding came along a while after, and at this point cars were common, manufacturers’s competed and money was to be made. People with a bit of an ego lost somewhere in that head on their chipped shoulders, had big grins, shiny wrenches and good eyes; They started taking the big motors from the heavier cars and jamming them into old-unwanted and much lighter, functional chassis’s……Sound familiar Honda Guys?
What does this have to do with VW you ask? How does GM and other manufacturer’s apply to this? History repeats. F.T.P. brought cars to the world, and the world loved them. But the other F.T.P. took over at some point, a different one for each car/manufacturer, and killed them.
Hot rods are what caused the car above. Because Ford Model T’s were light weight and functional to begin with, there was nothing holding you back, nothing making the engineering or for that matter, re-engineering from being open to creativity and speed. Much like the Model T, the Mustang was a car truly designed F.T.P. Although the markets needs had developed and refined by the time the Mustang came around, there was still gaps to be fit, and the Mustang did just that. The next step in the automotive industry was reached, cars were available to the general public, but finally, a car was available to the youth at an affordable cost. Just like McDonalds makes Happy Meals, the Mustang made young folks Ford buyers for life.
The Corvette came first, but fell second to the Mustang. Serving the same purpose and desire, but not the same price tag, the Corvette trailed behind. The corvette, to me, as I am opinionated, seemed always F.T.P. and never F.T.P. This was kind of sad, but great cars came from these beginnings. Speed and style were finally combined in a final product for wide sale across North America, but it really wasn’t affordable to the mass population.
F.T.P. is how VW started, and although Adolf was not a Rad Dude, the legacy of Ferdinand Porsches designs and input have lasted the test of time. The bug was a true F.T.P. car, and although at a few points through out VW’s history F.T.P. was considered, the original F.T.P. trumped it…well at least until recently.
The Beetle really started a movement, everyone could afford one; this was the car to see the world in. Much like the telephone and television, the VW Beetle showed you things you’d never have dreamed of. It took you from point A, to point B with an adventure along the way without need for copious amounts of funding. Sure it was basic, but the way you traveled was not nearly as important as the travel itself. People began to build their families, their jobs, their hobbies, their entire lives around these cars. They were truely F.T.P.
While the Corvette and the Mustang began to continue their ‘numbers’ battle VW continued a numbers battle of their own. The MK1 Golf/Jetta was a continuation of the F.T.P. attitude. Although competing against Datsun and Toyota, VW managed to appeal and share almost all the world Markets with both companies, some places they had more share, others they had less. F.T.P. really did lead to mobilizing the world, which was a very fiscal way to solidify all three of their futures.
Wait wait wait….why is there a Fiero in here? The Fiero is a car with a history VERY affected by both the variations of F.T.P. and possibly was associated with the death of GM………huh? That’s right, the mustang and Corvette kept competing, and while Ford stuck to it’s roots of making it an affordable fast car, it was still in a numbers competition with the Corvette, and it had nothing to do with the price.
Right…the fiero. Well the car was built to be F.T.P; -fast, -sporty, -good looking. Although these points are debatable, it again was bringing speed, style and affordability to the people in one basic package. Not the fastest car, and rushed into production, common GM style (Cadillac Cimeron), the Fiero was a mash up of the GM parts bin. Far away from the original concept, it was wrapped and bowed for the public to buy. As the years progressed the car was refined. I assume a pet project of someone higher up? The car improved and evolved at a fairly fast rate. However, F.T.P. was to be it’s demise.
That, pictured above, was the death of GM; why? After the 1988 model GM played with some prototypes, one being a factory Turbo Fiero. The mustang was at a better price point than the Corvette, but the Corvette buyers were such a strong club, such a loving community that GM made a decision. It was a tough choice, do we produce a car that is cheaper and faster than the Corvette and lose our Corvette legacy, or do we trump our engineers wishes and opinions to make a legend live on? GM chose the Corvette, it was F.T.P. and not F.T.P.
I now understand the Volkswagon guys, I still don’t like driving front wheel drives, but the Volks kids make complete sense to me. Cars are meant to see the world. They are meant to turn a key, hop in and enjoy the wonderful freedom a car brings. It doesn’t have to be the fastest or coolest, it just has to be YOURS, and YOU get to make the decision. The cars may be archaic, low tech designs, but they are not built FOR THE PROFITS, the best cars in life are built:
FOR THE PEOPLE.