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Will classic design save GM, Ford and Chrysler??



  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    I was talking about cars with a couple of non-car-guy friends.

    They say they prefer Japanese cars because they're kept up to date and fresh looking. Other than the Corvette, they said, every American car with noticeable styling looks older than it actually is. Sometimes a lot older.

    It seems to reinforce the "old tech" sentiment that domestics have to deal with. Among buyers like them, retro could turn out to actually be harmful. But that's only important if the domestics want to conquest import buyers...

    (They do like the look of the Kappa cars, Aura, and Fusion, but we've only seen those at an auto show as of now.)
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    is that aerodynamics and intricate little details just don't mix that well. There are only so many shapes you can come up with that have a low coefficient of drag.

    As for cars and losing their style, I think a lot of it has to do with what generation you're from. A lot of old timers will still carry on to this day about all those finned monsters that all looked alike in the late 50's, and reminisce about their 30's or 40's or whatever car...yet I have trouble telling most of those real old cars apart. Usually, if it was a longer car it was more upscale, I know that much, but usually I still have to read the badge.

    And in the late 70's and 80's, people were complaining about how the cars started looking too much alike, compared to the pre-downsized cars. Although truthfully, it wasn't just downsizing that made those cars look more and more alike, it was badge-engineering. Ford and Chrysler were actually more guilty of it than GM, but since GM is larger and has more divisions, they got blamed more for it. But as an example, the only difference between the 1989 Gran Fury I had and a 1989 Diplomat is the paint on the grille (black on a Dodge, gray on a Plymouth) and the taillight trim (oddly just the reverse, black on a Plymouth, gray on a Dodge) a few badges, and maybe the seat trim and the buckles on the seats.

    Ford and Chrysler started making cars where the basic sheetmetal and even interiors were the same, but just with easy-swap stuff like grille inserts, taillights, plastic trim, etc. For instance, if I had a 1980 Diplomat and smacked the front-end of it, I could make the front-end of a 1980 LeBaron work if I needed to (i.e., if I couldn't find a Diplomat in the junkyard). It would bolt right up to the fenders and the hood would line up. However, I did smash the header panel of my 1980 Malibu, and the only easy swap would have been from another Malibu. In this case, I found an '81 in the junkyard and bought the header panel and all the attached parts. However, the front-end of a 1980 LeMans, Cutlass, or Century would not have fit, unless I wanted to swap the hood and fenders as well. And even then, the creases on the fenders might not line up with the creases on the doors.

    But still, with Ford you'd usually only have a car cloned across two lines...Ford and Mercury. Lincolns were still usually pretty unique. And with Mopar, usually a style was shared between Plymouth and Dodge or Dodge and Chrysler, but usually not across all three. So even here, you usually only had a car cloned across two lines. But with GM, you'd end up with very similar cars with subtle differences, usually spread across 4 lines, and sometimes even 5, as with the J-car.
  • side door plastic body cladding, like on the 99 grand am ;)
    my Brother in law got a used Grand Am, and he is thrilled to get the cladding, too! :confuse:

    Seems a lot of people did not quite care for the cladding. Guy down the road needed a car, and he refuses to ever look at anything buy a Pontiac, so he got "stuck" with the "cool" Cladding, you know, like last generation had those odd lines-in-the- cladded doors,etc?

    As soon as he could about break even on trade in, he got rid of that Grand Am.

    One day I was outside, and could see his friends(actually, he is 2 doors down, could hear them) joking about the cladding, and "Tom" was irked, he did not look happy.
    6 months later, the car was gone, after he had it 3 years.

    His friend had an older Mustang(90's), and said maybe he should buy some cladding for his doors, to make it look more cool? :D

    That's bad. Poor "Tom".

