Cars That Could Have Been Great, But Missed

14567810»

Comments

  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 15,792
    No doubt about the Fiero.

    One thing that always impressed me about the second-gen Corvair, was how roomy they were for a car that size.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536


    One thing that always impressed me about the second-gen Corvair, was how roomy they were for a car that size.

    I've always wondered about how the Corvair stacked up with regards to interior room. I've never sat in one, so I don't know from experience. I'd always presumed that they'd be smaller inside than a Dart/Valiant or Falcon, or Chevy II, simply because they're lower, swoopier, and focus more on styling than utility. The other cars I mentioned put more emphasis on the utility, and as a result are roomier, but less stylish.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 15,792
    edited February 2015
    What I always notice is the flat floor. When you got the base 500 model, with the automatic shifter on the dash, it seems to me it'd be better for six passengers than other, larger cars. I think the rear wheels look further back in the car, and it really isn't a long-hood/short-deck design like the Nova and Chevelle were by '68, anyway. I don't know what the wheelbase is. I can tell you, the '68-generation Chevy II was cramped in the back seat and center positions, anyway. Same with the Chevelle coupes that year.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536
    Yeah, I've been in a few X-bodies from the '68-79 spread, and don't find them to be particularly well suited to my frame. Too short on legroom, both front and rear. And on top of that, the whole cowl is too close for my comfort...steering wheel, dashboard, even the windshield! With the seat all the way back, I could touch the base of the windshield without even stretching my arm out all the way.

    Even the '75-79 Seville, for all its beauty, has these same issues. It's on about a 3" longer wheelbase than a regular Nova, but I think they put that all aft of the B-pillar, so the area from cowl to B-pillar is the same. I was disappointed when I finally got to sit in a Seville of that generation, because I'd always admired the cars, and went through a phase when I was younger, where I wanted one. I guess if I got one, to be really comfortable I'd have to sit in the back and have Betty White chauffer me around! :p

    Actually, I don't remember the '68-72 A-bodies being all that generous either, with regards to legroom. The last one I remember sitting in though, was a friend's sister's '72 Cutlass Supreme coupe, and that was ages ago. I remember it feeling tight on legroom compared to my '68 Dart, though. Even with the '73-77, I've noticed that, unless you get the power seat, legroom isn't really abundant up front. I think the main reason I get comfortable in my '76 LeMans is the power seat. A few years before it, I found another '76 LeMans, which was more beat-up, and a base model with a 250-6. It was a bit short on legroom, but it did have some pretty comfortable seats...high off the floor, good padding, decent size, etc.

    I think that's the main thing that made me gravitate towards Chrysler products...usually they would seem a bit roomier inside than their GM and Ford counterparts. Not always, but in most cases.
  • sdasda Member Posts: 6,764
    andre1969 said:

    Yeah, I've been in a few X-bodies from the '68-79 spread, and don't find them to be particularly well suited to my frame. Too short on legroom, both front and rear. And on top of that, the whole cowl is too close for my comfort...steering wheel, dashboard, even the windshield! With the seat all the way back, I could touch the base of the windshield without even stretching my arm out all the way.

    Even the '75-79 Seville, for all its beauty, has these same issues. It's on about a 3" longer wheelbase than a regular Nova, but I think they put that all aft of the B-pillar, so the area from cowl to B-pillar is the same. I was disappointed when I finally got to sit in a Seville of that generation, because I'd always admired the cars, and went through a phase when I was younger, where I wanted one. I guess if I got one, to be really comfortable I'd have to sit in the back and have Betty White chauffer me around! :p

    Actually, I don't remember the '68-72 A-bodies being all that generous either, with regards to legroom. The last one I remember sitting in though, was a friend's sister's '72 Cutlass Supreme coupe, and that was ages ago. I remember it feeling tight on legroom compared to my '68 Dart, though. Even with the '73-77, I've noticed that, unless you get the power seat, legroom isn't really abundant up front. I think the main reason I get comfortable in my '76 LeMans is the power seat. A few years before it, I found another '76 LeMans, which was more beat-up, and a base model with a 250-6. It was a bit short on legroom, but it did have some pretty comfortable seats...high off the floor, good padding, decent size, etc.

    I think that's the main thing that made me gravitate towards Chrysler products...usually they would seem a bit roomier inside than their GM and Ford counterparts. Not always, but in most cases.

