By on July 27, 2012

Last week, I polled TTAC readers on essential reading related to the car industry. Since most of the books are old, and don’t merit a formal review, I figured that opening the floor to discussion would better serve the readers, and myself, with regards to thinking about the book and the lessons contained within.

The first book up for discussion is “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace”. Mary Walton’s look at the development of the DN101 Taurus was so revealing that it set a precedent for Ford – never again would a journalist be granted such in-depth access. Car is a look at the triumphs and heartbreaks that go into the half-decade it takes to develop a car. How the various facets of the company interact, the clash of ideas that exist between engineering and design, the way that everything most conform to internal budgetary requirements, government mandates and qualitative targets set by the engineers. It’s astonishing that vehicles even get developed, given all the hoops that must be jumped through by all parties involved.

Personally, it left an indellible impression on my notion of a car review; it’s easy to criticize a choice of seat fabric or a funky instrument panel on a test drive. Knowing that millions of dollars, hundreds of hours and endless arguments were waged over that component, by people with much more experience and education than I, makes me feel unworthy at best, incompetent at worst. Automotive journalism is briefly touched on towards the end of the book, as Walton delves into the absurdity of the press trip circuit and how writers are coddled.

Some takeaways

1) A successful new car can be just as much a product of timing and luck as it is effort and engineering. The DN101 was critically praised and designed expressly to beat the Camry, yet it was a sales flop. Given the long lead times for new cars and rapid shifts in market tastes, is there a way for car companies to hedge against this (see: Honda, which offered a decontented Civic, when high-content compact cars suddenly became the new thing in the industry).

2) The level of care and attention paid to the most minute components is humbling. The knobs and buttons on the Taurus’ instrument panel went through focus groups, committees and redesigns all before making it to production. We would laugh at their poor quality now.

3) All the focus groups and research clinics were enthusiastic about the styling of the Taurus; in the end, it proved to be the most controversial aspect with buyers.

Please feel free to bring up other points/criticisms in the discussion. The floor is turned over to you, the readers. I am reading these books as a means of building context. All contributions are welcome.

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49 Comments on “TTAC Book Club – Car: A Drama of the American Workplace...”


  • avatar
    relton

    One of the things I got from the book is that serious, capable and very smart people can make terrible mistakes when they only talk to themselves. The insular culture at Ford shines through all the meetings, discussions and decisions along the path of development for this car.

    Note that the Taurus shown in you photo, is one of the models that requires the removal of the entire fascia to replace a turn signal bulb. It’s clear to me that no on involved in the development of this car ever changed their own light bulb. I doubt that anyone involved ever owned a car more than 3 years old, fo that matter. So, with all the intelligence, hard work and so on, if there’s no awareness of the real world, 100 miles from Detroit, mistakes are bound to happen, and even some real failures.

    I was at Ford during this time, though not on the Taurus program, and I knew some of the people involved. I think Mary Walton created a pretty good picture of how failure happens in large organizations, even with the best of intentions.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      The book was most instructive re: the comparison between the Taurus and the Japanese competition – the chapter Dick Landgraff Takes a Ride explains fully that the Taurus would not be as good of a car as the ’92 Camry if only because Ford could not afford to build it. That overall realty trickled down into every minute detail re: the Car including those buttons and if they would have laser etching (like Camry) or printed ink (like in the previous Taurus).

  • avatar
    ott

    “The knobs and buttons on the Taurus’ instrument panel went through focus groups, committees and redesigns all before making it to production. We would laugh at their poor quality now.”

    True, but keep in mind that at that time the bar was way, way lower, across the board. Plus, Ford took a major chance on the overall design of the car, something which, sadly, backfired. I actually didn’t mind the Taurus, especially the SHO version.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      My family went from a 1994 Taurus to a 1997 Taurus. In 1997, the buttons and knobs in the new Taurus seemed like a quantum leap in terms of improvement, and felt quite upscale for the time. I was junior high age and HATED the ’94. I thought it was so boring and cheap. I personally liked the styling of the oval Taurus when it first came out, but I remember many people hating it right from the beginning. But it was indeed a huge leap in terms of interior quality.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      What’s funny, people talk badly about the quality of AMERICAN vehicles in the 90’s – pretty sure the build quality of most vehicles from the 90’s was garbage. Unless it were an Enzo or a Viper I can’t think of a vehicle I’d want to touch with a ten foot pole from the 90’s. I certainly wouldn’t want to DD one.

