Cars That Could Have Been Great, But Missed

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    As always I respect and will defer to your judgement.

    Still, what a POS it is and knowing how much restoration shops charge per hour I just don't see it being feasable. chrome work is SO expensive and even mechanical parts and repair are through the roof.

    I have to assume that you are thinking the buyer would be able and capable of doing much of the work himself?

    I don't doubt for a minute it'll go over 10,000. If that 55 did, this one should for sure!

    I guess I'm living in the past.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well yeah it's a hobby car. Some guys are very good at 'garage restorations' at their home. I bet this car is going to be a gasser. This is a *very* popular mod for 50s wagons right now.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    You're probably right and in the case of this car, nothing would be lost.

    Not like taking sometime nice and turning it into a gasser.

    It'll be interesting to see what the high bid is.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    why don't you put it on your watch list and let us know how it does?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Will do!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited April 2011
    Chrysler introduced two all-new mid-size models for the '95 model year, named Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus. These were modern, smartly styled entries that followed the company's break with its K-car past, that began with its sleek new "cab-forward" '93 full-size cars. The Cirrus and Stratus designs had the makings of winners, but like the '93 full-sizers, they were plagued by poor quality. That's too bad, because they failed to stop the advance of their Japanese counterparts, the Camry, Accord and Altima.

    In a bid to leverage this platform further, Plymouth added the Breeze to its '96 model lineup.

    These cars sold in decent numbers in the '90s, but soon became popular in rental car fleets, selling mainly on price.

    Andre, your relative silence regarding the Cloud Cars suggests that, like me, your high hopes soon turned to disappointment
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,608
    I still remember when the Cirrus/Stratus came out, showing a Car and Driver article to a friend of mine, and the first thing out of his mouth was "looks like a ripoff of a Honda Accord. Which, looking back, there is some similarity to the '94-97 Accord.

    I don't think the early versions were nearly as bad as the early versions of the Intrepid/Concorde, but they definitely had their problems. I've heard that the Mitsubishi 2.5 V-6 was actually a fairly decent engine, and it wasn't as hard on the 4-speed automatic as the bigger engines were in the Intrepid and such. The 2.4 unit, though, dated back to the old 2.2/2.5 in the K-cars, and was pretty raspy and rough.

    Just like any Mopar from that era, the later year models were improved. But, also like most domestics in this class, the competition simply passed them by. I looked at a 2000 Stratus sedan the day I bought my Intrepid. It was the nicer ES model, with leather, sunroof, 2.5 V-6, power seat, and was priced about the same as my base Intrepid. I liked it, and definitely liked it a lot better than the Malibus that were also on the lot (Chevy/Dodge/Isuzu dealership), but I just wanted more car.

    I liked the first-gen Sebring convertible, too

    Unfortunately, for the 2001 redesign, I don't think they went far enough. I thought the styling was good, but the interiors seemed cheapened. I guess with Plymouth being phased out, they felt the need to cheapen the line to make it more attractive to rental car buyers.

    Back in 2003 when my Dad wanted a car, we checked out the Stratuses, and drove an SXT 2.5 4-cyl. I really WANTED to like that car. I actually found it to be fairly comfortable, and legroom was good. But it just felt too cheap and basic. And I'm pretty sure the engine was still traceable back to the old K-car 4-cyl. For having 140-150 hp or whatever, it just seemed weak. I remember Dad asking me what I thought of it and I said that honestly, I didn't like it, and he said he was glad! He didn't like it himself, but was going to trust my opinion, so I guess it was a relief for him when he found out that I didn't like it either.

    He ended up getting a used 2003 Regal ex-rental for something like $11K, and it was a lot more car for the money than those Stratuses, which I think were asking around $16-17K.

    Initially, I liked the fact that they started offering the 2.7 in these cars for 2001, but that was before the problems with sludging, and the sky-high repair bills were known. Supposedly the water pump and timing chain are problem areas as well.

    In retrospect, it's a shame that they didn't start offering the Mitsubishi 3.0 in these cars, like they did on the Stratus and Sebring coupes. I've heard it was a pretty decent engine (not to be confused with the older 3.0 from the 80's/90's that tended to burn oil)

    I remember checking out a 2001 or so Stratus coupe, which had a lot more Mitsubishi heritage, and thinking that it was a better effort overall than the sedans! The interior seemed higher quality, and overall the car just seemed more "expensive".
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    I remember the Breeze, with stickers instead of normal emblems. Nice!

    Early cloud cars are a rare sight anymore, very telling.

