California car designer Chip Foose is famous for the show cars and retro hot rods that he produces for wealthy car enthusiasts.
Now he's trying to reinvent the ultraluxury market. Foose wants to re-create the pre-World War II glory days of Duesenberg and Bugatti, when coachbuilders produced vehicles that were rolling works of art.
His proposal: A luxury brand such as Cadillac, Mercedes or Lexus would build 50 chassis at, say, $250,000 each. The customer would commission a body from one of a stable of designers. Then a coachbuilder - say, Metalcrafters of Fountain Valley, Calif. - would produce the vehicle. Foose said 10 of these cars might be sold a year.
Foose spelled out his vision in a speech here. In the audience was North Dakota superdealer Wes Rydell, who has commissioned several cars from Foose. Foose said he has discussed his dream with folks at General Motors, Ford and other automakers. Everyone likes the idea, Foose said, but no one wants to step up. "If Cadillac did it today, it would be the marque of all marques," he said.
At first, I was inclined to chuckle and forget about it. But then I recalled the Cadillac Sixteen, a gorgeous concept car that wouldn't look out of place next to the ultraluxury cars of the past. GM got calls from wealthy car lovers who wanted to order that car on the spot.
Foose says he has gone public with his proposal because he wasn't getting anywhere behind the scenes.
Don't rule it out as a crackpot idea. If I were wealthy beyond belief, I'd prefer a Foosemobile to a common Maybach or Phantom.
You may e-mail David Sedgwick at [email protected]