By on September 12, 2012

In the now-infamous article on the Scion FR-S and the relentless hype campaign leading up to its launch, I invoked the Chevrolet Camaro as an example of how a new car can be praised as the Second Coming of Christ during its debut, only to have cooler heads prevailed down the line, when the novelty wears off and its flaws become apparent.

Thanks to reader and contributor Jeff Jablansky, I was able to dig up perhaps the most egregious example of this phenomenon.

For the true car snob, nothing is held in higher esteem than the British buff books. Even as sales of the American color mags declined, people would willingly shell out upwards of $12 for a copy of CAR, EVO or the print edition of Top Gear. Their ruthless criticism of certain cars (sometimes warranted, sometimes not), hyperbolic tales of driving derring-do and beautiful aesthetics lent them a credibility that no American publication could match.

How could one not love a publication that summed up Kia’s sub-par sub-compact offering with “Her name is Rio, and she’s crap“? Unfortunately, when it came time to review anything homegrown, no superlative was spared for even the most wretched garbage dredged up by the post-Thatcher automotive industrial complex.

The Jaguar X-Type, as we all know, was a less than stellar car. Despite being based off of a Ford Mondeo platform, they were as reliable as an old Mark II, and failed to offer grace, pace or space. And yet CAR magazine is effusive in its praise, even going so far as to state that “Even the Impreza WRX ought to be worried”.

That might be the only statement more ludicrous than Peter Robinson’s assertion that the Toyobaru is better than the Porsche Cayman. The Toyobaru is at least in the same league as the Cayman, as far as being a sports car goes. The only similarity between the X type and the WRX is that their monikers share the 24th letter of the alphabet.

 

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132 Comments on “QOTD: What Is The Biggest Case Of Misplaced Hype For A New Car?...”


  • avatar
    Skink

    Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      +1

      El Lutzbo promised, “50 miles EV, 50mpg, 600 miles range, nicely under $30K.”

      Now, I don’t recall what the “responsible” autmotive press might have said about the car prior to its introduction but the hybrid/EV bloggosphere went nuts and, in spite of subsequent discouraging noises from GM, continued to expect 50/50/600/<$30K almsot up to the day the car was delivered.

      And many still consider it a tremendous success, one that has trampled the Prius into the dust.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Leaf – I seem to remember the hype was no one would buy a Volt and we’d all be driving Leaf’s now due to the 100 mile range (whoops) and low low price. Even $99 leases aren’t helping.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I saw the day before I was going to leave for a week a $79 per month 24 month lease on the Leaf it was only $2500 down and included a $1000 dollar allowance for a charger. I likely would have got one for the wife to drive had the deal still been on when we returned home. It would have saved us far more than that $79 per month making it an essentially free car for her to drive. The only problem was that it would have to sit a number of days of the week due to the 12K per year allowance. Still using it the 1000 mi per month would have saved us more than enough money over the 2 years to recover the down payment and drive the car for free.

    • 0 avatar

      FRS/ BRZ

      I don’t even like small cars, but just seeing the ads forced me to go test them both.

      Thing is, after you see “200 horsepower” you pretty much already know what to expect.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Last time I checked what was discussed versus what was driven were to different things. Different strokes for different folks. I’m going with the charger/challenger. It’s fun & Retro and a waste of space. I love the idea but in a world of modern efficiency it was over hyped for plying nostalgia to a generation who only saw it from the idealistic rose-colored view.

      Course this is TTAC so cynicism and hatred for all things environmentally friendly rule the day.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Despite liking the SL, am forced to nominate Saturn which finally died as just another Opel.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Whoa! Hold on, having owned a ’97 Saturn SL and a ’08 Saturn Astra, I must tell you that there is absolutely no comparison. The Astra is a far superior car to the SL.

      I think you meant to nominate the Ion, which GM claimed would be better than any European small car. CarandDriver, MotorTrend and other car rags couldn’t stop talking about it until the day they finally got the keys to one. Total Open-Palm-Face-Slap.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Which one was Astra, was it the four door Opel hatch or the larger ‘nice’ sedan?

