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Cars That Gained Or Lost Respect With Time

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
edited November 2010 in Chevrolet
I'd put the '57 Chevy in this category. It was popular when new, but I believe Ford outsold Chevy that year. Today there's considerably more interest in the '57 Chevy than the '57 Ford.

Conversely, Chevy outsold Ford during most of the 1930s, but for many years after WWII (and maybe even today) there was more demand for used Fords than Chevys of that decade.

Tucker, Edsel and DeLorean are examples of brands that gained a following, after they failed, that exceeded their popularity when they were new.
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Comments

  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,404
    When they were new, the 2-seaters sold poorly enough that Ford reinvented the line as a four-seater ( the square bird). The originals are now worth what? maybe 10 x as much as the 2nd generation?

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    edited November 2010
    Yes, that Renault outsold the VW Beetle in the U.S. in '59, becoming the top selling import. Unfortunately, it was a one year wonder, as poor quality, insufficient parts inventory, ill prepared dealer service departments, and American driving conditions and styles caused sales to go into a tailspin, beginning in '60. How may American collectors even remember the Dauphine today?

    Did Renault learn from its mistakes in the U.S. market? Just ask any former Renault Alliance, Encore (no more encores, please!) or Fuego.

    The Fuego, for those who may remember it, was a sporty coupe, showroom mate of the Alliance/Encore. One could argue that the Fuego was the spiritual sucessor to the Caravelle, which was a convertible top variant of the Dauphine. Confused? Who cares? Well, rest assured that you're not alone.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    Oh the irony. The Dauphine really was a better car than the VW in every single way but two---build quality & dealer service. It had more power, more comfort, was better looking, got way better fuel mileage, had 4 doors, was water-cooled (nice in winter), higher top speed, better handling. It was certainly better than anything Japanese at the time.

    Another problem was that the French insisted on retaining French management in the US. They just didn't "get it".

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    Yeah, in defense of the Dauphine, the attributes you listed mitigated the negatives, but the marketplace assigned more importance to the shortcomings. Too bad Renault didn't quickly address the Dauphine's deficiencies, but, as you said, management just didn't get it.

    The successors to the Dauphine that were sold in the U.S., the R-8 and R-10, in particular, were better, and more suited to the U.S. subcompact market of the '60s. Unfortunately for Renault, the Japanese improved their products more aggressively.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    The R-8 was a great little car, even rallyed successfully.

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  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,344
    was styled very well, excellent paint, exacting interior, smooth 4 speed, very easy to fasten cloth top, and the 1200 cc 4 cyl was barely adequate when accelerating.
    Just didn't drive it in the rain or let it sit out in the wet. A fun economical sporty. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    I remember trading cars for a day with a friend....my MGB for his Fiat 124. For me, it was like going from a stagecoach to a limousine. :P

    But the MGB was more reliable and a lot more torquey.

    "Crude, but effective".

    The MGB's stature has grown considerably over time, at least until the 1974/75 models, when something went terribly wrong.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    I don't remember those Dauphines as fondly as you do.

    I knew a guy who had one and it broke constantly and I do mean constantly. he replaced it with an old used VW that never caused any trouble.

    The Dauphine did have a cool two tone horn though!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    I wasn't talking about the reliability when comparing it to the VW. I was talking about comfort, handling, power, brakes, heat---where it was superior to the VW. Sorry if I didn't make that clear enough!

    I always thought highly of the VW bug until I actually bought a used one as a fixer/flipper, and used it every day for a few weeks. I was appalled. Couldn't wait to get rid of it. Talk about a death trap. I will say though that it had very good fit and finish for such a cheap car. Maybe I just needed to wear a big hat and drive 25 mph.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    Yeah, you made it clear enough. I guess I was just focused on the mechanical aspects.

    I've owned several VW bugs and a couple of busses and I totally agree with you.

    Looking back, I'm lucky I never got hit. They were well built and fairly rugged for what they were. Getting hit was a trip to the morgue. Thye flipped easily and a sudden side wind would throw you nto the next lane.

    The miserable heaters were a joke and if you happened to have an exhaust leak that came into the car along with the heat.

