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Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #74: The leatherette singularity doesn't just apply to leatherette

T.S. Eliot once wrote that "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." Steve Jobs stole that quote, ascribing it to Pablo Picasso. Perhaps he hadn't read Catch-22, which reminds us that T.S. Eliot was not only creative but well-compensated to boot. T.S. Eliot also opened up "The Waste Land" with a dedication to Ezra Pound as "il miglior fabbro," or "the better craftsman," but he stole that from Dante, who used the phrase with reference to Arnaut Daniel. Now here's the kicker; Pound was reportedly a fan of Daniel and therefore would have been both pleased by the allusion and troubled by the suggestion that Eliot's fame would eventually eclipse his, as Dante's eclipsed Daniel's. "If you see dear Mrs. Equitone / Tell her I bring the horoscope myself: / One must be so careful these days."


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And as with everything else in American life, these rules won't apply to you if you've got the cash to splash.

People putting their skin in the game is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for cars with personality to survive. Take the Ford Fiesta and Focus ST for example. Ford made a bet that there would be enough Americans to buy European hot hatches, and their bet paid off. Reddit and Jalopnik posters that are typically too cheap or too broke - depending on how charitable you feel - to buy new cars actually bought these cars new! But they died because there was a change of the guard at Ford, and the ST badge now just makes me wonder why that person didn’t just buy a Lincoln if they were gonna spend that much money.


The lack of things In vehicles today go well beyond All mentioned above. 

I was just having a discussion with my tire engineer buddy. Things like spare tires are vanishing. Most of us assume it is due to weight and cost savings by a mfg. 


That is part true. The real problem is most tire companies want nothing to do with compact spares. There is just no money in small spares. Most never get used, rarely are they replace outside a factory. They are just dead products for the tire companies. This is why you may have brand x on the car and the spare is brand y. 

Intermediate Driver

What impressed me about the piece I just read is that Baruth has actually internalized the mediocrity and then mocked it with his language.  Any article that can pull off the use of the phrase "immanentize the eschaton" without being a chest beating heap of crap from someone who is trying to impress with a vast knowledge of foolishness is a winner in my view. 


Intermediate Driver

Okay. Don't kill animals! (After all, the only reason animals are killed is for our automobiles or clothes.) We need more vinyl, pronounced "PLASTIC", in our cars. But then, we get, "Oh no. That is made from oil and oil is bad for the environment! It won't degrade in a land fill and you can't burn it because of the toxic fumes! Okay all you tree huggers, your next car will only have exposed steel springs because the foam is also made from stuff you don't abide. Give me leather any day. 

Intermediate Driver

What a silly piece. This article gives new meaning to the term, "first world problems."  Hey, Jack.  Just go to one of the zillions of auto and boat upholstery shops out there.  They will make you anything you want AND put it in your car for a fraction of what the car makers want for "upgraded" interiors. 


Sheeesh, what a whiner.


Not only do I feel like a whiner now, I feel stupid --- because having built and rebuilt many cars over the past two decades, I have never found an upholstery shop that wants to recover airbag-equipped seats and confirm that the airbag will still work afterwards. This is such a hassle that there's only one aftermarket supplier left willing to do the tests --- Katzkin, which then provides data to its partners on how to recalibrate bags. As an example, if you swap from a cloth F-150 seat to a leather Katzkin seat for your ROUSH F-150, the airbags have to be recalibrated for that. Furthermore, recovering the seats with a non-OEM-approved material will void your airbag warranties. And if you get into a crash and any of your passengers suffers an injury because your seats hampered the airbag, you can save yourself two years' worth of court date by just signing your house over to the passenger in question. Now, if you're aware of an upholstery shop that can address those issues and put some velour into my 2014 Accord, preferably in the contiguous 48 states, I will send you a very nice bottle of wine along with my heartfelt thanks...
Intermediate Driver

Hell(er) of good job explaining the current paradoxical situation with automotive interiors. I’m glad I ever went to college and keep reading. You invoke an another dead poet, Bill Shakespeare about an additional automaker’s characteristic “C”. Automakers are creative; there’re good at making up names of things. BMW has SensaTec for its isn't leather interiors. Sounds to me that’s much like what I’d get with genuine simulated wood grain. You can also get the world-class material of NuLuxe in a Lexus, I think I’d prefer getting the OlLuxe. Bill said it best "What's in a name? That which we call" plastic "by any other name"….

BTW My MB fan friends tell me that MTex is left behind alien technology.


"...that would be like me reading a biography of Mike Tyson to help my weekend boxing and coming away from said perusal with nothing but the determination to get a face tattoo."


This alone was worth the read. 🙂 


I've had to special-order several cars because dealers tend to only want to stock white, black and silver cars and then only with weird option mixes. It makes me wonder how many people absolutely have to drive home with a new car the same day they go to the dealer? What if the dealer had stock of just a couple of models to show what was available and allow for a test drive and people just ordered exactly what they wanted? And manufacturers filled those special orders quickly because they weren't busy making tens of thousands of vehicles that will languish on dealer lots for months. I'd bet a lot of people would wait two weeks to get exactly what they wanted. The problem is a special order can take three months (or more).


Another winner, both entertaining and enlightening.  You should trademark "immanentize the eschaton".


Had two Jeep Libertys for company cars. The choice of interior colors was limited to gray or "khaki," which turned out to be a slightly different shade of gray. And even with the khaki, much of the interior was in the gray color anyway - which is to say, some of the parts were only made in gray.

