October 1, 2013

News & Features

Automakers' strollers get little ones rolling

New York Times News Service

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From left, strollers by Aston Martin, Jeep and BMW. (Photos via the manufacturers)

Let's make one thing clear: McLaren, the British maker of race cars and supercars like the new P1, is not the same company as Maclaren, the British manufacturer of premium baby strollers, known for its 1965 innovation of the folding umbrella model.

But there is an automotive connection at Maclaren: its BMW Buggy model, developed jointly with the German carmaker, even bears small windows in the shape of a BMW kidney grille on the canopy — the hood, if you will.

Baby strollers and carriages carrying the brand names of automakers are new territory for some of the companies that market to nameplate-conscious parents.

The brand marks on the Maclaren BMW model, under license from the automaker, are tasteful and discreet: There are BMW roundels on the hubcaps of the auto-style wheels and one on the buckle for the seat belt. The BMW stroller is part of a series of strollers called Objects of Design that have included models branded Burberry, Juicy Couture and Lacoste.

The original Maclaren, according to the company history, was designed for a grandchild by Owen Maclaren, an aeronautical engineer and test pilot who had designed the landing gear for the Spitfire fighter plane. The BMW Buggy was designed by Carolyn Komminsk, Maclaren's chief of design, and comes with a reclining seat and removable seat pad.

"I believe we've captured the enthusiasm of car, design and style enthusiasts," Komminsk says. "The audiences we are after, in addition to mothers, of course, are fathers. Our buggies have VIN numbers, like a car, so we can trace a unique part all the way back to its origin."

Accessories include an expandable foot muff, a park blanket, an umbrella and, of course, a cup holder. The BMW Buggy is available in black, silver and blue for $385.

Silver Cross, long a supplier of strollers to the royal family, is now producing an Aston Martin model. (Black-and-white film of the young Prince Charles shows him in a Silver Cross stroller.)

The Aston Martin Silver Cross Surf stroller — make that pram, British style — is built, like a Vanquish or Rapide, on an agile, athletic chassis of aluminum and magnesium. Inside is Aston-level Alcantara fabric and leather. The name Aston Martin is rendered on the push bar handle in gleaming metal letters so large no rival nanny passing by is likely to miss the association.

Aston Martin cars are favorites of Prince Charles and his son Prince William, the proud new father. William and his wife, Kate, were seen leaving their 2011 wedding in a 1969 Aston Martin DB6 MKII Volante, lent by Charles.

The shape of the wheels on the new pram echoes the twin-spoke configuration of the wheels on the Aston Martin One-77 supercar. That model, priced around $1.4 million, was limited to 77 deliveries; the pram is limited to 800. It is priced around $3,000 and is available through Harrods.

More affordable are Jeep-branded strollers, which come in many models and start at about $60. They can be found at Babies "R" Us and other stores or online at such sites as allthingsjeep.com. Strollers are part of the licensing of the brand's rugged, go-everywhere image.

Jeep strollers include the tough Jeep Liberty Limited Urban Terrain and the Jeep Liberty Sport X All-Terrain. Parents who want to keep in shape while spending time with the baby can try the Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller.

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