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Will classic design save GM, Ford and Chrysler??

reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
edited March 2014 in Ford
Will classic design save GM, Ford and Chrysler?
Back to the future, its 1970's all over again.....

First was the retro cars that drew heavily on classics from the 60's and 70's then Ford gave us back the Mustang, now Chrysler is waking up and bringing us the designs that stirred us in the past and will bring buyers back, with style.

With an appearance that draws heavily from the classic muscle cars of the late 1960s and early '70s, the new Dodge Challenger, should satisfy those who thought the Dodge Charger just didn't have the right stuff. The new Dodge Charger was ripped by some because it was a four-door sedan, seemingly out-of-place in a car that carried the name of one of the most famous muscle car lines. As soon as images of the Charger were released to the public, letters of complaint started coming in.

This year, it came out that Chrysler was working on a two-door car, to be called the Challenger, based on the same engineering underpinnings, called the LX platform, as the Dodge Charger, Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300.

The Challenger concept however is based, specifically, on the 1970 Dodge Challenger. During development of the concept car they brought an actual 1970 Challenger into the studio,the car symbolizes the most passionate era of automotive design. Designers wanted to evoke a mind's-eye image of the car without the visual imperfections required by manufacturing technology of the time and they came out with a winner.

Ford has been losing sales the last few years but has come back with the hot selling Mustang with the classic lines. Chrysler has had some uneven performancer in sales but it has Daimler to lean on and seems to be going in the right direction with the return to the classic designs. With the sales doing well the Challenger should add some more excitement to its line up.

GM however, seems to have no clue as to what to do to stop the downward slide , cutting workers and closing factories as it restructures itself. Even with a classic 'Name' the GTO it seems to be failing, the classic lines are blurred or barely there, it has poor designs that are overpriced with no real distinctions between the brands.

Going back to the classic designs of the 60's and 70's has helped Ford and Chrysler, lets see if GM gets a clue and gives us some real classic styling that brings back the image of slick lines of beauty's from the past..

Then they may see the market share they are accustomed too as buyers come back to the sales floor....


  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    ...they use. I most certainly would love a Malibu that emulates a 1968-72 A-Body over what is now on the market. I most certainly love the new Mustang and the Challenger concept is awesome! I wish the Charger stayed truer to its roots.

    Trouble is, with retro style, where do you go from there? Will a 2006 Mustang that looks like a 1969 Mustang look like an updated version of 1970 model the next styling cycle? I sure hope it won't devolve into an update of the god-awful Mustang II of 1974-78!

    I also like the Imperial concept, but many have pointed out that it looks too much like a Phantom - a bad thing. It shows the stylists have no sense of originality. Harsher critics have compared it to China's current Red Flag limousine - a blatant copy of the Phantom.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    One of the first retromobiles was the VW Bug. It hasn't really changed since 1998. The PT Cruiser hasn't changed either. What do you do with these cars?

    Am I the only one that remembers that according to the car magazines, the '94 Mustang was supposed to bring back the styling feel of the first gen Mustangs? The interior had the same double bubble thing and the exterior was supposed to have similarities too. The new Mustang moves on to the 69-70 look, so I think we can safely say that the Mustang II would be the next logical (if suicidal) progression.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    Ewwww!!! I most certainly hope not. I also wouldn't care for a rehash of the Fox-based Mustangs. They'll have to come up with something totally new and different.

    You could also go even further back. Maybe a PT Cruiser that looks like a '37 Ford could look like a Model A Ford the next go around. Eventually, we could all end up driving one-cylinder two-seat runabouts will brass horns, gaslights, and steered via a tiller by 2050.
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    The VW Bug stirred up sales and brought in lookers and buyers, the PT Cruiser helped turn Chrysler around in the minds of many car buyers as it showed they still could come up with some nice designs and had some life left in them. The '94 Mustang pointed back to none of the classic years 64-70 but the new Mustang does and has that 'have to have' quality that is hard to define......
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    as you keep the retro styles fairly generic, then I think you can get away with it indefinitely, at least as long as that style happens to be in fashion and continues to sell well.

    For example, the PT Cruiser bears a resemblance to the way cars looked back in the late 30's and early 40's, but it's really not so different from a Ford Focus wagon or Toyota Matrix. And the '94-98 Mustang (I thought they did a much better job with the '99-04 though) did have retro touches thrown in, but it still looked like a modern car overall. With styles like these, it's no big deal to just design a new car and then add the retro touches. A good example here is the Dodge Ram, Dakota, and Durango. All three started taking on a retro look in the 90's, with their raised hood and lowered fenders. It's also called the big rig look, but it's also how most pickups looked up through the 50's. I think Ford was the first to come up with a flat-hooded pickup in '57.

    Anyway, all three have been redesigned, and still carry those retro touches, and have done it fairly successfully.

    Now I think where they fall into problems is when they try to mimic a specific car from a time gone by, like the current Mustang. I have a feeling that it is going to be a tough act to follow, because it just looks too much like the '69 style.

    And they don't have to go to the Mustang II style for the next generation...there's always those fat "Mary Tyler Moore" '71-73 models! :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I do remember when the '94 came out, they mentioned how it was trying to hark back to the 60's styles. I never fell for it though. However, I thought the '99 restyle hinted at it pretty nicely.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    I agree with andre. A general retro style works, but when you copy one car from the past you're drawing yourself into a corner. You'll have no design direction for your brand. You'll be seen as a car company for old timers. You'll limit your audience to people who probably already liked your brand.

    Retro models should be one-offs. No second generation.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993
    I believe Classic/Retro designs will help save the Big 3 as long as "new" fresh designs get mixed in along with the retro. The retro thing is cool. Some of you old timers are "wetting" yourself over the retro thing. I think it's neat because some of the old designs from the 50's and 60's are cool. GM, Ford, Chrysler, have this huge advantage of turning back the clock 40 or 50 years.

