Let’s all laugh at the Chrome Camry, this jumped-up Kentucky prole-mobile with toothy delusions of grandeur. Let’s all take a moment to chuckle at the idea that this could be an upscale car in other markets. The idea that one would pay extra to ride in it, as was probably the case with this particular Camry spotted by me on the way back from yet another McDonald’s lunch in yet another foreign country. Isn’t that hilarious?
It’s definitely hilarious, as long as you don’t think too much or too hard.
During my time working at Honda Marysville, the plant developed a separate-and-unequal paint process for Asian-and-Middle-Eastern-bound Accords. The line would be stopped, a special variant of white paint would be loaded, the cars would be run through as a group, and then they would be sent to a special inspection line. You see, Hondas destined for North American consumption will not be “failed” for paint defects below the middle of the door. Americans (and Canadians) are too tall and too undiscerning.
The Accords driven in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and elsewhere, however, receive special scrutiny both above and below that Mason-Dixon door line, plus a special paint-correction process where necessary. As a result, they’re shinier and nicer-looking. The paint on that chrome Camry shone in such a way that made me suspect a similar process in Georgetown, where the Camry is usually built. Or maybe this one is a Japanese Camry, which as I recall is run on the same line as the Lexus ES and can therefore be painted with the same additional attention to detail.
A Camry with special paint and upgraded interior and additional brightwork is still a Camry, of course. It’s definitely not a luxury car. Unless it’s a Lexus, which is definitely a luxury car. The Mercedes 240D sedans which littered the suburbs of my childhood had vinyl seats and roll-up windows but they were absolutely luxury cars in the United States, even if they were just taxicabs back home in Germany.
As the auto world moves towards common platforms and shared engineering we are going to see a lot more situations where generally similar automobiles are targeted at vastly different buyers through cosmetic or stylistic flourishes. Consider, if you will, that the Bentayga, Urus, Cayenne, and Q7 are all basically the same vehicle under the skin. So you can spend $53,500 on a base Q7, or you can spend $300k on a loaded Bentayga. This makes the spread in the Sloan Plan between an Impala and a Fleetwood Talisman look like the proverbial small potatoes.
It also makes the Chrome Camry seem like a pretty honest device. It’s a Camry with more chrome. You have a pretty good idea what you’re getting for the money, unlike the mark who buys a Urus or a Bentayga. Who’s laughing now?
Brother Bark wrote about leftover deals on new cars.
This isn’t something we’ve done before in a Weekly Roundup, but it’s my site so I can break the rules. Last week marked the Hagerty debut of some fellow named Patrick Bedard. It would be difficult for me to overstate my satisfaction in finding him and getting him on board. In a perfect world, I would have Setright and Baxter writing for me as well. They’re long gone from this earth but the twelve-year-old C/D reader in me is absolutely thrilled to have brought Patrick back into the game. How many people can say they “rediscovered” a childhood hero?