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        Actually the one that gave me almost terminal heartburn was the Vue. I know they got better but the 2002 was a string of costly repairs all prefaced by the mechanics statement that “this never happens”. Had to pull the bellhousing to replace the hyd clutch slave cylinder – $600. Do in my driveway for my Nissan truck. Some planning huh?

        My grandaughters ion had to have a new engine so I expect it’s what you are talking about. Saturn was all Opel when it died IIRC. Plant in Tn. long closed and so was the different way of doing business.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    “Unfortunately, when it came time to review anything homegrown, no superlative was spared for even the most wretched garbage dredged up by the post-Thatcher automotive industrial complex.”

    Replace “Thatcher” with “Obama” and history repeats itself.

  • avatar
    Watch Carefully

    How about the poor Pontiac (G8 was it?) that was hailed as a BMW Beater but then was killed off along with its historic brand name? I’ve heard that it delivered on most of the promises, but few people got a chance to actually purchase one.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, that really was a good car. I’m talking about cars that weren’t as good as promised.

      • 0 avatar
        RobAllen

        I still see the occasional G8 rolling around and have to do a double take. Those were good looking cars with a great sounding engine.

      • 0 avatar
        Watch Carefully

        Got it…re: the G8…the hype was wasted on a car that ceased production too early.

        I’d have to say the Cruze hype was overblown. No one I know (who owns one) is happy driving it a year or two later. That may just be a matter of poorly set expectations.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        Hard to imagine how a rebadged Daewoo cobbled together by the dregs of Lordstown OH could represent anything less than a fulfilling and rewarding ownership experience.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I think you mean the G6, an entirely different car than the G8.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        The G6′s hype was entirely imagined and then propogated by GM marketing. I don’t think the G6 got any particularly good reviews. I remember it losing in several comparison tests when it was new.

        The G8 was, from what I’ve heard (never drove one), mostly worth its pre-launch praise from the automotive press. There was at least some substance to back up its hype.

        I wouldn’t want to be the owner of one now, though. Depreciation and warranty track back to Liquidation Motors, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @KalapanaBlack

        …I wouldn’t want to be the owner of one now, though. Depreciation and warranty track back to Liquidation Motors, etc…

        Reality, meet perception, perception, meet reality.

        Here is the reality, good luck finding a 4 model year old G8 GXP for under $30K for starters. Think 25% depreciation in 4 years. GXP pricing just started going down in the last 12 months, this time last year they were commanding prices close to sticker, around $37K for a used model.

        Good luck finding a 4 year old G8 GT for under $20K for starters that isn’t salvage title or doesn’t have 100K miles on the odometer. That’s 33% depreciation in 4 years. Find a low miles example with say 20K to 30K on the odometer that is CPO, and be ready to pay $23K to $27K. Hint, these were selling for $27K back in 2009 new.

        As far as warranty coverage you have to be kidding me? I get mine serviced at the Cadillac dealer and if you haven’t been keeping up on current events, LS engine parts, Corvette rear ends and transmissions, etc. etc. are pretty easy to come by (not that I’ve had any of those issues). The bigger issue is if you bend the sheet metal. Body parts are extremely expensive and hard to come by. Lots of totaled G8s out there.

        The lowest price to date I’ve seen for a G8 that wasn’t salvage title is a 2008 base V6 model for $15K. That’s five model years old, and holding 55% of its value.

        But hey, if you think that the G8 is depreciation fodder there is a long line of folks with money in hand ready to buy a $10K clean non-salvage titled GT.

        I’ll take three please.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      But the die hard Muscle Car era gear heads were not about to pay the price for a new G8. Plus, they said it “had too many doors” and “didn’t look like the good old Pontiacs”.

  • avatar
    86er

    DMC-12.