    But, they were cheap and simple to fix whan something did break.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    edited November 2010
    Fiat imported a competitor to the Bug and Dauphine around the mid '50s-early '60s. It was the 1100 and variants of that model. Although it never sold well, maybe, looking back, it offered a better balance of attributes and drawbacks than the German and French entries. Yeah, I know about Fiat's reputation, but I think that the 1100 and 1200 series were more reliable than the Fiats that came after. I think these were decent cars for their class, in their day. They cornered and steered well, and were more stable than their rear-engine competitors. They also had excellent brakes, were space efficient, delivered top fuel economy and had good heaters and defrosters. In terms of parts availability and trained mechanics in the U.S., they were more similar to the Renault than the VW. Overall, though, these models were quite good.

    My dad owned a couple of used 1100s during 3 month periods in Italy, and a friend had one in college in the U.S. All three gave good service and were reliable.

    Fiat also imported the 600, which was really a micro car, and unsuitable for the U.S. Millions were sold from '55 on, and they were good for Europe and the undeveloped world, in their day. Everyone knows about the 500, but I think the 600, which featured a water cooled 4 cylinder rather than an air cooled 2 cylinder, had more going for it.

    The Bug, Dauphine and !100 were fun to drive around town, but were really underpowered for U.S. highways. While they had their own drawbacks, the Rambler, Lark and Big 3 compacts were better suited for North America. And, let's not forget the Hudson Jet and Willys of the '50s. Their main problem was that for the same money, or very little more, you could get a full size Chevy, Ford or Plymouth. The Jet, especially, and the Willys 6 offered decent performance.

    The Henry J and Crosley were not worthy competitors, Nice try, though.

    What have I left out? There were several British small cars sold in the U.S. beginning in the late '40s through the '60s. The Morris Minor may have been the best of the lot, but I'm sure that Shifty and Isell are much more qualified to comment on these than I am.

    I've wandered from my main point, which was that, in my opinion, Fiat had a worthy competitor to the Bug and Dauphine. Has the 1100 gained respect with time? Ah, I'm afraid not, at least not in North America. Darn, nobody agrees with me!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    The American so-called compacts were pretty disappointing cars in their own right---they were still big, clumsy, pretty cheesy in build quality, and unless you ordered the balsa-wood model with one armrest, a column shifter, the smallest possible engine and a rear end ratio that made taking off from a stoplight a real challenge, you really weren't "competing" with foreign cars at all in terms of fuel mileage.

    You can tell that Americans hated them because within 5 years they were growing in size faster than teenagers.

    The only *real* import-fighter at heart was the Corvair. It was technically interesting, had 4 on the floor, bucket seats and probably the best drum brakes ever put on an American car.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    I know you may not agree with me on this, but the Valiants with Torqueflyte transmissions, even the ones with the original (1960) 170 c.i. Slant Six, performed decently. Taking off from a stoplight didn't light the rear tires, but taking off wasn't a challenge, either. Wasn't the manual transmission even better? No, in my opinion, because it was a 3-on-the-floor, with a horrible shift linkage. Probably even worse than that of the Dauphine, if you can imagine that. You'd think that Chrysler would have designed a decent 4-speed manual for its import fighter, but the bean counters apparently won out. The Valiant also held the road and handled well.

    My mother bought a new '60 Valiant, which was eventually handed down to me. I can vouch for the fact that its Slant Six and Torqueflyte were virtually indestructible. You're right that the fuel economy was no match for the smaller imports, but given the interior space of the car it was perfectly okay. Besides, what import was nearly as rugged.

    Any thoughts on how the Fiat 1100 sedan compared with the Bug and Dauphine?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,142
    what kind of fuel economy would an early 60's Valiant with the 170 get, I wonder? I had a '69 Dart GT with the 225, and it would have no trouble getting 22-23 mpg on the highway, 70-75 mph, and with the a/c cranked up. It also wasn't a bad performer, for something that only had around 110 net hp (145 gross). Consumer Reports tested a '67 Valiant with the 225 and a 2.94 axle, and they got 0-60 in around 13 seconds, which would give some intermediate cars with the base V-8 a run for their money. CR tended to be a little conservative with their times, compared to say, C&D or MT. Mopar switched the standard axle on the 225 to a 2.76:1 for 1968, and CR tested a Dart so equipped, and 0-60 was a bit slower, at 14.0 seconds. I remember it was still the quickest in that test though, where the other compacts were pulilng times of more like 15-17 seconds.