      Girlfriend’s 2000 Toyota Camry had as cheap, easily, an interior as the 1996 Tortoise I had years back.

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        Totally agree. And I think it was because GM’s quality was so horribly bad in the ’90s that the bad rep spread to all American car companies. Ford’s interiors in the ’90s were never as bad as GM’s. Neither were Chrysler’s.

        I remember hearing about the great hoopla of Japanese quality for years, then going for a ride in a family friend’s ’97 Camry. Was definitely not impressed by the quality. I think that the RELIABILITY of the Japanese brands in the ’90s caused people to also believe interior quality was better, when in reality Ford was quite competitive in this area through the ’90s.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        I had a 91 Accord EX for a couple years in the 90s. It had amazing build quality. The interior was very logically laid out, high quality materials, and the buttons and knobs were of high quality as well. The seats were very comfortable and upholstered in pretty high quality fabric.

        If I wouldn’t have been commuting in bumper to bumper traffic everyday, and the car hadn’t had been a 5 speed, I would have kept it much longer. It did have the retarded automatic seat belts though.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    The word “Taurus” implies “bull”, something “aggressive.” That car looked neither.

    Ford got the memo obviously. The current Taurus is beastly, and in a good way.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Yeah, it’s butt-ugly and too expensive. Ford screwed the pooch on this one. You hardly see any on the road except fleet cars.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        It’s moved into a different category, for better or worse. Probably worse — the large sedan market has collapsed — but Taurus manages to outsell Avalon by a factor of 2.

        The people who used to buy the Taurus largely buy the Fusion now.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    The combined radio/HVAC control panel in this car was heralded as a major advancement in ergonomic design (I was working on the design of the KW T2000 truck at the same time) and they had several experts working on it. The most-used controls were larger and placed closer to the driver.

    If you go back and look at how the Edsel was designed, focus-grouped and then similarly flopped, you will be amazed at the parallels between it and this generation of the Taurus. The Edsel had its own ergonomic design triumph of locating the pushbutton automatic transmission controls right in the center of the steering wheel (the center control pod was stationary).

    History simply repeats itself, when those who remembered the past mistakes have moved on, leaving the younger generation to make those same mistakes all over again . . .

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the Edsel was not focus-grouped. Years ago I made a trip to Michigan State to view the research conducted for the Edsel–it’s archived there–and found it far more limited than industry myths suggest.

      The Aztek was similarly blamed on focus groups. I was inside GM studying their product development organization at the time the Aztek was developed. It failed with focus groups.

      I re-read Walton, to see what she said about focus groups. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines on pp. 53-57 to see that focus groups didn’t love the new car. Instead, the designers knew what they wanted to do, and cherry-picked focus group comments to justify it. Many focus group members appear to have preferred the LH cars, but these people were disregarded as “conformists.”

      No car that looks as different from the norm as the 1996 Taurus did has been a product of focus groups.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “Note that the Taurus shown in you photo, is one of the models that requires the removal of the entire fascia to replace a turn signal bulb. It’s clear to me that no on involved in the development of this car ever changed their own light bulb.”

    +1 on that.
    Another plausible theory, is that in order to meet unrealistic cost targets, they decided to make the complete front end a single piece.

    • 0 avatar
      relton

      Lots of cars have 1 piece fascias. This problem was caused by styling insisting that there be no visible fasteners, and engineering insisting that there be a solid, uninterruped steel beam across the front of the car, right at the level of the lights. The beam was for torsional stiffness, not crash.

      Not once did anyone say, so I’m told, “Gee, how do we change the light bulbs?”

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I liked the oval Taurus with one exception, the trunk lid always had a real or perceived gap between it and the trunk. It conveyed an impression that the car didn’t fit together. I liked the interior of the car, especially the trick armrest/console. If they would have updated the engine and transmission as much as the exterior, the vehicle might have sold more.