    Good lord.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      Olders will have to decide if the DMC-12 beat the Edsel in the hype department.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Delorean? Twenty years from now, they’ll still be popular and bring a smile to people’s faces. BTTF plus John D’s style are still appealing hype, but everyone acknowledges it as such. The car itself is terrible.

      So I think if we only consider the hype about the car, you may be right. But the hype about the total product lives on and is well-placed.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        I agree with all your points; note that I was careful to say “DMC-12″ instead of just DeLorean, to try to (difficult as it may be) separate the man from the machine.

        However, the car itself was hyped beyond belief as something akin to the Second Coming of the Automobile.

        As a marketer extraordinaire, DeLorean himself was largely responsible for the hype and his reputation alone carried it as far as it did.

        Then DeLorean realized he couldn’t build the car for the price that the market would bear, and they received boat anchor Peugeot engines and the finances spun out of control.

        I also remain skeptical that DeLorean envisioned the DMC-12 as a niche car. Now it’s remembered like the Tucker. Something that promised to drastically move the needle but barely budged it.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      Bricklin SV-1. The DMC’s spiritual godfather.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      Ah yes, good one. John DeLorean promised Porsche performance for Chevy money. After a long delay, he delivered Chevy performance for Porsche money.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Sure, but DeLorean was far ahead of his time when it came to integrating new and innovative materials into the manufacture of his cars. I mean, did an ’80′s Porsche come standard with cocaine-inflated tires? I think not.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Mustang enjoyed a monopoly on the pony-car segment for seven years, yet Chevy was able to re-enter the game and pull right alongside it with a new and polarizing product. While the Camaro was indeed over-hyped prior to launch, it has at least been able to justify some of that hype with strong sales throughout its run.

    I’d argue the “novelty” of the Camaro has yet to wear off, as sales are steady and still slightly ahead of the Mustang for both August and 2012, and Chevy is continually improving it and releasing new trims to maintain its competitiveness.

    The Camaro is too successful to be mentioned in the same breath as low-volume X-Type and FR-S/BRZ. It’s hype wasn’t misplaced; only excessive.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The Camaro’s problem was that the intro was dragged out for too many years. The initial product was good, but needed improvement. And the General saw fit to provide the improvements in most areas. After driving one for a few days, some annoying things made themselves felt. The wheel, which was replaced with a much nicer one, blocks the view of the instruments. Chevy thoughtfully adds a heads up display to help counter this, but gaffs like this should never have made it into production. Some of the interior materials should be better quality as well. Yet assembly quality is very good, the drivetrain is without reproach, and it is unashamedly American in looks and swagger. The car sells well and it deserves to sell well.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    CAR was pretty much done and became irrelevant by the turn of the century, once all the old contributors were gone.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      When the new hands seemed to be out to prove how clever and witty the were by using phrases like “twist action,” things went downhill fast. Before that they got things very wrong on several occasions but always got away with it because the magazine was a good read.

      The Metro was hailed as the car to save the British industry. The first front wheel drive Escort was said to be brilliant to drive – before it was launched. Then there were the sport cars splashed on the cover that never made it into production.

      However, coming up with new ways to say how much torque an engine produced got old very fast and I stopped buying. And this was before the interwebs changed the game forever.

  • avatar

    The X-Type is a great example of the Brit motoring press’s blinders, but I’ve got another that was arguably even worse: The original Aston DB7. Not very fast, not very comfortable, the early examples would shed parts if you looked at them hard, exhaust note like a wheezing tractor… yet it was doused with truly epic levels of florid over-the-top praise from the usual Brit suspects, who insisted it was the best thing made since the original E-Type.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I don’t recall anyone saying the DB7 was a good _car_, per se (though I also don’t read the British car magazines, which I’ve never thought were nearly as good as they’re often perceived to be on this side of the pond). The DB7 was, and remains, gorgeous, but little else.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Citation.
    http://i.ebayimg.com/t/CAR-and-DRIVER-Magazine-May-1979-Chevy-Citation-X11-V-6-/00/s/MTYwMFgxMjY2/$%28KGrHqVHJDME90wT,HRiBPdwRUS-jw~~60_57.JPG
    http://i.ebayimg.com/t/MAY-1979-ROAD-TRACK-MAGAZINE-CHEVROLET-CITATION-X11-HONDA-ACCORD-/00/s/MTExMVg5Njc=/$%28KGrHqJHJBYE7%29zGs+Y+BP!m-3jD%28Q~~60_35.JPG