    I also thought Mopar's compact cars were pretty space-efficient for the time. The Dart sedan, which was on a 111" wheelbase, had more front and rear legroom than a full-sized Chevy Impala and other GM B-bodies! Just going from my own experience, my '68 and '69 Dart hardtops had more legroom up front than my '67 Catalina convertible and '69 Bonneville 4-door hardtop. The steering wheel position was a bit better for me on the big GM cars,though....and I didn't notice it when I was younger, but nowadays if I drive the Catalina for too long, it sets off the tendonitis in my left elbow.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    "what kind of fuel economy would an early 60's Valiant with the 170 get, I wonder?"

    Good question, to which I don't know the answer. Gas was so cheap back then that a couple of mpg one way or the other hardly mattered. I'd guess that the mileage of the '60-'62 Valiant was slightly better than you got with your '69 Dart. Why? Beginning in '68 they took the first steps to meet federal smog requirements, which, as you know, negatively impacted performance. I think mileage suffered slightly too. In addition, it's not far fetched to think that drivers stepped on the accelerator a little harder to compensate for the performance loss.

    I also recall that engines were more prone to sputter and die on cold stars, beginning in '68 (earlier in CA). When that happened, they had to be restarted. That used extra gas, although this probably wasn't reflected in the tests. Sometimes the engine had to be restarted more than once.

    Finally, the early Valiants had a shorter wheelbase than your '69 Dart, and were a little shorter, so they were probably a little lighter, even though the Dart was considered a light car. Maybe you have stats to support or disprove the comparative weights.

    Offsetting these negatives, I believe the 170s, at least the early ones, were geared lower than the 225s, which would have helped performance at the expense of gas mileage. I don't think this was enough to offset the negatives affecting the mileage comparisons, but I don't have numbers to support my perception.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    That would have been exceptionally high gas mileage for a slant six Andre, certainly beyond the norm. I have heard of people "super-tuning" them for economy and getting about 18, with some hypermilers getting 20 mpg. So you must have had the right combination of everything there.

    Certainly the Slant Six has gained respect over time, at least when associated with the Dart and Valiant compacts. It was a torquey engine, internally over-built, with up to 145 HP, and I think it outperformed any other compact 6 cylinder engine. They even used them successfully in the 1/2 ton pickups and vans, whereas a 6 in a Ford Econoline van was a miserable thing to behold.

    Only weaknesses I remember were cracking exhaust manifolds and numerous valve cover leaks. Over time, the timing chain would stretch, too.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    Part of the trouble was, Americans weren't used to quirky cars like Fiats and Renaults and even VW's that needed constant maintenance and tuning in order to run correctly. They also didn't know how to properly drive them.

    So, they bought a 1960 Falcon instead. If they stretched the oil change intervals it wasn't such a big deal and if they lugged them in third gear going up a hill, nothing much happened. Elmer at the corner gas station had no trouble working on them and elmer was quick to bad mouth "foreign cars".
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    In 1960, if you wanted a new american "compact" car, you had a choice between a Corvair, a Falcon or a Valiant. In my not so humble opinion, the Valiants were head and shoulders above the other two offerings.

    The Corvairs were better cars than history remembers them. Handling wasn't all that bad but tire pressures were critical. I had forgotten how well they stopped but that was a real plus. The engines weren't that bad but they sure could leak oil after not that many miles.

    The Falcons were underpowered "blah" cars that did improve over the years.

    The mighty slant six mated to a Torqueflight were just great little cars! They wore out front end parts but they seemed to last forever.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,142
    That would have been exceptionally high gas mileage for a slant six Andre, certainly beyond the norm. I have heard of people "super-tuning" them for economy and getting about 18, with some hypermilers getting 20 mpg. So you must have had the right combination of everything there.

    I heard the slant six got really bad with fuel economy once they started putting emission controls on it, but I always thought they were supposed to be fairly economical, at least perhaps up through 1972?

    A few years later, after that slant six was gone and I was driving my V-8 '68 Dart, I remember pulling into a gas station, and there was a guy with a '74 or so Valiant sedan filling up, and we started chatting. His was a slant six, and I mentioned that I had one a few years back, and really missed its fuel economy, as I could never get better than 17 mpg with the V-8. He replied that he'd LOVE to be able to get 17 mpg! :sick:

    How did the later Ford inline-6 compare? The one that I think came out in 1965, as a big-car engine, with a 240 CID displacement, and ultimately went to 250 CID and even 300 CID in trucks? I've heard that thing was basically to Ford what the slant six was to Mopar. I wonder if it was a beefier block too, since they were able to take its displacement to 300 CID?