  • avatar
    DownEaster

    Ford got too much into the oval theme with this car. My Dad had a 96 wagon for a while and the controls for the radio and climate control were confusing at first. All were located in the oval control pod in the middle of the car. My 97 Mercury Tracer had a similar set up. It also made it hard to change the radio with an aftermarket one. The 1986-1995 Taurus exterior was a much cleaner and classic design as compared to this one. Like the 1980s Audi 5000s. These cars remind me more of the 72 to 76 Grand Torinos that were too overstyled for their own good and had a similar sculpted body. I guess I like practical cars too much. Ford was daring with the 1986 Taurus and it paid off. The 1996 was daring but wasn’t as ground braking as the 1986. I guess they did well for sales and lasted till 2007. 11 years is a good run for a car. There are still plenty on the road.

  • avatar
    James2

    My dad had a ’96 wagon. I remember the interior being a drab sea of baby blue and a 3.8-liter V6 (I think) that moaned like a stabbed whale. The ’92 Taurus wagon he had before this one seemed better to me.

  • avatar
    sco

    “All the focus groups and research clinics were enthusiastic about the styling of the Taurus”
    I do wonder about the use of focus groups in the styling and design of cars. I tend to assume that the average american is far less capable than hoped, and that this goes double for cars. I doubt that the great designs from Pininfarina or Harley Earl were run through several focus groups. They sprung from the creative minds of a limited few who had enough taste and conviction to see what people really wanted (or should want), not what people said they thought they wanted.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Bingo. Apple doesn’t do focus groups either as it dilutes the “vision” of products design. In the end focus groups just result in a compromised product. For what its worth I took part in a focus group once and it was nothing but a butt-kissing contest, everyone kept telling the executives exactly what they want to hear – as long as the free drinks and snacks kept coming. It was like some of the people figured if they claimed how much they LOVED the product they would get take one home for free. Ummm no.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        JMII –

        Great points there. Focus groups are garbage. If auto manufacturers built cars based on focus groups we would all be driving sporty, all wheel drive, seven passenger SUV-lifted, 5 star crash tested alternative energy vehicles that got 50mpg.

        What a shock that vehicle doesn’t exist….

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        I can only imagine a sociologist with a Pell Grant would have a field day dissecting Focus Groups. Being placed in a close-knit peer group with an easily recognizable authority figure? Of course it’s gonna be ass-kiss-apalooza.

  • avatar
    skor

    I had a relative who worked a line job at Ford Mahwah Assembly back in the day….later he got a job at Ford Edison Assembly and had a heart attack while working on the line. Both Mahwah and Edison are gone now. You wanna talk about dysfunctional? When Mahwah Assembly was operating, it had the highest defect rate of any Ford plant in North America as well as the highest theft rate. Parts were stolen out of Mahwah Assembly by the train car load. Springsteen wrote a song about Mahwah Assembly, Johnny 99. Johnny 99 was later covered by none other than Johnny Cash.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      That got me thinking about an earlier Johnny Cash song about a worker on the Cadillac line who built a Caddy out of stolen parts (over many years) called “One Piece at a Time”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Piece_at_a_Time

      Funny tune, especially at the end when the worker describes the “year” of the car.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I had one of these right in 96 as a company car, ( one of my 6 turi I think all GL’s I think ) and who ever designed the arm rest , change holder. cd holder… should be shot, in theory it worked until you used it. To open it you blocked the ash tray that held the 12 volt which my cell phone and radar needed to be plugged into. They knew this was a fleet car who would design a arm rest like that? All of the sales people hated the new car and tried to keep the old ones as long as possible. The car ran ok but did seem cheaper than the 95 I swapped it for.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      The interference between the armrest and the ashtray was discovered too late in the design and testing process to be fixed with the 96 models, but was fixed later.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    Designers and engineers are hired for a reason. I don’t understand the obsession with focus groups. Just putting a group into that setting is going to change their perception of what they’re looking at.