    I remember in 1999 when my mother was looking for a new car, she test drove a fairly loaded but 4cyl (I suspected an abandoned special order) Stratus. Seemed pretty raspy and loud. She bought yet another Taurus.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    I saw a Breeze on the road just a few days ago. It looked like it hadn't been washed in months.

    I remember a Chrysler marketing guy's comment around the time the Breeze was introduced, saying "we want to have fun with Plymouth." Don't know what he meant, but I remember thinking it's something one might say when he's desparate about the future of a brand. Come to think of it, the stickers correlate with that remark.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,608
    I think the Breeze was meant to be primarily for rental fleets and the ultra, ultra cheap. There was no V-6 option, only the Neon's 2.0 4-cyl, or the 2.4 from the other "cloud cars". BTW, the 2.0 wasn't offered in the Dodge or the Chrysler, so that shows just how bargain-basement they were taking the Breeze.

    The 2.0/4-speed automatic (hey, at least they didn't try to go ultra-cheap and throw the 3-speed automatic in there!) was rated 22/31, while the 2.4/4-speed auto was rated 21/30. They also had a 2.0/5-speed manual that was rated 26/37, which is pretty impressive for a midsize car! I imagine few were equipped that cheaply, though.

    Oh, and on fuel economy, that reminds me of another reason why I picked an Intrepid, over that Stratus I checked out. The Stratus with the 2.5 V-6 was rated 19/27, and only had something like 168 hp, while the Intrepid's 2.7 was rated at 20/29, and put out a class-leading 200 hp. The only way to get 200 hp from the Taurus was to get the optional Duratec 3.0, as the Vulcan only had something like 153 hp. And the Impala had a 3.4 with 180 hp standard, and you had to order the 3.8 to get to 200.

    Cars like the Bonneville and LeSabre had a standard 3.8 with 205 hp, but they were also a lot more expensive.

    Sometimes I wonder how things would have turned out if I had bought that 2000 Stratus ES back on November 6, 1999, rather than the Intrepid? I wonder if it would have been as reliable, and if I would have liked it as much, in the long run. I also drove a Dodge Ram that day, but the only Ram I could afford at the time was the 3.9 V-6 model, and, to be blunt, I thought it kinda sucked. :P
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Of the cars in the Intrepid' 2.7's price range, I think you made the best choice. From what I've heard, the 2.7's sludge problems were avoidable with proper maintenance. Your experience supported that this engine delivered good service when properly maintained.
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    If the 'Trep hadn't been wrecked, do you think you'd still have it?
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,608
    If the 'Trep hadn't been wrecked, do you think you'd still have it?

    Yeah, probably, although it would have around 164,000 miles on it by now (had 150K when wrecked, and I've put 14K on the Park Ave).

    The Trep actually saved me a bit on maintenance though, getting wrecked when it did. It was about due for a transmission service, which I tried to do roughly every 30,000 miles. Rear brake pads tended to last around 50,000 miles, so it was probably going to need them again soon. And, as preventive maintenance, I might have changed the battery by now.

    Now, if the engine or transmission had gone out in that car, I would have junked it, but both were still working fine, so I'm sure they still had a few good years left.
  • tomcatt630tomcatt630 Member Posts: 124
    Even as a kid I didn't know why they changed the looks on Riv/Toro for 1970 just for a year. Sales of the 70's tanked, and probably from the looks. OTOH, I have a car buddy who had a green 70 Riv and likes them for "uniqueness".

    Another odd look from GM for 1970 were the full sized Pontiacs, they looked alot less sporty than the 65-69 and the big grille was like an antique radiator.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,608
    I never did like the '70 Riviera, but can still tolerate the Toronado. At least with the Toro, it seems like they only botched the front, but with the Riv, they messed up the whole thing. Almost overnight, it seemed to go from sleek, sporty, tasteful, to an odd combination of old man's car and pimp-mobile. I think the one redeeming feature was that 1970 was the year the Riv hit its peak horsepower, before the decline.

    I think Pontiac was trying to apply Grand Prix styling to the big cars for 1970, and that retro style, or "neoclassic" as they called it back then, was starting to come into vogue. It worked on the '69-70 Grand Prix, but I think the result was a bit less tasteful on the big cars. They were just too wide to wear a grille that narrow and tall, and it left too much room on either side. And trying to fill it in by spacing the headlights out a bit, and making the fake horn ports, which gave it a "6-headlight" look, just didn't work.
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    I guess that explains the 1970 full-size Pontiac's weird look. They tried to make it a massive Grand Prix. I always thought the 1970 Riviera looked like a Skylark on steroids. The fender skirts were bad enough, but that vinyl sweepspear was really overkill.
  • ab348ab348 Member Posts: 18,935
    Actually, given a choice between the '69 and '70 big Pontiacs, I'd take the '70. I liked the attempt at pseudo-classic styling, and the '69 by comparison seems bland. I think the '70 looks better to my eye now than it did when it was new.