    I am glad cladding came, and left, rapidly, and did not stick around for 10-15 years, on Mitsu, or Pontiac, etc.
    Hope it never makes a come back, either.\
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    Maybe you tuned out all of the years of nightmare Grand Ams, but they had since the first FWD in around 1984. It seems to me like it was the same for Grand Prixes, Bonnevilles, etc.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    The cladding definitely hit its low point (or high point if you like it) in the mid-1990s. I think it was when the Grand Am's spoiler developed those little fins... :surprise:

    I remember the early FWD Grand Ams (the boxy ones) actually looked okay and kinda unique for the time, and I recall that the first Grand Prixes were pretty smooth and aero-looking...
  • no, i did not really notice the FWD, because we are odd here, and liked the FWD. Had an 89 Grand Am as a rental for 10 days, and it was a nice car, for a family type of compact.

    I drove my mom's old 73 Impala, and 79 Regal, and my wife's first(used) car, from 85-87, a 77 Camaro. The cars were ok, all 3 RWD. just something about FWD for me.
    Maybe the not having 2 sets of pricey tires to mess with every 4-6 months?
    My in-laws grew up and drove RWD vehicles up to, nothing but 4wd! Can't talk them out of these things.
    Guess they feel safer.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    Grand Ams (well, okay, if you want to get technical, the '73-75 was the first-gen :P ) were good looking cars at the time, with their slick wedge profile, sharply sloping windshield, and upright backlite. These N-bodies were originally supposed to be the new Monte Carlo, Regal, Cutlass Supreme, and Grand Prix, back when fears of $3.00 per gallon gas were running rampant. That explains their formal styling, and especially if you look to the Buicks, there's a strong resemblance between the 1985 Regal and the 1985 Somerset Regal. Also, notice that in 1985 they only offered a coupe...the sedan didn't debut until the next year. They also had upscale, if fragile, interior appointments...much more cushy than the rental car specials that replaced them in the 90's.

    Once fuel prices dropped though, the decision was made to keep the Monte & company around a few more years (ultimately they were replaced by the W-body for 1988) and the N-bodies were instead marketed as an upscale compact, with their sights on the likes of the BMW 3-series, smaller Benzes, etc. They were GM's closest attempt at a yuppie car.

    The Grand Am did have a pretty nasty interior as I recall, with too much plastic for its own good, but the Somerset Regal and Calais seemed pretty nice inside.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    I can't remember the last time I put snow tires on a RWD car. Isn't the tire technology good enough these days that even on RWD models, snows really aren't that crucial?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120 1989 Cadillac Brougham never sees a winter. The last time I put snow tires on a RWD car was my 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis LS. They even had wide whitewalls!
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    But snow tires have advanced greatly too.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    when my Mom gave me her Malibu in January 1987 it had snow tires on it, and also had a pair of regular tires on their own rims that I put on in the spring. I always ran snow tires on that car out of's what my Mom did, grandparents did, etc, so I just did it too.

    When I got my '69 Dart and got rid of the Malibu, I got an extra pair of Dart rims and mounted the tires on that car. I think I used them on my '68, too. Finally though, I was going through a rough financial time in my life, and the regular tires on that Dart needed to be replaced. Instead of buying new tires, I just put the snows on it, even though it was the summer! :blush: I remember one of them blowing out during the summer of '95, at around 50 mph. My stupidity...the danged things WERE at least 8 years old by that time...Oops! :blush:

    Nowadays, the only vehicles of mine that see bad weather on a regular basis are my '00 Intrepid and '85 Silverado. All the others get put up for the winter.

    Are truck tires much different from passenger car tires? For having a light rear-end and being RWD, my Silverado's actually not bad in the snow and ice. I actually don't think it's any worse than the Intrepid, but that's probably just because I'm so used to it.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    People not going with snow tires as much anymore probably also has something to do with the fact that compared to back in the day when *every* car was RWD, now there are plenty of choices for your drive wheels, as well as plenty of vehicle choices on top of that...

