Maybe, maybe not. The thing is dealers are aware of what they can sell, and what will sit on the lot forever. At a dealership I used to work at I was amazed that we never seemed to have the top of the line version of a certain model. I asked the sales manager why and found out that most people who want that model, want the cheap one. The few loaded models we had took forever to sell. So, we stopped ordering them. In my experience, the buying public is to blame for your lack of options.
"If the Mk5 Supra had been based on say, Mazda's new RWD platform and inline-6 that Toyota is likely throwing some money behind, enthusiasts would have been far more accepting of the new Supra like they are of the 86."
Maybe. The 86 has some Toyota in it. It is mostly a Subaru but there is some Toyota DNA in it. The biggest thing is the "86" isn't the next generation of any previous Toyota. Despite the throwback in name to the AE86 Corolla it is a car with really little past "heritage" or "baggage" so it gets a pass. If the "Zupra" was called something else and not "Supra" you would have less disgust by Toyota or "Supra" enthusiasts like myself. But since it is a Z4 Coupe with some "tuning by Toyota" many of us can't accept it is a real Supra because we see no Toyota DNA in it. A real Supra is all Japanese and first and foremost a Toyota. Toyota actually asked Supra owners what they wanted and they completely ignored us. So we will ignore this car.
I agree that enthusiasts can be problematic buyers. Just reading the comments on this site you’ll see variations of “If only (insert just about any car manufacturer here) would build a XYZ with ABC and DEF and GHI and this and that and this........then I’d buy one.”
Or my favorite: “This manufacturer must hate true car fans, otherwise they’d make ABC.”
Car manufacturers are smart. They see what sells, and what does not. The next time you see a car that does not have every tiny little detail that you would like, realize that a car like that would probably have a tiny sales potential. That’s why the manufacturer doesn’t make it. People vote with their wallets, which is one of the reasons the manual transmission is a dying breed. The vast majority of buyers (not dreamers) don’t want them.
Good point. The 911 GT2 and LFA were/are both halo cars, that are sure to lose tons of money for the car maker, but are more brand ambassadors with no expectation of profit. Those cars often become the highly prized collector cars trading on the auction circuit. It's the high production "soccer mom" cars that generate the profit.