Venerated designer Henrik Fisker has attached his name to a lot of cars. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Karma is the one, at present, for which he’s probably best remembered. Let’s see if it comes with an equally memorable price.
We tend to like sports sedans around here. Well, we seem to like their concept of them if not always their ultimate execution. That realization arose from the comments on yesterday’s 2014 Chevy SS. While that car was painted arrest-me red and offered a claimed 486 horsepower at its rear wheels—the correct wheels, by the way—its styling was panned for being what a few of you decried as a bloated Malibu. The horror!
A few of you also took issue with the seller putting more emphasis on flexing their garage skills than the actual car in several of the ad’s photos. Geez, that’s all pretty harsh. It’s also an obvious harbinger of what was thought about the car’s $29,500 price. Expectedly, that fell in a pretty substantial 70 percent Crack Pipe loss.
Hey, you know what? Let’s see what else that $29,500 price could buy. Maybe something prettier? In fact, for that very same amount, you could buy this 2012 Fisker Karma EcoChic. It’s all kinds of sexy looking, but what we still need to find out is whether or not you should.
Over the course of his career, Henrik Fisker has designed some seriously beautiful cars. Among those can be counted the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage, as well BMW’s Z8. He also did the OG X5, but that’s not so pretty.
That’s a lot to hang one’s hat on, but for Fisker, it was not enough. Instead of just designing other people’s cars, Henrik wanted to create his own. His earliest attempts were to offer coach-built bodies for the Mercedes SL55 AMG and BMW 645i, respectively the Tramonto and Latigo.
After that concern went belly up, Fisker kicked around offering tradesman design work, penning some early Tesla Model S designs and working for a small German startup called Artega Automobile on a Porsche Cayman-like sports car. Around the same time as that, Fisker entered into an agreement with an American company—Quantum Technologies—to design, and eventually lend his brand equity to a brand new luxury hybrid car.
The fruit of that effort was the Fisker Karma, a series hybrid featuring two 120kW electric motors juiced by a 20.1 lithium-ion battery pack and a 260-horse 2-litre Ecotec four-cylinder sourced from General Motors to drive a generator. The gas generator provides electrical power and recharging once the batteries had been depleted. BMW’s i3 with range extender works in a similar if less sexy fashion.
Fisker Automotive built and sold about 2,000 Karmas before serious issues with one of their two battery suppliers put an end to the dream. It should be noted that enough people believed in Fisker’s design and ethos that the company’s assets were bought out after its bankruptcy and the car was reborn and is currently offered as the Karma Revero.
This Karma EcoChic made it out of the factory before all that drama, however. This is what was then the top of the line with an interior made from natural materials that were all ‘animal-free.’ That means no leather, no ivory, no… well, you get the picture.
Instead, you get some very lovely looking Alcantara-like and cloth upholstery, as well as some wood and what look to be aura-aligning crystals but may, in fact, be actually the car’s switchgear. Many of the other interior bits—vents, steering wheel buttons, etc.—offer a fun game of ‘where’d that come from?’ on long drives or when sitting in traffic.
The parts bin elements are unsurprising on a startup, however, Fisker did hide most of the sourced bits. No off-the-shelf taillamps or doors shared with something else. That’s befitting the original MSRP, which was around $115,000. At the time, that was a little more than the fully electric and far roomier Tesla Model S.
In fact, the Karma is a really small car inside. The layout is strictly four passengers and those two couples will need to be pretty chummy. It’s comparable to the Aston Martin Rapide in its sense of claustrophobia, especially the back seat, but that’s the price you pay for so sexy a body.
Of course, sexy car designs have always been Fisker’s forte and the Karma is no exception. Lower than a politician’s standard of truth and longer than The Irishman, the only questionable aspect of the Karma’s design is perhaps the evil villain mustache that serves as its iconic grille. This one, in black over no-animals-were-hurt, looks to be in excellent kit. The black paint appears appropriately deep and shiny and all badging and trim are present and accounted for. There’s a solar panel on the roof. That provides the backup charge for the car’s 12-volt system and looks high-tech and in perfectly serviceable shape.
The tires look to have plenty of tread too. That’s a good thing since they are enormous 22-inch meats and are pretty pricey to replace. Upgraded Brembo brakes sit behind the factory alloys, although the ad notes that the factory clampers come along with the sale.
You also get a pair of keys, a clear title, and the sense of pride that you’re buying a bit of automotive history that coms with this modestly used—16,915 mile—Karma. The question, of course, is whether that’s all worth $29,500.
H/T To RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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Correction: This article originally misstated Fisker designed the BMW Z9. The Z9 was a concept car; Fisker designed the BMW Z8.