  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    Wow, that is right on the money, that is what the car buyers are looking for, some nice designs and some style and if they build it the buyers will come.......

  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    Chrysler seems to be learning this. They are letting to purely retro PT kind of wither on the vine, but the big trucks, that started more as a retro style than a total throwback look, have developed their look admirably. And, their newer designs might have some retro cues, but are styled in a modern fashion.

    I think they figured out with the PT that one model with hot sales for a year and then the inevitable decline is not a good way to achieve long term success. Maybe Ford will figure this out also. I doubt GM will get it until maybe five years after Ford and ten years after the imports.
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    Even the fat "Mary Tyler Moore" '71-73 Mustang models had more style than the '94 and they still had decent engines and interiors. If Ford did a Shelby it would be a winner or a Cobra along the size and lines of the Mazda Miata with a nice engine I would certainly pick one up. Clothes designers do it all the time, old is new and they recycle everything as 'the latest style', so going back for some style is just recycling/reinventing the classic lines........
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993
    I miss the FOX body Mustang. My dream car was my Aunts 25th Anniversary 7-up Emerald Green/White Leather Ford Mustang 5.0 convertible :D
    If ford would someday make a bigger Fox body stang in this color combo I'd buy one. Heck I'd buy a current one if it was available in that pretty color combo.

    Shelby GT500 7-up Mustang convertible :blush: would be a dream come true. Just wished they would bring back the legendary 5.0 V-8 with modernization like VVT etc ;)

  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    The 1994-98 Mustang body was designed to have "retro-inspired" design cues, but not be wholesale retro.

    That model has always looked to me to hark back to the original 1965s and 1966s. The 1999-2004 version has a decent amount of the 1969 model in it as well(including the big, fake hood scoop).

    But with the 2005, Ford went totally retro, mimicing mostly the 1968, but with a few 1967 Shelby design cues.

    I think the design strategy was partially motivated by a desire to go after the babyboomers one last time...they're just beginning to retire, and have the most disposable income they'll ever have + are still young enough to want a hot car. The '68 body is undeniably beautiful, and thanks to Steve McQueen is very well remembered by that demographic. Makes perfect sense to me.

    But after the babyboom generation grays, Ford will have a new market that doesn't have many meaningful memories of the classic replicating them won't sell the car.

    If Ford insists though, I'd bet it will likely retro the Fox-bodied Mustangs ('79-'93)...plenty of today's kids know those thanks to growing up during the years of its streetracer heyday...(or "Rollin' in my 5.0 with the rag top down so my hair can blow" as was said back then... :P )

    And re a modern 5.0 engine, Ford could well do it...the 3V 4.6 in the current Mustang has VVT... :)
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993
    Ok Vanilla-Ice,

    What you said is true. The Late 80's-93 Fox Body's were dream cars to my generation. The Rollin' in my 5.0 song, and Ice Ice Baby, just enhanced one to want a rag top Stang to smoke tires in. :shades:

  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993
    Comaro needs to be retro. I can just see a new I-Roc Z-28 but with 60's-90's style cues. ;)

  • Ford needs to make a car like the FLEX that it will be showing in Detroit. Even if not as a hybrid/diesel... .S173.A9813.html

    This is what foreign car buyers tend to like, futuristic stuff, or in rare cases, stuff like xB, etc.
  • snow tires, then rest of year all season tires, back and forth, extra costs. Got tired of that about 20 years ago.
  • I think it will help them, retro designs, but not to me, the spouse, my inlaws, either. They are 4wd/AWD these days, or nothing. We are FWD fans. Yes, I know,RWD= sports cars, etc..

    Father-in-law has a (now ruined) 67(think it is 67,or 66, and he installed seat belts himself back then, since they were not madatory yet in vehicles)Charger in his back yard, in weeds, rusting away( what was he thinking?).
    Some guy back in 87 saw it, when it was still salvageable(for less than 10K), and offered him 500 dollars cash to sell it.
    He refused.

    Seats are torn, rusting out body, interior is totally shot, and who knows about the engine. Been 18 years since it ran.
    What a waste of a great vehicle, IMHO.

    Anyhow... yeah, I like the retro dodges, etc, just wish they ahd AWD(for less than a million dollars), or FWD stuff(read that Dodge may consider a Neon -small car, not Caliber- the caliber and jeep compass: FWD or AWD....may be some hope yet for us?).
    Saw something, either on or about that small car/Neon replacement. :confuse:

    Anyhow.. it will work, people will buy.
  • nitromaxnitromax Posts: 641
    I believe Classic/Retro designs will help save the Big 3 as long as "new" fresh designs get mixed in along with the retro. The retro thing is cool. Some of you old timers are "wetting" yourself over the retro thing. I think it's neat because some of the old designs from the 50's and 60's are cool. GM, Ford, Chrysler, have this huge advantage of turning back the clock 40 or 50 years.

    I agree completely. After the late 70's and 80's, cars lost their style. The Mustang is doing well because it looks completely fresh to the younger generation and it appeals to the older generation because of it's history.

    I was behind a new GTO yesterday and I didn't realize it until staring at it for awhile. From the back it looks like every other car on the road. The only thing that peaked my interest was the three letters and the dual exhaust.

    I say the big three bring back some style from the late 50's and early 60's too.
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    Boy Nitro you are getting aggressive, "big three bring back some style from the late 50's and early 60's too."
    But yes, those cars were designed with a lot of curves and nice little details that made them desireable to a lot of people back then and I think it would work for todays cars.....
  • 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: 23,040
    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: 2,687
    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: 23,040
    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: 23,040
    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 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294 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.
This discussion has been closed.