Monday, August 8, 2011

Love those Surprise Car Discoveries

Yesterday, as I parked my car in a major downtown parking garage, I looked over and saw a small minivan. I thought it was a Mazda5 at first, until I noticed the Mercedes-Benz badge on its tail.

It was a B200--a car that Mercedes sells in many other places, including Canada--but not in the United States. This one had British Columbia license plates and was presumably down here for a vacation.

There are many cars that manufacturers, for one reason or another, don't sell in the States. I saw a tiny Ford Fiesta a few years ago that I'd never seen before and actually followed it for several blocks until it parked and I was able to check it out. It had Mexican plates. This wasn't the Fiesta that's now sold here.

The Mercedes-Benz B class will probably appear in the U.S. before long, as part of the company's efforts to market cars that are more fuel efficient. Despite having more efficient 6-cylinder engines and some Diesels, the company will have to meet higher fuel economy standards in coming years. The four-cylinder B class seems like a fine product--it's just a question of whether the company can make money on it and also whether it wants to possibly dilute its image with the public. BMW has been very careful with its 1 Series sedans to avoid making it seem too "cheap." You can't get one with a four-cylinder engine, for example, which would seem like a natural.

I'm always on the lookout for unusual cars--old, brand new, or "not sold here." Seen a Pontiac Firefly lately?

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