Don Birmingham was the Senior Development Engineer for the US branch of Ios, and he was concerned.
For the last 10 years, sales in the USA had steadily dropped, even after releasing three new models specifically aimed at what they thought were guaranteed market segments. People hadn’t disliked any of them, but most professional reviews had all pointed towards a certain ‘blandness’ that the models had in common, and how Ios had strayed from its original premise of interesting and desirable cars.
Suddenly the phone rang.
“Hello, this is Don Birmingham speaking”
“Oh hello Sir, how may I help you today Sir”
“Yes I understand, I am concerned with the numbers too Sir”
“Yes Sir, I agree. I think that the lack of a halo car in the market over here is definitely hurting sales. I did have a few ideas, but I haven’t run them past the board here yet”
“Oh really? Well, if that’s…Yes Sir, I understand Sir”
“Well I know that we have just released the Dragoon in Europe, and from what I understand we were considering it for the US market as well, but we lacked a suitable engine to compete over here.”
“The one for the Italian Navy project? Well I guess it might be suitable with some refit and modifications.”
“Yes, those numbers sound about right. I’d have to check the regulations, we haven’t really looked at entering ASCAR since we didn’t have anything close to meeting the requirements, but if both the car and the engine line up I’m pretty sure that our Competitions team will be able to work their magic on it.”
“Yes Sir, at once Sir. Thank you Sir, I’ll let them know straight away Sir.”
Don put the phone down and exhaled slowly. It wasn’t everyday that you received a phone call directly from the company owner. It was even less often that you got given a “pet project” and the authority to hand out up to 50% bonuses for people involved if it ends up a success. There was still a lot of work to do, as he hadn’t even seen the engine that was already on a boat from Europe, let alone figured out how to make the whole package work both commercially and competitively. If he could pull it off, however… He might just be a shoe in for that engineering position on the senior council!
The Team: Ios Competition Division
Name: Buddy O’Brien
Background: US born from Irish parents, Buddy started out racing motorbikes before being picked up by a spotter and moving into open-wheelers. Always praised for his determination, professionalism, and unstereotypical calm temperament, this will be his first foray into ASCAR.
Name: Ios Dragoon
Released in UK and Europe in January 1986, the Dragoon was the latest in Ios’ line-up of cars, and was a completely new model aimed at the sports coupe market. Refined but purposeful, it was aimed at people who wanted something more sporting than a Jaguar XKS, but more luxurious than a BMW M3. In 1987, Ios released a range-topping model named the Dragoon Americana, in which a 4L v8 was shoehorned in. In order to help raise awareness and desirability, a modified version was entered into ASCAR for the 1987 season. Ios didn’t have an engine in any of their cars that would suit the regulation, but took a risk by reengineering a 6.0L V8 marine engine for competition use.