    I’m looking forward to reading this book. It’s in the queue along with some others I bought after reading this initial story.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    This book should be required reading for everyone who follows TTAC. Very enjoyable read. I bought it on amazon a couple of months ago – received it on a Thursday and didn’t put it down until Monday morning it was that interesting.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Thanks to TTAC, I read “Car”. I loved it for the same reasons this article says. I never knew how every single part of a car is a decision based on tradeoffs – cost vs function vs sales appeal.- too often subject to politics, misjudgement or ignorance. I owned ’87 and ’93 Taurus’. They were good-looking, well made – except for pretty fragile transmissions – and were good on gas – over 30mpg hwy. Hated the oval Taurus and bought a series of more expensive Buick Regals. I loved the anecdotes in “Car” about how the Ford people figured the Camry V6 had about $1,000 more in quality parts, materials and content; how the Toyota engine was beautifully finished in places you couldn’t see short of a teardown and how many Lexus parts were in the car. Makes me appreciate how far Ford products have come in 20 years. Ironically, the same cost/tradeoffs that plagued the Taurus team then have forced Toyota to decontent their cars today.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Everything is a cost versus function versus sales trade, but at some point you need to have someone in the decision making process who understands that all that matters at the end of the day is whether the customer loves the product and whether the company can make money selling the product.

      If the customer loves it, they will become loyal and come back for more (Honda/Toyota/Lexus) – if they don’t love it, or are at most “meh” about it, they will go elsewhere. Here at TTAC we all know what it’s like to climb into the seat of the car we love versus the car that we have to put up with. That same emotion carries to all products. Why do millions buy Apple products? Because customers LOVE Apple products, from the packaging to the useability factor, they LOVE the product.

      You can make plenty of tradeoffs to increase profitability but at some point you are killing the emotion that ties people to your product.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        +1

        Pretty-much this.

        This is what Bob Lutz meant when he said something about, “If given a choice between defect-free but lacking delight, and delight with some squeaks and rattles the customer will choose the latter every time.”

        His only problem was saying that out-loud while working for GM, and the General is notorious for latching-onto any and every excuse it can to avoid chasing-down squeaks-and-rattles.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    I think the wife and I got one of the better ones. We have an ’04 Taurus wagon with the Duratec. 118K miles and no issues other than maintenance and yes, I replaced the rear COP’s when the spark plug change was due because I didn’t feel like pulling the intake again.

    The armrest in the ’04 is perfect with the floor console set up, by the way. Just the right height and it actually holds quite a bit even with the cd changer in there.

    I personally think that the wagons were built better. I see many a Taurus sedan roll into my shop and they just seem to have more problems-granted they are rolling with the Vulcan V6.

    Oh, the 2012’s… Someday, when the bull finally gives up.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      Wagons had heavier duty rear suspensions and frames, why they last longer.

      My brother and wife had a 2000 and got 120k miles out of it, in 7 years. Biggest problem was CEL that wouldnt go away, and endd up a crank position sensor, after replacing the ECM. Luckily under warranty. When CEL came back at 120K, it was sold off.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    In my memory from day 1 the styling of the 1996 gen of Taurus was criticized in the entire auto media , even those that claimed that mechanically it was much improved . Rightly , the excessive oval theme and hideous guppy front end were panned . And every Taurus owner of this generation that I knew wound up with premature auto transmission failure . That said , I agree with Punkybrewster above that the Taurus wagons seemed much better . Hated the oval tailgate window though which gave it one of the ugliest station wagon rear end styling of all time .

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I actually liked the design, but it was incredibly stupid of Ford to give such a polarizing look to their bread and butter sedan. The SHO model was a huge improvement in the looks department, that’s how the standard model should have looked from the get-go (minus the boomerang spoiler)

    I also agree that the car felt 10 times more upscale than the car it replaced.

    Ford’s mistake though was that they thought they could beat the Japanese with snazzier sheet metal. For something like a family sedan, consumers will go with boring styling if they feel the quality and resale is better (and it absolutely was with the Camry and Accord)

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    A friend bought the first year oval Taurus. During her first year or so of ownership it spent more time at the dealer than she got to drive it, or so it seemed. Transmission problems mostly. After two years she traded it for a Honda.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I worked for a Ford dealer in 1995, and we were thrilled to order and receive the first 1996 Tauruses and Sables. The radical styling departure, and the upgraded interior materials made them feel premium and special. I wanted one, but at 22 years old, it was still out of reach. Indeed, sales were so-so. Then just a few years later, as these cars aged, they notoriously lost the forward clutch piston in the transmission, the soft-touch dash material warped, and the styling began to look tired and cartoon-ish.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Some designs don’t age well, and this Taurus is one of them – once the headlights glaze over, the only bit of “bling” on the car disappears, and it starts to look like a half-used bar of soap.
      I would think that the tranny problems could have been accelerated by the small grille openings – maybe a set of gills (for cross-flow cooling) may have been in order.

