Big brands all rar­ing to join the V8 race

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

DO not try to go look­ing in a car show­room for any­thing you see on the track in V8 Su­per­cars rac­ing.

There is no such thing as an Ere­bus. The Nis­san Al­tima does not have aV8 engine.

Even the Fal­con and Com­modore that race to­day are barely re­lated to the road-go­ing cars with the same name.

And the Volvo S60 that hits the grid in 2014? Well, it’s just a high-speed par­ody of a Swedish fam­ily car.

Volvo is go­ing to roll out a car with a re­tired V8 engine that was once used in the XC90 peo­ple mover, switch­ing drive from the front wheels to the back, not both­er­ing about airbags or ABS brakes, and def­i­nitely not fit­ting its bril­liant City Safety sys­tem. So it’s a Volvo, Sven, but not as we know it.

V8 Su­per­cars rac­ing might be great en­ter­tain­ment, but more peo­ple are now fol­low­ing driv­ers than car brands — as Craig Lown­des proved by swap­ping from Holden to Ford, then back-flip­ping to the red lion, all the while con­tin­u­ing as the big­gest drawcard in Aus­tralian motorsport.

As for the old say­ing ‘‘Win on Sun­day, sell on Mon­day’’, it’s so old that it’s past its sell-by date. Lit­er­ally.

If you want proof you only have to look at Fal­con sales re­sults. The fam­ily Ford — or some­thing badged that way — still wins on the track, but it’s a long-term loser in show­rooms and head­ing for the knack­ery in 2016. Or, quite likely, ear­lier.

So why are car com­pa­nies still join­ing V8 Su­per­cars?

The sim­ple an­swer is what the Gruen crew call mar­ket­ing and brand build­ing.

Volvo wants to look a bit speedy, not just safe and sen­si­ble, so it’s go­ing rac­ing.

Nis­san wants to cre­ate some an­tic­i­pa­tion for the up­com­ing mid-sized Al­tima, so it’s go­ing rac­ing. Ford and Holden need to con­tinue their ap­peal in the rust belt — as Toy­ota un­kindly calls it — where the Com­modore and Fal­con are the top choices for sec­ond­hand shop­ping, so they con­tinue rac­ing.

Track ac­tion also helps Holden shift some SS and HSV hero cars.

As for Ere­bus, it’s a life-sized rac­ing game for mega-rich Betty Kli­menko, who hap­pens to be a huge Mercedes-Benz fan. So Benz is not back­ing the pro­gram, and was ac­tively against it for a while, but team owner Kli­menko is spend­ing more than enough mil­lions to com­pen­sate with cars that are dead ringers for Mercedes E63s.

The Cars­guide crew are long­time fans of tour­ing car rac­ing, en­joy a bit of on-track biff, and know that noth­ing in Aus­tralian sport is more spe­cial than Bathurst in Oc­to­ber.

But the days when Bathurst was a high-speed show­room are so far in the past we may as well be dis­cussing the Juras­sic age.

Twit­ter @paulward­gover

Try buy­ing a Nis­san Al­tima with a V8 engine like this V8 Su­per­car and you’ll be dis­ap­pointed

Ere­bus may be a hot team on the V8 cir­cuit but there’s no such car to be had on the mar­ket

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