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      We have a winner. The automotive press desperately wanted the FWD X-cars to be the first coming of Jesus, and GM provided enough hyper-prepped ringers and kickbacks to make it happen.

      Then the production cars arrived.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        yeah, they duped me into buying one, never,ever read one of them god-damned BS magazines, nor bought a GM product again, don’t trust the Daewoo Cruze.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Now just imagine if the ringers were what the actual production cars were. And if they were as reliable as the better cars of the day? GM would have roared forward instead of planting the seeds of their demise.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Claw

        LMMFAO @ Volt 230.

        The Cruze is actually way better than anything that preceded it. It feels infinitely less cheap and crappy, even to drive. The only bummer is that it comes in only one body type.

        I understand the skepticism.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed – great suggestion. I still remember those magazine covers.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It is a nice touch that the Road & Track cover shows the Citation rendered the introduction of the 4-door Honda Accord to footnote status. When is the last time that a GM car outsold the Accord in the US?

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I have that copy of the magazine somewhere; buying my Subaru RS in 2000 kept me looking through (and occasionally buying) issues of CAR mentioning the turbo. I drove a manual x-type 2.5 when they came out on a whim and was underwhelmed by the clutch that felt much lighter and weaker than my Subaru (though to be honest after three years I was awfully comfortable with the action on my Subaru). Still, even at the end of the go-go 90s I couldn’t see spending more than $30,000 on a car and I was a bit disappointed the Subaru had been so close to twenty grand out the door.

    I suspect that their coverage of Phoenix-era MG/Rovers (I bet Cerberus took notes from them) may be even more hopeful, but having never driven let alone seen one I can’t be sure.

  • avatar
    relton

    I think the greatest hype for a crap car was the Vega. “The little car that does everything well”. Won every comparison test, Motor Trend Car of the Year, even had DeLorean pontificating about the wonders of the Vega.

    The only publication that wasn’t fooled was Consumers Report.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      That’s on my top ten list.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Great hot-rod material – the old man owned a Baldwin Motion Vega, loaned it to my grand-pa who pronounced it the devils own after driving i ,which made me laugh pretty good when I threw my dad the keys to the GT500 so he could make a run to the store, he pretty much said the same thing when he got back thinking that it was just another Mustang.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    The 2012 Camry, the 2007 Malibu, the 2008 Accord, the 2007 Saturn Aura, the 2010 Buick Lacrosse, the Lexus HS250h, every increasingly computerized BMW since the death of the E46 3-Series, the newly Americanized VW Passat…

    These are all cars that had massive amounts of hype and praise heaped on them, which I found based well outside of reality when I actually drove them.

    There are more, but I cannot comment on ones I haven’t driven.

  • avatar
    niky

    I suggest anyone who suggests the Volt look for the door and let the adults talk. Most people were skeptical about the car first, and only later test drives influenced them to think otherwise. A lot of the press were skeptical that the charge-depleting hybrid system was the way to go…. a lot still are. It’s genuinely a better car than the Prius, though it ought to be given its enormous price tag.

    The Solstice was a car that received a lot of hype, yet strangely failed to last beyond a single model cycle.

    The fawning over the X-Type wasn’t limited to the British rags, and honestly, it was sort of embarrasing. Everyone knew it was a Mondeo. even people who had never been in a Mondeo. Still, at least it looked good.