      • 0 avatar
        ixim

        The tranny problems were well-known – my ’87 came with an extended 100K transmission warranty from Ford – it failed at 106K. Local shops rebuilt a zillion of them.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “…would not be as good of a car as the ’92 Camry if only because Ford could not afford to build it.”

    And Toyota couldn’t afford to either, so they made the 97 model easier to assemble. And, no they didnt cut quality, just perceptions to car enthusiasts. There are many still running after 15 years and still high resale.

    Regarding Focus Groups, people picked may be excited to be ‘previewing a new car’ that they may go ‘Wow, it looks so futuristic’ and sway the makers to think ‘We got it’.

    One reason Taurus sales slid was higher sticker prices. After a few years of huge rebates, buyers went ‘OMG’ at price and walked. Then, Ford had to bring out cheaper ‘G’ models. The press made a big stink about that, too. By the time of th 2000 refresh, it was ‘who cares?’

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I couldn’t disagree with you more emphatically, and it’s because my parents had a Camry of each generation.

      The XV20 Camry that was sold in the U.S. beginning in 1997 was a massive step backwards from the XV10 Camry, and nearly anyone who had any experience with both generations would undoubtedly agree. It was night and day.

      The XV10 was in reality essentially a Lexus in terms of attention to detail, material quality and assembly. The book that Derek speaks of lays out a lot of the incredible attention to the smallest details of even non-critical parts that literally shocked Ford engineers when they took apart the XV10, with many of these engineers concluding immediately that not only could they never hope to match it in terms of quality, but that there was no possible way that Toyota was NOT losing money on every Camry sold – and these were not inexpensive cars, with the V6 version that Ford acquired to break down costing about 27k in 1993 IIRC (and this was when the USD bought 128 yen, versus 79 yen today!).

      The XV20 was the beginning of significant cheapening of materials and production cost trumping quality as a primary driving force of Toyota’s business model, and marked a watershed moment for Toyota in terms of focusing on market share and profitability versus reputation for quality (although Toyota had built up such a huge reservoir of goodwill for quality that they got a bonus carryover effect).

      The XV20 wasn’t a bad car, nor was it an unreliable one. It still had a smooth, quiet ride (although not up to the levels of the XV10), and it still was a better ‘appliance’ for hassle free driving than most rivals, but it was clearly inferior to its predecessor.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        I’ve had extensive seat time in both the 3rd Gen Camry (we had one) and 4th Gen. Aside from lower half of the dashboard, and bottom half of the door panels being hard plastic (like pretty much all cars did at that point, and the plastic was durable) as opposed to all soft touch on the 3rd Gen, there is really no difference to me as far as interior quality. Many of the cost cutting measures taken on the 4th Gen were just advances in engineering and design and smarter thinking on Toyota’s part. Using 8 screws in a bumper as opposed to 16 (I don’t know the exact numbers, but it was something to that degree) doesn’t make the car inferior in quality, in many ways, it made the car more serviceable. Most non-enthusiasts, if placed back in 1997, would choose the newer, sleeker, smoother car that offers more content if given the choice between Gen 4 and Gen 3.