    You're right, unless it was a 4 door with the longer 116" wheel base instead of 112", the back seat legroom was surprisingly tight. Headroom wasn't great either. Even as a kid I didn't care for riding in the back seat of my grandmother's 68 Cutlass S, yet mom's 72 Cutlass Supreme 4dr hardtop was considerably roomier.

    2018 VW Passat SE w/tech, 2016 Audi Q5 Premium Plus w/tech, 2006 Acura TL w/nav

  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,538
    Well, not great, but the original Scion xB was an amazing combination of tiny outside, huge inside. I looked forward to the new model, hoping for just enough extra size to handle modern safety equipment and a slightly larger engine. Instead we got a doughy tank.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The xA was a brilliant little car/hatch. 33 mpg and you could stuff an enormous amount into it, and it wasn't hideous like the xB. Same engine, but more agile, prettier and cheaper. Not as popular as the xB for some mysterious reason.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    I believe the reason the xB outsold the xA was that, although the xB cost a little more, it gave the impression of being significantly more car for a modest amount of extra money. In other words, the xB seemed like the better value of the two. Like you, though, I preferred the xA, and hoped they'd build a successor.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 15,792
    edited February 2015
    andre, you mentioned the '70's Seville. I recently saw an article in "Automobile" magazine about a blue '76 model. I never sat in one, yet alone rode in or drove one, but I sure like the overall styling and 'packaging' of those cars. I wouldn't necessarily say it's 'timeless', but it is one of those cars that I like every bit as much now as when I first saw one. I think there's not a negative styling feature on the car. I like the interior and the scaled-down look of the dash--similar to the big Caddy. I could enjoy owning one. They certainly did a far-better job of hiding its Nova heritage than Ford did differentiating the Versailles from the Granada.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Member Posts: 15,792
    edited February 2015
    Speaking of Scion--never been near them but the styling is a turn-off to me. But I always wonder why, when it's a Toyota product, Scion products often seem way down on the lists of owner satisfaction, Consumer Reports testing, etc.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536
    Whenever I think of an xA, I get a mental image of one in burgundy, being driven by an old lady who was forced to give up her Buick Century because she kept scraping the side of the garage door opening! They're small, cramped, kinda grubby looking, and you have the choice of squeezing in two people and cargo, or four people and no cargo, but you can't have both at once.

    The xB, on the other hand, just looks like a boxier version of a 1985 Chevy Astro. Not much bigger externally, but a LOT roomier in the back seat. And a useable cargo area behind the back seat, so you actually could get four people and some cargo in there. Or drop the back seat and really get some generous cargo room. Despite the Astro similarity, the xB also had a more youthful look about it, and lended itself well to customizing, with sound systems with big speakers and woofers and such.

    The xA fell into the same fate as cars like the Echo, Metro, Aspire, and so on. They're usually not that much cheaper than slightly larger compacts, and the difference in fuel economy is often negligible. With Toyota for instance, why get an xA (or an Echo), when a Corolla was larger, roomier, got similar fuel economy and performance, and didn't cost that much more. My uncle went through that exact same dilemma back in 2002. He was interested in an Echo, because he had a long commute to work. He wanted a total strippo model, but they were almost impossible to get...in fact, the dealer said that even if he special ordered it, the factory would probably refuse to build it! But then, by the time you got an Echo the way most of them were equipped...automatic, a/c, power steering/brakes etc, a Corolla wasn't all that much more.

    I guess if you're used to small cars, and live in an area where parking really is that tight, the xA's smaller size might come in handy, and you may notice the difference. But most parking spaces are made to a certain spec. If I can get my Ram into it, then the difference of ease between getting a Corolla or xA into it is going to be negligible. And, when you're used to bigger vehicles, once they get below about 180" or so, it's easy to just lump them all together as "small" cars. B)
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536

    andre, you mentioned the '70's Seville. I recently saw an article in "Automobile" magazine about a blue '76 model. I never sat in one, yet alone rode in or drove one, but I sure like the overall styling and 'packaging' of those cars. I wouldn't necessarily say it's 'timeless', but it is one of those cars that I like every bit as much now as when I first saw one. I think there's not a negative styling feature on the car. I like the interior and the scaled-down look of the dash--similar to the big Caddy. I could enjoy owning one. They certainly did a far-better job of hiding its Nova heritage than Ford did differentiating the Versailles from the Granada.