    I’d say the love the Brera gets for its “style” is almost as ludicrous, but nobody cares about the Brera in the US. There’s an example of how not to adapt the styling of a rear-wheel drive concept to a fat, dumpy front-wheel based production vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      I, too, find the Brera lacking. In fact, I’d term the whole range of new Alfas lacking in the “passionate style” department.

      Hand me a 156 or Mk. 2 166 over a 159 any day. The new front end just doesn’t do it for me. I think it’s the exposed-element headlamps.

      The GTV had leagues more style than the horridly awkward-for-awkward’s-sake Brera. As did the non-hatchback GT.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The GT was near-perfect. The Brera is almost a case of Hannibal Lecter-esque face-stealing. Like someone in the design department applied a morph mask to the concept and called it a day.

        Ah well… It’s not like Italian companies are averse to outrageously awkward design, but for something that looked so good on the carshow floors…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I feel that the Solstice lived up to every bit of hype that has ever been praised on it. Ask any SCCA racer.

      It was unfortunately a lower volume car, built in an old endangered factory at a time when it’s parent company couldn’t pay its bills. A casualty if you will.

      It certainly wasn’t any fault of the car for not staying on the market longer.

    • 0 avatar
      Skink

      Once you go to the ad hominem, it’s apparent you’ve lost the argument already. The people have voted on the Volt by not buying it. It’s too expensive, and it’s as ugly as anything Chevy’s designers scribbled in the 80s. A real disappointment compared to the concept.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The Volt certainly received a lot of hype, but not from the motoring media. In fact, the anti-hype surrounding the Volt is sometimes blindingly, bizarrely intense. I’ve written more than a few critical pieces about the Volt in my time, but some of the hate for it is just… outlandish… and seems to ignore the fact that this was a product that started development before the Dems, that was always going be a low-volume halo car and that was always going to be an EV1-level expense and risk.

        Yet beneath all the political mud that’s flung its way, it’s actually a decent car. Just around $10,000 to expensive.

        If you want a “green” car that’s undeserving of the incredible amount of hype and hyperbole surrounding it, may I suggest Tesla?

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Yeah… gonna agree with you on Tesla niky.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    Showing my age here: how about Edsel? Not just one model, but several; a new division as well as a new car; a new dealer network (though I guess most if not all were Ford dealers, so not necessarily greenfield-new); and all these were shut down after the flop. I know it is a complex story and not just purely hype-meets-reality, but I’ll nominate it anyway. Wikipedia, citing the book “Ford: An American Family,” says that in today’s dollars it was a $2.5 billion loss to Ford.

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    We actually had an X-Type back in the day, first year model, 2002 2.5l V6 AWD. Bought it with 20000 miles on it, eventually sold it to the in-laws, they had it until 90000 miles and then traded it on something else. Started every time, never had one breakdown, it only required the normal maintenance, had a great warranty (that was never needed) and was a fine car. Comparing its reliability to an old Jag is not really accurate. It was more reliable than the Audis and Volvos I owned during the same timeframe. It was definitely more reliable than the 2006 Honda Odyssey in our garage right now…Over time its biggest problem is the depreciation that allowed people to buy them for cheap and then couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the maintenance once the free period was up. It is not a Toyota.

    On top of everything else it was offered (in Europe at least) as an AWD Diesel Wagon with a stick and I think Brown may have been a color option as well. Pretty much the holy grail, no?

    It got a lot of crap, mostly undeserved. It sure rode, drove, and looked nicer inside than the WRX you mentioned, that’s for sure. Derek, have you ever driven one (that was in good shape and not a 10year-old beater?). It’s not the most exciting car but was certainly capable in locations ranging from below freezing in Lake Tahoe snow and ice to 125 degrees in Las Vegas during their hottest day of the year a half-decade ago.

    The wife still raves about the dealer service during normal maintenance visits. Definitely a cut above the norm at the time.