    One thing that I've always found odd, with respect to fuel economy...I've had five Mopar smallblocks now...the V-8 Dart (still dunno if it was a 273 or 318 by the time I got it...originally a 273 car but it got a rebuilt engine about a year before I bought it, so i dunno), a 1979 Newport with a 318-2bbl, 1989 Gran Fury copcar with a 318-4bbl, and two 1979 New Yorkers with the 360-2bbl. The Dart was by far the smallest and lightest of all those cars, yet it got the worst highway fuel economy. 17 if I was lucky, although I think on one tank I almost hit 17.7. The Gran Fury would hit 20 mpg without too much trouble. The Newport would consistently hit 22-23. I've managed to hit 20-22 with the New Yorkers, but not consistently...usually it's around 18. As for axles, the Dart had a 2.76:1, Gran Fury had a 2.94:1, and the R-bodies all had the loafy 2.45:1
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    20 mpg was pretty much unheard of in American cars in the 1960s, and even if some cars could do it by extremes in design or driving, nobody really cared. At something like .25 cents a gallon, it simply was not a problem.

    I actually had a Valiant with a factory 4-speed. (1965 model??) It was the typically awful gearshift of those times. The transmission itself was fine, but getting it to work wasn't easy. It felt like it came out of an Army 6 X 6

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    Yeah, the linkage on those were horrible. They used nylon bushings that would wear out and a [non-permissible content removed] to replace.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    My favorite 60s compact was the 65-66 Corvair Spyder w/ 4 speed transmission. With some modifications, you could make this a really nice car to drive.

    Talk about a car that disappointed. You know, with ten years further development, GM could have made Corvair the "American Porsche".

    Americans seem to like foreign cars with rear engines, but never their own automakers.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    I think the 65-69 Corviars had a great design that still looks good today.

    I honestly think Ralph Nader killed the Corvair with his Unsafe at any Speed book.

    I always wondered why he didn't pick on Volkswagens instead? They had the same rear suspension as the Corvair and they sure as hell flipped a lot more often.

    The slightest side impact would automatically flip a VW on it's side.

    When a Corvair got hit by a sudden gust of wind, you could definatly feel it but it wouldn't put you in the next lane like a VW would.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,344
    ASAP I borrowed a "UniSyn" & balanced the two carbs on our Powerglide '60 Corvair. Inflated more air in the tires and it ran very well. :)

    A couple of years later, we chose the 63 Fiat Spider over the Karmin Ghia due to style.

    As the family doubled, the Corvair was replaced by the '67 390 4V Ford Country Sedan. Now that was the ticket taker. :)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,930
    Trivia..Comedian Ernie Kouvacs was killed while driving a Corvair Station Wagon.

    I always wondered why a guy of his means would be driving a Corvair?
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,534
    My favorite 60s compact was the 65-66 Corvair Spyder w/ 4 speed transmission

    For some reason, starting with the '65's, Chevy stopped using the name "Spyder" and began calling the car "Corsa". I like the sound of "Spyder" much better.

    Corsas could be had with either the 140 hp engine with four carbs, or the Turbo engine with 180 hp.
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 723
    edited November 2010
    His other car was a Rolls Royce or at least that's how the story goes.

    Growing up I had a neighbor who was successful, comfortable, and had a large collection of brass era antique cars. But his favorite "runabout" vehicle was a VW squareback like the one below. Nobody thought him eccentric unless he was putt-putting along route 8 in one of his antique cars-with no parade except for traffic backed up behind him!

    image
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    edited November 2010
    The real story is that Ernie drank like a fish and gambled like he had a date with the hangman.

    I don't think Nader killed the Corvair. GM killed the Corvair because they refused to fix it with a rear stabilizer for $15 bucks a car. Blaming a nerd like Nader while allowing GM off the hook seems patently unfair to me.

    It didn't help that GM hired private investigators to tail Nader and spy on him (which of course, was revealed to the public, as well as the denial of the $15 part).

    Basically GM made a car that required owners to actually pay attention to maintenance or die. This is not a good idea.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    It was probably a combination of factors that killed the Corvair, including the introduction of the Mustang.
  • I like fiat car. Its very nice.
This discussion has been closed.