P.S. - whatever happened to naugahyde? 



Pit Crew

It is my understanding, correctly or otherwise, that NO vehicles that were given away on The Price is Right had leather interiors, as Bob Barker would not allow it.


Bob Barker did allow sexual harassment & assault (committed by himself) so he seems to have valued puppies over employees. Probably not a role model?

I could not even attempt to finish this drivel.  The author needs to have a drink and wake up.  

Intermediate Driver

I don't know why people think leather is the way to go. I was sitting at a salesman's desk at a dealership and overheard the beginning of a conversation at the next desk "So you're going to want leather, right?" begins the salesman (I didn't hear the reply)? I couldn't believe this was the salesman's opening line.


I was there to buy a P/U truck and specifically had to take a trim level that was lower on the totem pole so I could get cloth seats. Leather is hot & sticky in the summer and cold & stiff in the winter. Why would I want to pay [a lot] more for such discomfort? It's not like it lasts longer. And with products like Scotchguard, the stain resistance of cloth is quite good.


"Leather is hot & sticky in the summer and cold & stiff in the winter."


Sounds like low-quality leather (like you might get in a pickup truck), or fake leather (the subject of this piece). High-quality leather (like in an Audi) is very comfortable.

Advanced Driver

Let's not forget the dearth of available exterior colors as compared to, for example, the 50's. 


So the manufacturers will do away with leather interiors in favor of leatherette, made from fossil fuels?

Intermediate Driver

When I saw the title  my hope was something  referencing "Warm Leatherette" by The Normal.  

I also lament the beigeification of modern cars, even though my everyday belt is nylon webbing.  

Intermediate Driver

I had noticed this synthetic trend starting many years ago, especially the concerted effort to understate it, cowardly operators, they are! With nomenclature such as Nu Luxe, Alcantara and Sensor Tec, coupled with the carmakers diversion tactics like the perforation of vinyl for your heated and air conditioned thrones didn't fool me. I actually ordered a new 2002 BMW 325 I with leather as the only option; that wonderful aroma alone permeating the cabin was worth the price of admission, not to mention the breathability and durability of the material. Besides, who wants a drivers' car without leather, I don't know, but apparently there are people, vegan or whatever, who will forego such basic necessities...the same folks that are used to wearing synthetic shoes, belts and bags, I suppose. Truth be known, good old fashion cow hides would probably be less impactful than some of the CA Proposition 65 products in vehicles now! The leatherette singularity, indeed!!!       

Intermediate Driver

I did just this back in August of 2018, and had the last one of two manual transmission-equipped, Eternal Blue Mazda3 Sport hatches delivered 200 miles from the dealer who had it to my house.  Pity the interior is "plastic fabric", but at least Mazda manages to pull it off without the cheap feeling of the Civic or the McDonald's Play Space- esque Corolla. 

Intermediate Driver

As the greatest living automotive writer I hesitate to correct you, but "from whence" is redundant.  "Whence" is sufficient.


Please don't disappoint me again.


You're absolutely correct, of course, With that said, if I have to pick someone to never disappoint again it would either be my wife or my pit crew chief!
New Driver

Jeeeze Jack, Get to the point!  I was hoping to find some usable information regarding real leather vs artificial leather. Instead, I find an author that is more interested in being "profound" in his writing than informative to his audience. Disappointing.


What would you like to know? I'll find an expert and ask them.

On the menu page, this article is credited to "Grace", yet when you click to go to the story, it's credited to Jack B?


Grace and Bryan post the majority of our articles in the community, so their name goes on the posts, but the article is mine.

Fun article and too true.  Sadly, crap always floats to the top.


It sounds as if you're attributing "Catch-22" to T.S. Eliot. It was written by Joseph Heller.


I'm sorry if it reads that way --- I have to admit that I rely on my audience to remember who wrote it. Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

very strange, thx


" This will be good news for Mercedes-Benz, which has a leatherette so good that it makes a nice wallet."  Not any more, apparently. My wife has a 1985 300D, bought new, that is still perfect in every respect. For the winter, she has a 1992 4Matic, ditto.   I have a 2012 E350 4Matic, which I wanted with MB-Tex upholstery because of its observed performance over time. The front seats' MB-Tex developed cracks and were replaced by the dealer three years ago.  The driver's seat is now cracking again.


Newer MBs are too new for me to know if they have fixed the problem. I hope so; I have no other complaints about the car.


In a previous Post Script it was asked:  


"whatever happened to Naugahyde?" 

I heard, some years ago, there was a serious push back by some people; who found the Farming, or Ranching of Naugahyde birds to be environmentally destructive and those who were farming the birds were shamed into allowing all their animals to go free and get eaten by foxes and coyotes.  🙂  

I also heard a California District Court found the Naugahyde's to be Sentient, much like the Emu and therefore couldn't be harvested anymore.  

There was also a third story, about a bird flu, ( SARS-N, I believe) that ravaged all the Naugahyde flocks and nearly destroyed all the Naugahyde bird population, so there aren't enough left to make a viable product anymore.

What?  No, I don't know any of it, i'm just saying what I've heard, kinda like most of the talking heads on the ..........  We're sorry this diatribe was getting too close to a truth that we aren't willing to admit yet.  __ Them  

Advanced Driver

Every new enthusiast car I’ve purchased (7 & counting, starting with my 2002 WRX up to my current Cayman GTS 4.0) has been custom-ordered (with manual tranny’s). Fighting the good fight! 🍺