    So whereas in the 1960s if you lived in the Northeast say, you'd have to put snow tires on your rwd station wagon when winter hit, these days you just buy an AWD minivan and be done with it... :confuse:
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    What is these things you call "snow tires", down here in Sunny Florida, we've never hear of such things, are they from the 'ice age'??........ ;)

    Remember not everyone lives in New York City or the rest of the frozen tundra up north, some of us actually like RWD sports cars (such as the new Mustang or the new Challenger soon to come) as we cruise South Beach drinking our margarita's with the funny little umbrellas. :shades:
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Hey, some of us live in those frozen tundra areas and still drive RWD sportscars! :)

    Anyone can drive a Mustang in the sunbelt...try doing it in a Chicago winter! Now THAT takes a certain amount of, um, er, "dedication"! ;)
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    and would do well:
    1960 Nash 2-Door Sedan (for the economy crowd)
    1961-2 Chevrolet Corvette (very nice design)
    1963-4 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (beautiful lines)
    1965 Ford 427 Cobra (nice look)
    1966-68 Ford Mustang Fastback (for Mustang lovers)
    1968 Mercury Cougar (bring some style to Mercury)
    1968 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport (best year)
    1969 Plymouth Road Runner (maybe name with emblem)
    1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport 396 (name/style cues)
    1969 Pontiac Firebird 2-Door Convertible (best year)
    1969 Pontiac GTO (the one and only Judge!)
    1970 Dodge Challenger (nice lines)

    These are the best of the sixties IMHO which they could bring back in updated design and get a lot of buyers....... :shades:
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Re the list

    Corvette - interesting to me that the Vette has constantly evolved its design over the years, and has yet to go retro. If it did, I could see it going 1963-ish...

    Mustang - the current one IS a 1966-68 design.

    Road Runner - I've wondered if in a year or two, Chrylser will offer a nose-coned/towelrack spoiler Charger Daytona Superbird as a real limited, "halo" kind of thing. Very few people will buy them, but they're cause a stir whereever they show up. :)

    GM - Odd that GM has yet to retro any of their classics. They certainly should...with the babyboomers about to retire, this is GM's last chance to mine that generation's nostalgia... :confuse:
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    I love the 63-64 Corvette's not so much the 65-66 as they have a slightly different look, cant put my finger on it...

    Current Mustang - seems to me the current one IS more of a 1969-70 design with the lights in the grill and some Shelby like extras. Maybe some of the MUSTANG afficionado's can help us....... :surprise:
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I think maybe a late '50s - early '60s Vette design might fare well. I love the quad headlight treatment, and could see it translating well today.

    As for the current Mustang, the body itself is mainly 1968 inspired, with the headlights (on the GT) and the quarter windows being pure 1967 Shelby (originally, anyway).

    Interestingly, both Shelby touches were originally Shelby's modifications of things that were less-than-successful on his orginal 1966 Shelby Mustangs. The 1966 had the inboard headlights together in the middle of the grill (DOT said nope, and anyway they blocked air to the radiator), and there were no quarter windows (buyers complained about the blind spots).

    The badging on trunk of the current gen Mustang is similar to the 1969's (a gear-like motiff) though. But yeah, there's not too much difference between the 1968s and the 1969s. Though the 1969s did sport a huge non-functional hood scoop and side scoops as standard, which is similar to the 2001-2004 models. :confuse:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    I'd say it most likely apes the 1969 with the front-end. The 70, while the same basic design, reverted back to single headlights, mounted fairly close together inside the grille, with two horizontal slashes outboard where the outer lights would've been on the '69.

    The roofline is more '64.5-68, though, although I don't think any Mustang ever had big triangular quarter windows in the back. All the ones I've seen had louvers. The '69-70 fastback was actually styled to look like a hardtop, although the little quarter windows didn't roll down..they just flipped out.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I believe the triangle quarter windows were Shelby-only in 1967...I'm not a fan myself, preferring my '02s smaller and right-up-against-the-side-windows style.

    Guy down the street has an '06 V6 Mustang with added louvers on the quarter windows. He also has the "Pony package" which gives one a good looking replica of the 1967 grill ("corraled" pony with horizontal bars connected to two smaller lights). Also has the shelby over-body striping though, which is a bit much for a V6 I think, but to each his own.

    I love the 1970 Mustang look, with the "missing" outboard lamps. :)
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