    There is nothing at all good I can say about the Riv for that year though. Dunno what they were thinking. At least on the '70 Toro you could order the GT option which gave it the most power it would ever have along with a dual-cutout rear bumper like the 4-4-2.

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  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    My Dad owned a 70 Toro GT. It was quite a beast. If you uncorked it at a stoplight, the front tires would go up in smoke. Turns out - this was his last Olds. One evening in 1977, he took the Toro downtown, and, came home with a new BMW 530i. The BMW dealer must have thought that he was nuts. He left the house dressed in a old sweatshirt, and, a pair of WWII vintage fatique pants. He'd just finished mowing thw grass, and, I guess he just decided to go swap cars. I didn't even know he had been looking at BMWs.

    Regards;
    Oldbearcat
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Member Posts: 4,116
    One evening in 1977, he took the Toro downtown, and, came home with a new BMW 530i.

    Yikes, so close. Its too bad he couldn't hold on a litte bit longer and go for a 528i instead.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah, he missed the Rhine River barge on that one. Oh well, what's a few cracked cylinder heads among friends?
  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    Would you believe Dad owned that BMW for 17 years, and, the head never cracked. Did a bunch of other bad things - including catching on fire twice.

    Regards:
    Oldbearcat
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,608
    One evening in 1977, he took the Toro downtown, and, came home with a new BMW 530i.

    That might seem like a drastic change in automotive choices, but I can see the rationale behind it. All you have to do is look at what the Toronado had turned into by 1977. Other than being big and heavy and FWD, it was nothing like the 1970.

    I'm sure the '70 could be quite a handful, and probably nothing you'd want to take through the slalom at high speed, but at least it was still powerful, fast in straight line, and imparted a youthful, sporty look. Sure, not too many young'uns bought them, but that's because they were expensive and out of reach.

    By 1977, the Toronado was even bigger and heavier, and powered by a slightly hopped-up Olds 403 that might have put out 190-200 hp (it put out 185 in most other applications). It was pimpy and bloated and cushy, and was doing its damndest to isolate the passengers from the world outside. And that youthful spirit was, for the most part, gone. Although that XS model with the wraparound rear window was pretty cool, but it wasn't enough to make up for everything else.

    Personally I like those big 70's Toronados, but if I wanted something that handled well and had some performance to it, it wouldn't be my first choice!
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    I think there was also a Toronado XSR that had retractable T-tops.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,608
    I think there was also a Toronado XSR that had retractable T-tops.

    That was in the works, and I think even made it into the brochures, but unfortunately the retractable T-tops were troublesome. I believe only one or two prototypes were built, but it never made it to mass production. Even the XS model was pretty rare. I believe only around 3,000 were built.
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    1977 Toronado XSR

    I heard this particular car now resides in Rockville, MD.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    He was way ahead of the curve buying a 5er in the 70s. Did he have another car afterwards (not sure of his age etc)?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well the failure rate on cracked heads for the 530i was only 10% (which is a LOT for a factory defect but still you have a 9 in 10 chance of dodging it).

    Also these cars suffer from horrible gas mileage (as low as 12 mpg) and pernicious rust issues in the wheel wells.
  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    You're right about the Toro's handling. Driving it on back country roads here in WV was miserable. It was so nose heavy that cornering with any enthusiasm was dangerous. It was a great interstate flyer though.

    Regards:
    Oldbearcat
  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    He keep working until age 85, and, actually bought three more cars after the BMW. He had his hips replaced, and, went looking for some really comfortable car seats. He switched over to big Chryslers. He bought a couple of the big long-nosed plush monsters, and, his final car was a Chrysler Concorde. Mom had me sell it after Dad passed away 4 years ago.

    Regards:
    Oldbearcat
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,645
    The last Seville was produced last week. Sad, I was amazed at the original, striking good looks and what seemed to be the real potential (never fully realized) to take on the Germans...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Cadillac did so many things right, and a couple of things really really wrong.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    I think the STS was mainly rental fodder for the past few years anyway. Who would buy one new? Good used deal though.