    Oh, I LOVE the looks of the Seville. I think they got the proportioning down perfect, and there's not a line out of place. My only beef is the driving position. And I agree...the Versailles really is a half-hearted attempt, in comparison. Actually, I think the Versailles is a very nice car...if you have no knowledge of the Granada and Monarch. But once you know what a rush-job it was, the illusion is pretty much shattered.

    I've never sat in a Versailles, and I don't think I've sat in a Granada since 1999 or 2000. When I still had my evening job delivering pizzas, the manager had a '78 or '79 sedan that he wanted to sell, and he let me drive it around the parking lot. I do remember that it was noticeably more cramped than the '89 Gran Fury I had at the time. That Gran Fury actually had a lot of legroom up front, but the steering wheel was a bit too close for comfort.

    I wonder how a Versailles would compare to a Seville, just on front seat comfort/room? All I can remember is that the Granada/Monarch/Versailles platform and the GM X-body platform felt smaller inside than the Mopar F/M (Volare/Aspen/Diplomat/Gran Fury/5th Ave) platform. But I can't remember how the GM and Ford compared to each other.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,538
    andre1969 said:

    Whenever I think of an xA, I get a mental image of one in burgundy, being driven by an old lady who was forced to give up her Buick Century because she kept scraping the side of the garage door opening! They're small, cramped, kinda grubby looking, and you have the choice of squeezing in two people and cargo, or four people and no cargo, but you can't have both at once.

    The xB, on the other hand, just looks like a boxier version of a 1985 Chevy Astro. Not much bigger externally, but a LOT roomier in the back seat. And a useable cargo area behind the back seat, so you actually could get four people and some cargo in there. Or drop the back seat and really get some generous cargo room. Despite the Astro similarity, the xB also had a more youthful look about it, and lended itself well to customizing, with sound systems with big speakers and woofers and such. B)

    The 1985 Astro was, in fact, one inspiration to the 1st gen xB's stylists. For some reason the Astro had a following in Japan around that time.

    I kind of like the 1st gen styling, boxy or not. And the headroom is amazing! I wish I could find a car at any price that had that headroom.
  • danfrommdanfromm Member Posts: 21

    When your car's shifter is worse than that on a WW II Army Jeep, you know you have a way to go.

    I've never driven a Jeep of any vintage, but my '66 Turbo Corsa Convertible's shifter was great. Short throws, knob positioned just right for me, very positive. You may have driven a dud, and its possible that Corsas got different shifters as well as different motors.

    Not in response to you and I think I've told this story already. Don Yenko, a Chevrolet dealer in Canonsburg, Pa, bought Corvair coupes in white from GM, made minor changes including much more powerful motors and sold the result as Yenko Stingers. On tight courses, e.g., Mid-Ohio, a well-driven Stinger would run away from a well-driven 911. I once asked Yenko what he did to the Corvair chassis to prepare it for racing. "Koni shocks, semi-metallic brake linings." They raced on stock springs, stock alignment. On faster courses where top speed was more valuable lousy aerodynamics held the Stingers back.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    edited February 2015
    The xA was a versatile, very reliable compact wagon/hatch that you could buy new for under $15000. Taller than a Mini, and a bit longer, with the back seats down you could stuff an enormous amount of material in there, including an entire mountain bike. Automakers are still copying the basic xA formula. A Toyota dealer can still get $8000 for a top notch 2006 xA---that's better than a 50% residual after 9 years! So somebody really likes 'em.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536
    I didn't realize the xA was bigger than the Mini. For some reason, the Mini looked bigger to me. Maybe it's because of that height...often a taller height will actually make a car look shorter, whereas lowness makes a car look longer.

    Who's really copying the xA, though? Cars that small really are a fringe market here in the US. If anything, I'd say it's just a continuation of some older models, like those Honda Civic and Nissan Stanza wagons with the raised roof...just on a smaller scale. I think Mitsubishi made something like that for a little while, too.

    BTW, I saw an xA on the way to work this morning. White. It had a sticker on the back that looked like a brass knuckle to me, but I think was supposed to be an animal paw print. It wasn't an old lady driving though...this one was a pretty young girl, looked to be in her mid 20's.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    edited February 2015
    The xA is a good city car, and I think that's the basic appeal. Small but not too small, cheap to operate, easy to park, and plenty of room inside.

    the Mini is a foot shorter in length and 5 inches shorter in height. Width is identical to the xA. So that's a lot of difference in interior volume.

