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Cars That Could Have Been Great, But Missed
Although the Airflow had a significant influence on passenger car designs, and sparked awareness about aerodynamics, it flopped in the market place. As we know, its design was too far ahead of its time for the public. Would things have turned out differently if the Air Flow's advanced design had been introduced over two model generations, instead of all at once? Maybe. I think probably. With the new design language trickling down to Dodge and Plymouth by the second Airflow generation, that might have propelled Chrysler Corp. to overtake Ford Motor Co. in the late '30s and '40s. Actually, didn't Chrysler outsell Ford briefly anyway some time in the '30s or '40s? I seem to recall that it did, but don't remember which year(s).
As for the Vega, what's there to say that hasn't been said millions of time? The only thing that was arguably great about that car was the timing of its introduction. GM's reputation was only beginning to be tarnished, but it was still the world sales leader, by a wide, wide margin. The demand for small cars was growing, and would later explode with the oil embargoes. Detroit desperately needed good small cars to meet market share.
Beetle sales were soon to peak and wane when the '71 Vega was introduced (in Spring of '70?), while the other mass market European brands were a small and receding factor in the marketplace.. Toyota, Nissan and Honda had only recently begun to gain traction, but were no match for GM financially or in productive capacity, dealership count, consumer acceptance, and more. It could have been Detroit's great opportunity to drive the imports back to their shores. But, it wasn't meant to be.