    For new, the prices weren't that low, and other than in the V, the mechanicals were nothing special. Combined with boring interiors, hard sell.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    Sounds like a character, early adopters are interesting. A 5er back then was a very left field choice.
  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    Fintail:

    Dad was a character to be sure. My mother also loved the BMW - she was a closet drag racer. She also loved to drive my Grandfather's 66 Olds Cutlass. It was an unassuming looking green 4 door, but, under the hood lurked a high performance 330 4 bbl rocket engine coupled to a 2 speed automatic. In a red light Grand Prix, few cars at the time could beat it.

    Regards:
    Oldbearcat
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    I'm assuming that 5er back then cost as much as maybe a nice loaded Olds or Buick, but probably less than a lowline Caddy. How things have changed, as now a 5er costs more than anything but the highest Caddy or Corvette.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,645
    I helped a friend's dad buy a 528i in '79, and I think it was around $15k. One reason they didn't cost as much relatively is the much lower level of options. But I'd buy that car today if I could find a clean one, great combination of performance (it was a manual), room, and quality.
  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    edited May 2011
    Correct. Dad indicated at the time that the BMW was the same price as a Olds 98 was. His BMW was loaded too - Leather, AC, automatic, sun roof, Blaupunt stereo, power everything, and alloy wheels. He even bought the emergency kit (Hoses, bulbs, extra sparkplugs, etc.) and the factory shop manuals with it. The BMW was a beautiful metalic bugundy red with black leather interior.

    Regards:
    Oldbearcat
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    If the BMW was so good, why didn't stay with that brand, instead of going back to domestic cars?
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Member Posts: 4,116
    If the BMW was so good, why didn't stay with that brand, instead of going back to domestic cars?

    I never understood this brand loyalty thing so much. I try to get the best car for me at the time I need a car, independent of who makes it.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    Really, maybe not such a bad deal nwhen looking at things. A nicely equipped (but not totally loaded) 5er today will be about 60K. So 4x more. Lots of things cost more than 4x today, not to mention the weakness of the dollar.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    Sounds like a lovely car. For someone who likes to drive, I can see how it would be tempting. 10 years later, the rest of the highline buying public would wake up to the same thing.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,013
    I think he mentioned his dad wanted something softer, as he was getting older. Not many soft BMWs, other than a loaded 7er, and that can be costly.

    I know I would absolutely hate my E55 if I was 80 years old, ride is too harsh.

    For brand loyalty, some cars tend to feel the same over the years, and some people simply like a brand and its heritage. That's how it is for me anyway.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Brand loyalty is pretty much an outdated concept for 95% of american consumers. They shop price, rebates, style. We as a people aren't very loyal to other aspects of our lives (employer, town, even our mates sometimes) so brand loyalty for cars doesn't make much sense in a highly mobile society IMO.

    Besides, you could argue that cars are now much closer in style and reliability than they've ever been in history.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    I don't think the manufacturer's really show much loyalty to the buyer after purchase either. Same goes for most dealers. As for brands, there are some I'll avoid, but I agree it doesn't usually make sense to just stick with one or two.
  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    It was a comfort issue. After Dad had his hips replaced, the BMW caused him discomfort when he drove it. That's why he switched over to the big Chryslers - he was comforable in them. The BMW sat in his garage mostly unused for a long time. Finally he decided to sell it outright - I think he got $3K for it.

    Regards:
    Oldbearcat
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited May 2011
    Yeah, personal needs change. Your dad's choice is understandable.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,645
    As a teenager I couldn't understand how the 50+ year old friend of my dad sold his 240Z to get a 'more comfortable' car. Now I do...
  • oldbearcatoldbearcat Member Posts: 197
    That's what happens when your favorite ride literally becomes a "pain in the butt" Those big Chryslers Dad started buying didn't appeal to me, but, the seats were like a big overstuffed couch.

    Regards:
    Oldbearcat
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited October 2011
    The Audi 5000 could arguably be the poster child for '80s cars that could have been great, but missed. It had the makings of a great car. Ground-breaking style and aerodynamics, and excellent driving dynamics made this a favorite for many, until the bogus unintended acceleration episode sunk this model, and almost ended sales of the entire brand in the U.S.

    Despite its strong attributes, though, the 5000 (and its refreshed and renamed successors, the 100 and 200), had significant counterbalacing negatives. Chief among these were that they were very high maintenance cars.
  • ab348ab348 Member Posts: 18,935
    My boss at the time bought a 5000 around '85 and it is exactly as you say. It was a real maintenance nightmare although how much of that was the dealer I dunno. After that he bought a BMW 635, so he was a glutton for punishment.

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