    As for who copies the xA, well the Honda Fit dimensions are almost exactly the same, except 7 inches longer. Height and width almost identical. So yeah, stretch out an xA 7 inches, give it a little more svoopy-doopy, and give yourself a Fit. ;)
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536
    Yeah, but the Fit is another small, niche vehicle. Sales topped out back around 2009 or so at around 75,000 units. If anything, the Fit "fits" into that mold of "little tall wagon", along the lines of the old Honda Civic, even moreso than the xA.

    As for the Mini, I don't think it's supposed to be practical, anyway. It's supposed to be cute and sporty.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Mini was a hit right out of the box. BMW did a lot of things right and they found a niche in the "premium subcompact" market, where there really was no competition. The reliability was typically "iffy" German but they finally worked out a lot of the bugs. But by pushing the wheels out to the extremities of the car, and going a bit over the top on interior design, and putting in a potent supercharged engine, they produced a very clever and appealing car. It had FUN written all over it.

    An xA might look like a Mini, but it's not fun to drive, performance is middling, and there's not much that's luxurious about it.



  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited February 2015
    Good to hear - we don't get enough "I love my car, and it's running great" posts.

    Does the Abarth still live next door?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    My neighbor moved to a bigger house, but he still drives the Abarth.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Abarths are very cool but fully equipped with all the options, it can bust $32K !! If you want an Abarth with roll back roof, that's $26K.

    If they could put this package in a $20-$21K car, then this "miss" would be a hit I think.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600

    Abarths are very cool but fully equipped with all the options, it can bust $32K !! If you want an Abarth with roll back roof, that's $26K.

    If they could put this package in a $20-$21K car, then this "miss" would be a hit I think.

    It may be a case where it pays to buy a used Abarth since the used market is efficient at establishing proper values. If the manufacturer prices its cars too high, they depreciate quickly. .

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    That is very true! Many cars that "missed" might have succeeded had they been at their proper price point.

    The Cadillac XLR is a perfect example IMO. I mean, really, take a car that is meant to compete with Mercedes, then take a Corvette engine, drop it in there, but lower the HP, cheapen the interior, and sell it for $20,000 more than a Corvette. What a winning combination :'(
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 56,726
    Competing with the SL is a funny thing - nobody has been able to do it yet.

    Lexus tried it once, nobody outside of areas with many plastic surgeons fell for it. Top Gear named it a "worst car".

    GM tried twice. First, Allante - maybe now most connected with Kelly Bundy. Not a bad looking car, but unexciting powertrain and typical GM finishes. Then the XLR - even the V was barely more powerful than a standard SL, but with GM finishes and love it or hate it a design. Even today, with the current SL being less elegant and more of a bloated boulevardier than ever, nobody dares try to compete, as they won't win.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The problem is that competitors always try to copy the current generation of Mercedes SL, and then Mercedes puts out the new and vastly improved version to compete with the copycats. The XLR was supposed to be a 560SL I guess, but then the 500SL made it look like a cheap knock-off.

    Both Cadillac and Lexus forgot that Mercedes SLs actually perform--they aren't track cars but you can drive the hell out of them.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 56,726
    edited February 2015
    That's right. The Allante tried to compete with the R107 560SL - an aging car that was almost considered a modern classic then. Caddy introduced it in 1987 - but in 1990, MB had the R129 500SL, several degrees more modern (as the R107 dated back to 1971!). From there it was game over. For the XLR, I think potential SL buyers just didn't care, it might have lured buyers out of STS maybe.

    I notice both Lexus and Caddy are out of the cruiser market now.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    And wisely so. Not their forte. Leave the hi-po 4 seater luxury convertibles to the Germans.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited May 2015
    Here are some malaise era cars that could never have been great, and indeed weren't...

    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/7-hatchbacks-1980s-you-just-dont-see-anymore

    When was the last time you saw one of these failed attempts dogs?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 227,490

    Here are some malaise era cars that could never have been great, and indeed weren't...

    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/7-hatchbacks-1980s-you-just-demptsont-see-anymore

    When was the last time you saw one of these failed attempts dogs?