        Chicagoland is right, I still see tons of the Gen 4’s (and Gen 1, 2, and of course, 3) still running around, many still with their original owners and racking up the miles. You can say cars like the Gen 6 Camry took a noticeable decline from Toyota’s repuation (something they improved on with the Gen 7), but the Gen 4 was an excellent car for its day, and it wasn’t simply because the domestics were spewing out garbage in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      roadrabbit

      The main issue was that the 92 Camry was mostly developed before the Japanese ‘Bubble Economy’ burst in 1991. That was the end of the super high quality era of japanese cars. Toyota was also in the process of launching Lexus and knew that the 92 Camry would also be a Lexus (orig. ES300). They knew that Lexus had to overachieve where possible vs the German competitors. This would be quality and luxury rather than performance. Remember the gen I Lexus LS that caught everyone by surprise in terms of quality and price. In talking to the Japanese engineers for a competitor at the time, they were amazed at the product quality of the 92 Camry. While I doubt the model was as profitable as most that followed, I would be surprised if Toyota actually lost money on them.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Three points:

    1. I am of the belief that ‘design by committee’ is the worst way to develop any product. You need to have a lead designer and/or engineer who fully comprehends and has the support of management to see their vision through completely. Otherwise you end up with half-baked products.

    2. One of the advantages of the “one sausage, different length” school of engineering and production is that it allows you to amortize your costs across a much larger group of product and therefore allow you to get more nuanced with your product offering. In other words, you don’t need to toss the baby out with the bathwater every few years.

    3. MQB and MLB. The new VW/Audi production method where vehicles are based around “kits” is a significant move to combat the slow response time problem and to significantly speed new model introductions and refinements (PI). The MLP gave Audi the A4, A5, A5 Sportback, Allroad, Q5, A6, A7 and A8. I would argue that future evolutions of this platform will result in more frequent, subtle updates that keep the vehicles up-to-date without requiring a massive investment of time and money. It also gives manufacturers the ability to create a safe bread-and-butter model (A4) and then add on a niche model (A5 Sportback) that adds panache without risking the more conservative buyers’ wrath. Similarly it allows you to introduce an A7 to add more visual impact than the more pedestrian A6 and A8 models.

    A lot of design and engineering decisions need to be based on gut instinct rather than focus group and committee design. If you have good people with a good sense of direction and trends you will have a successful product. If you have people who are mired in the past and tradition you are going to get tradition and not evolution of your brand or product.

    Auto design and engineering is extraordinarily risky and costly. You need to have good processes, flexible engineering and above all – GOOD PEOPLE to make this happen. Not just good people but the RIGHT people have to be in place.

  • avatar
    j3studio

    “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace” and “All Corvettes Are Red” are an interesting point/counterpoint in mid-1990s American auto development.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    Arthur Hailey’s “Wheels” is a “fictionalized” account of automobile development at National Motors Corporation (FoMoCo), from 1971, not unlike “Car:…Workplace”, but, with sex, racial tension, motor sports, infidelity, and national politics thrown in as filler. I think the book was made into a TV mini series with Rock Hudson in the lead role.

  • avatar
    redav

    1) A company, like a sports team, that does all the little things right and leads the market will find they generate much of their own luck. Product timing often ends up being first to market gets the spoils, so the better & faster the development process, the better your timing will be. Also, having a clear vision means you will lead and dictate the market. Being the trendsetter means you won’t get stuck on the wrong end of changing market tastes.

    2) I don’t like decisions by committee, see #3 below. It often ends up that more work and people and time are needed to prevent the errors of committees. In many cases, if good & insightful standards can be defined, you just design to them and move on, and you know the end product will work. E.g., for radio controls, you can find out what size/shape/texture/location the volume knob needs to be to be pleasant & intuitive for the driver–then you just keep doing it.

    3) People make different decisions in groups than they do on their own. It is a phenomenon of groupthink–and one curious result of it is that as a group, people will make more extreme decisions than they would individually. I suspect that was in play with the ‘controversial’ styling (as well as the ‘blandness’ of Toyotas). I suspect the groupthink effect was present in the Ford committees as well as the focus groups.
    I can also see how such focus groups let the Vista-esque plague of MFT get unleashed on the world when there were so many things wrong with it. It may have been an incident of novelty and neatness leading to high focus group ratings, when individually such feelings wear off quickly.

  • avatar
    NewsLynne

    I ran my 92 sedan to 250,000 on the original transmission. Never had engine issues but the suspension/steering killed me. My brother had a dark green 96 and it was pure misery from the get-go.

    To me, Tauruses are mass-produced people movers it’s tough to get emotional about. Even after the restyle, you knew the car was going to be so bland. Some people like bland. That’s why Toyotas sell. But they are reliably bland, not a mechanical crapshoot like the Taurus.


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