By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. Our colleagues over at Automotive News have a recurring feature called “Future Product Pipeline,” in which they dissect and interpret the future product offerings from all of the auto manufacturers – import and domestic – selling vehicles here in the U.S. We enjoy reading these stories if only because we imagine the assignment requires ferreting out legitimate information through the smokescreen of disinformation offered by the manufacturers. We’re quite certain that some of the projected product entries several years out amount to pure conjecture with a large dollop of wishful thinking and flat-out fantasy on the part of the manufacturers thrown in for good measure.
At any rate, since this seems to be the season to forecast future products, I thought it might be a good idea to see what my friends at Fu-King Motors are up to. We last had an update with Mr. James “Jimmy” Fu (now 72) and Mr. S. L. “Sonny” King last April 1, in the memorable AE interview with “Al Cantara.”
As longtime AE readers may recall, Jimmy and Sonny have operated in the shadows of the gigantic Chinese industrial machine for years. For readers new to AE, I will gladly shed some light on these two flamboyant characters so they can have a more complete picture of who they are. Mr. Fu started manufacturing model cars in the late 70s, and it has now been confirmed that he controls every toymaking concern in China through a labyrinthian network of mom-and-pop factories and several other large conglomerates that he lords over. Mr. King became partners with Mr. Fu after initially supplying the elaborate wheels and carefully detailed tires on Mr. Fu’s model cars. The two have been partners for going on more than four decades now.
I first got to know Mr. Fu and Mr. King after they approached me at the Los Angeles Auto Show years ago. Apparently, they had stumbled upon Autoextremist.com after they first became familiar with the Internet, and they regaled me with the fact that they both learned English by having my ‘Rants’ columns translated for them. When I first met them, it turned into an uproarious encounter as they blurted out some of my patented phrases that they had learned phonetically, like ‘notgonnahappen.com’ ‘halle-frickin’-luja,’ and ‘the Answer to the Question that Absolutely No One is Asking.’ (How they learned that last one remains a mystery to me.)
Mr. Fu and Mr. King have remained in close contact with me ever since. As I’ve gotten to know Jimmy and Sonny, their frenetic pace and boundless energy never cease to amaze me. The Zoom calls I receive at 3:00 p.m. my time are usually booze-filled stream-of-consciousness rants by Jimmy with Sonny yelling things over his shoulder, accompanied by stylish model types dancing to disco music in the background at their secretive Shanghai lair. And their appetites appear to be even more boundless. In fact, Jimmy is still fond of aspiring female pop stars, while Sonny is a very generous sponsor of a female gymnastic academy. Fast American muscle cars are overflowing in their underground garage, which is an enthusiast’s cornucopia of greatest hits, including three Purple Dodge Demons (each modified to deliver 1000HP); two original “narrow-hipped” 427 street Cobras; matching L88 Corvettes; two new Corvette C8s (one black, one white); and a couple of custom-built Willys Gasser replicas from the 60s powered by race-prepared Chevy 502 big-blocks reserved for terrorizing the neighbors in the middle of the night. I have noticed that their fondness for Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon has been supplanted by Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which is a recent change, but, as they remind me often, they absolutely love their twin Gulfstream G650s (Jimmy’s is Jet Black; Sonny’s is Chaparral White).
As for the Future Product Pipeline for Fu-King Motors, I have pieced together some salient details, although it took three, lengthy, Basil-Hayden-fueled Zoom calls to do so. With much yelling – always the yelling – and the incessant disco pop playing LOUDLY in the background.
So, as best as I can tell, here is the timeline for what Fu-King Motors has coming:
2020 (2nd Half): To quote Sonny: “Forget the 2nd Half, 2020 is over.”
2021 (1st Half): The long-awaited debut of the Fu-King Gargantuan, the six-wheeled, all-electric SUV is designed to humiliate the new Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, the upcoming all-electric Hummer and “anything Ford has up its sleeve to counteract the Dodge,” according to Jimmy. Flaunting some incredible numbers: 2000HP; 7000 lbs., electric step ladders (“not steps, ladders,” Jimmy insists) and “a look that will humiliate all that other crap out there,” added Sonny. When I asked about the price, Jimmy and Sonny answered in unison: “Enough to make grown men cry!”
2021 (2nd Half): Another unexpected debut: The Fu-King Motors KickBoxer. This is the boys’ answer to the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco with “unequaled” off-road performance. Boasting a carbon-fiber unibody and a kaleidoscope of different versions, including a pickup and one cryptically referred to as the “RumRunner Edition” (“it can conceal forty gallons of Bourbon!” Sonny chimed in), the KickBoxer will be powered by an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter, fuel-injected, Twin-Turbo, flat eight-cylinder motor that delivers 600HP. When asked if this could possibly be construed as overkill, Sonny quickly replied: “We will introduce our competitors to the concept of getting their asses kicked!”
2022 (1st Half): The all-electric semi-truck that looks eerily like the Bison advanced long-haul trucking concept that GM Styling created for the 1964 World’s Fair is a definite go for late in the 1st Quarter. When I was shown photos of the concept, I thought they had resurrected the designers who did the original Bison it looks so close to the original (see below). But this truck will be a hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric heavy truck with a range of “700+ miles,” according to Sonny. The name? “Convoy.” (It seems that Jimmy and Sonny are huge fans of the original “Smokey and The Bandit” movie and the whole C.B. radio era in the U.S.)
The Bison heavy truck concept from GM Styling was designed for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
2022 (2nd Half): It’s clear that the development of the Fu-King Motors supercar has been fraught with problems from the beginning. That it has taken its toll on Jimmy and Sonny is obvious, as whenever I mention it their usual exuberant dispositions turn decidedly glum. First envisioned as a high-performance, hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric hypercar, the machine – code named “Bandini” – has been reimagined as a BEV aimed squarely at Gordon Murray’s T.50. Said to have 1+1 seating and a curb weight of 1900 lbs., Jimmy and Sunny are mum on any further information, which is unusual for them, although I know they’re constantly bickering about the details. Which means you can bet that the 2022 time frame is not even close to happening.
When I asked about products beyond 2022, the boys mimicked what I often say, chiming in again in unison, “It’s a giant we’ll see!” And, when asked if they had any plans to import their products to the U.S., the answer was a resounding, “Never!” Asked why, they answered again in unison, “Too much bullshit, too much aggravation.”
At that point all I could say was, “I concur.”
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.