Why Is Volkswagen In The Mood For Italian?

Giant ’80s car phone and mustache comb not included

Assuming you’re like the majority of my friends and family, you owe me money don’t pay much attention to the auto industry.  You’re probably happy enough that your car starts and that the lingering smell of spilled Lo Mein is starting to dissipate.  Well, if you’ve got room in your brain for PS3 cheat codes, your ex’s Facebook password, and the entire Holy Grail script, a little automotive news isn’t gonna hurt you.

Just like your favorite brand of frozen single-serve pizza, automotive brands are often owned or run by larger corporations or automakers.  In addition to the common ‘spin off’ badges that fall under a large company’s umbrella (i.e. Ford’s Lincoln and Mercury brands, Toyota’s Lexus and Scion brands, etc…), large auto makers will frequently look to buy out smaller brands that may be suffering through tough financial times.  Remember your buddy who was selling all of his collectible knives for $90 so he can make his child support payment?  You got the chance to help a friend AND pick up that sweet machete he keeps in his bathroom/pantry.

For the auto maker, buying an unrelated brand can help diversify their operation, bring in new equipment and talent, and finally give them somewhere to send Randy – the annoying guy from auditing who refuses to quit.  Sometimes these deals last, sometimes not.  Before the American auto industry started collapsing, US companies were buying popular European makes that were not doing well.  Ford owned British marques Jaguar and Land Rover (until ’08), and ‘boxy-but-good’ Volvo until August of 2010.   GM owned Saab (born from jets, adopted by the dudes responsible for the Pontiac Aztec) until January, 2010.  For the fans of these respected European brands (and many others who sold out to stay alive), seeing their charming and unique vehicles become Americanized was bittersweet.  The marque lives on, even though the cars would soon begin resembling those made by their new American overlords (see Jaguar X-Type and Saab 9-3).

You could have had a V8, but you got a Saturn V6…

When a giant manufacturer looms over a smaller ‘boutique’ brand, auto enthusiasts like me get the heebee jeebees.  Imagine some slimy, drooling fat guy paying to have his way with your sister (or, simply download the video like the rest of us).  While it’s probably not fair or fitting to associate a successful automotive firm with the image of whatever hairy slob my last sentence induced (I, for one, am picturing Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force), the reaction is somewhat involuntary.

Om nom nom nom…

The latest soul-sucking assimilation being rumored is no less chill-inducing as any past takeovers.  Chick car purveyor Volkswagen – the innovator who brought you the dash-mounted flower vase – has expressed interest in Ferrari.  That’s right – Ferrari – Italy’s pride and Dubai’s commuter-car manufacturer may soon be for sale.  Ferrari’s current parent company, Fiat, may be looking to dump the brand (as well as its smaller sports car line, Alfa Romeo) in order to fund their consolidation with Chrysler.  Yes, Fiat, who currently owns 20% of the American brand, plans to merge the two companies into one.

Are you still with me?  Yes?  Cool.  Back to VW…

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