Consider these tidbits:
- BMW is in the process of building a "new" 1972 BMW 2002tii. It’s coming together in a glass-walled area of the BMW museum. The 2002 is the icon that defined every BMW since (except for those X cars, perhaps). And it’s orange, natch.
- Audi recently commissioned a "new" 1939 Auto Union D-type Grand Prix racer. Though the original Auto Union racers were funded by the Nazi propaganda machine, and sported swastikas, the design itself was a highwater mark for German automotive design which flowed from the brain of one Ferdinand Porsche. All of Audi’s design language is rooted in this car.
Why engage in these expensive endeavors?
Well, if a brand is an expression of everything you do in the world, then why not literally build the brand again in front of the world. These are tangible brand mantras, intensely meaningful. And probably better at saying "this is our brand" than a written positioning statement ever could be.
As such, they’re priceless.
18nov05 update: here’s a nice overview of the 2002 project, written by Matt Davis (superb as always)