    Your link doesn't take us to the article.

    Edmunds Price Checker
    Edmunds Lease Calculator
    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536
    This link should work...

    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/7-hatchbacks-1980s-you-just-dont-see-anymore

    For some reason there are a few extra characters in the word "don't" in hpmctorque's link. I've seen that happen sometimes with long links, like there's a break there or something? Or some situations where a word with an apostrophe gets garbled.

  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 227,490
    andre1969 said:

    This link should work...

    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/7-hatchbacks-1980s-you-just-dont-see-anymore

    For some reason there are a few extra characters in the word "don't" in hpmctorque's link. I've seen that happen sometimes with long links, like there's a break there or something? Or some situations where a word with an apostrophe gets garbled.

    Thanks! Now, I feel lazy..

    Edmunds Price Checker
    Edmunds Lease Calculator
    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    That list of cars could take care of the entire automobile casting needs of a post-apocalypse action movie.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    andre1969 said:

    This link should work...

    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/7-hatchbacks-1980s-you-just-dont-see-anymore

    For some reason there are a few extra characters in the word "don't" in hpmctorque's link. I've seen that happen sometimes with long links, like there's a break there or something? Or some situations where a word with an apostrophe gets garbled.


    Thanks, andre.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    The Aztek is a candidate of the "could've been been great, but missed," but maybe there's still hope...

    http://autoweek.com/article/car-life/breaking-bad-making-azteks-desirable-2008
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited September 2015
    Guess I should watch Breaking Bad, now that ABQ is just up the road.

    Dodge Magnum Scores Highest with Millennials on Used Car Market, Says Edmunds.com

    The Aztek was #6 on the list.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Acura cars - the ILX, TLX and RLX - are a disappointment, in my opinion. They lack excitement and distinction. SUV's keep Acura in the hunt in the premium vehicle category,
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    The Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 are clearly misses. Will there be a next generation of these models?
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Good question - they need something to meet their fleet CAFE requirements.

    Maybe hybrids/EVs would take up the slack in that regard.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 56,726
    I think if it wasn't for CUVs, Acura wouldn't exist today. Those beaky cars really hurt it.

    Chrysler is lucky it has vans and the 300 (and trucks).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    and Jeep!
  • sdasda Member Posts: 6,764

    The Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 are clearly misses. Will there be a next generation of these models?

    I understand the Dart and 200 will not be continued after their scheduled product run. They are both attractive looking cars but have not been reviewed favorably and have had their share of reliability issues.

    2018 VW Passat SE w/tech, 2016 Audi Q5 Premium Plus w/tech, 2006 Acura TL w/nav

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,536
    The last time I had my Ram in for an oil change, I sat in a Chrysler 200 out of curiosity. It's a nice looking car IMO, both inside and out. But, for something that's trying to pass off as a midsized car, I think it falls very short. It was hard for me to get in the front seat, although once I was in, and I put the seat all the way back, and reclined it a bit, it was pretty comfortable. As for the back seat though...forget it. Headroom and legroom were both horrible for me, and it was also hard to get in and out of.

    I think a lot of that issue it they're taking what was originally a small car, an Alfa Romeo, and first they tried to massage it into a compact, the Dart, but then they tried to go up yet another size class, and peddle the 200 as a midsizer. If it had been designed from the ground up, it might have done better.

    But all that aside, I don't think the 200 scores all that great when it comes to acceleration or fuel economy, either.

    I remember sitting in a Dart a few years back, when it was first introduced. While not perfect, the design definitely works better as a compact than a midsize, IMO.

    I read somewhere that the main reason they're discontinuing the Dart/200 is that demand for the smaller crossovers, such as the Renegade and Cherokee, is very high. And those vehicles also get good economy, and have higher profit margins.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited July 2016
    I don't know whether any of these 1980s cars could have been great (the Alliance, maybe, if, IF, it had been reliable), but none of them were.

    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/ten-sedans-80s-you-just-dont-see-anymore
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 227,490

    I don't know whether any of these 1980s cars could have been great (the Alliance, maybe, if, IF, it had been reliable), but none of them were.

    http://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/ten-sedans-80s-you-just-dont-see-anymore

    The RWD Maxima was a nice car.

    Edmunds Price Checker
    Edmunds Lease Calculator
    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

Sign In or Register to comment.