Because I can, says 'little old lady'
There's a little old lady in New Plymouth who has just become one of the very first people to buy a flash new Toyota sports car.
The vehicle is a special edition Toyota Racing Development (TRD) version of the Toyota 86, a new two- door rear-driven coupe.
Only 20 examples of the TRD model are initially being prepared, with customers able to choose their preferred transmission and colour before the car is built to order by Toyota engineers at a company facility in Thames.
They're going to be very good- looking coupes that will feature TRD front spoiler, side skirts, rear lower bumper spoiler, boot spoiler, forged alloy 18-inch wheels with black finish, a high response muffler with a four-tip exhaust, and a Brembo brake package.
Last week, Toyota New Zealand hosted the motoring media at the national launch of the 86, and part of the event included a visit to the Thames facility to watch the TRD versions being prepared.
During the visit, a Toyota executive explained that three of the TRD models had already been sold - including one to "a little old lady from New Plymouth", he added.
This news sparked an immediate response from prominent Palmerston North-based journalist Richard Bosselman, the New Zealand motoring editor of Yahoo! Autos website, who claimed she should not be allowed to buy such a car.
Asked why, he said a purchase by a little old lady might threaten the vehicle's sporty image.
Bosselman's opinion sparked uproar, with even Toyota New Zealand's general manager of sales Steve Prangnell dismissing it as "facile".
"Why would you even want to question customer motivation? It's their right to buy what they choose," he said.
Motor Industry Association chief executive Perry Kerr also laughed off Bosselman's argument as ridiculous.
"All sales are good sales as far as as the MIA is concerned. And if a certain individual wants to purchase a certain vehicle, why on earth would you want to stop it?"
And what about the little old lady from New Plymouth? She wanted to protect her privacy and didn't want to be named, but she did confirm she is 72, and is trading in a little Toyota hatch for her new 86 TRD.
Asked whether the purchase is appropriate for her needs, she said that's not the point.
"I've spent most of my life on a farm, and during that time I've driven everything from trucks to tractors, from horses to cars.
"So with that as background, as far as I'm concerned there's no reason why I can't buy whatever vehicle I want."
Bosselman said he voiced his opinion because the Toyota 86 has been purpose-aimed at young buyers and is also charged with attracting new business to a brand which is perceived by Japan's youth to have slipped into blandness and lacking in excitement.
"Also it is in short supply - so why, therefore, simply take the easy option of selling the car to an existing customer who might very likely find it inappropriate for their needs?
"And I bet this lady will," Bosselman added.
Taranaki Daily News