    You know what’s over-hyped in the US media? Anytime a new Wrangler or Corvette is released it is considered fantastic UNTIL the next new version is released, then inevitably the older model is described as “full of creaks and groans” and considered seriously sub-par. Pick up any buffbook going back at least 25 years and read the current review vs. the older then-current review. They read the same and have the same criticisms of the previous model (upon which praise was heaped at its release)

  • avatar
    igve2shtz

    Lincoln LS (Refered to as Lincoln LS6 and LS8 prior to production). I have the article at home somewhere, but I remember the article saying how the car was designed to out accelerate, out brake, out handle, ride better and have more luxury than a 5-series. All the magazines loved the car until it was finally produced and then cried it was cheap and unfulling.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Likewise for the Ford Thunderbird 2-seater produced at the same time as the Lincoln LS. Raved about when still a show car headed for production, but when it came out it was overpriced, mechanically undistinguished, and had exactly the same radiating-cheapness dashboard that the LS was saddled with.

      (It wasn’t the first time Ford failed to realize the importance of a well-designed dash, despite how many hundreds or thousands of hours an owner will be looking at it; a good example was the early-1990s Thunderbird/Cougar, which did receive a new modern-looking dash within a few model years.)

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        The LS had great potential but Ford didn’t really seem all that enthusiastic by the time it came out and then never seemed to do anything with it through its life cycle.

      • 0 avatar
        Sylvilagus Aquaticus

        When the reborn Thunderbird two seater hit the Dallas car show, Ford brought along the tarted up styling buck of the Forty-Niner. Nothing to speak of inside for an interior or even seats, mind you- just the coupe body on wheels. You’d have thought people had never encountered a wheeled vehicle before from the crowd around it. They’d placed it next to the turntable with the new ‘Bird and almost nobody paid any attention to it, even though it was weeks from release. My family had a long history with T-birds; 55-56,58,66,70,76,79,and 83, but the last one was a conundrum.

        My first car was a ’49 Ford Tudor; if Ford had gone ahead with the Forty-Niner, I’d sure as hell buy one. I think lots of people would, judging from the interest over a clay model of it. Instead, I guess we got the Ford 500 and the Edge.

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    +12 Dozen on the Vega.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Pontiac Fiero.

    • 0 avatar
      Watch Carefully

      I remember thinking that the 1st Gen. Fiero would be a decent investment because it would be fun to drive now and again and would be a forgotten Cult Classic a handful of years later. I was sure Pontiac would make them for a year or two, sales would falter, and they’d be available at clearance prices just before production shut down. Simply amazing that they sold so many and it went to a 2nd Gen.

      Who actually owned one…did it live up to the promotion?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      blame GM for that one. they refused to let anything breathe near its precious “halo” car for as much performance was concerned.

      I’ve always argued that those who want a Corvette, will buy a Corvette. Once you get to that stage of sports car, performance matters little.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    Also, what about the reverse question? What car has turned out to be the biggest winner, relative to lowest expectations? The original Mustang might be a nonminee; Miata; original 240Z… This is probably a harder question to answer because of the “divide by zero” problem: if expectations for a new car are zip, almost any success is very striking.

    And another version: what car is most missed by enthusiasts? That is, killed off even though still beloved, still “hyped”? I know a few gearheads who would kill for a late-model Supra (to crank up). The latest version of the Pontiac GTO? Original Civic VTEC? Not to mention the original EV-1, which had a whole movie made about its (untimely?) death?

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Biggest winner despite expectations? I’d put a vote in for the WRX. Subaru sat on it for a whole generation before selling it in the US.

      For the car most missed? I’ll pick the 91-94 Sentra SE-R.

  • avatar
    redliner

    “And here is the ALL NEW, ASTON MARTIN LAGONDA! YAY!”

    *crickets*

    (I do love how insane that car is though)

    Also, all of Maybach as runner-up.

    • 0 avatar
      Glenn Mercer

      Maybach, good one! I agree. For various reasons:
      1. coming from Daimler, a company that most would have expected to have spectacular engineering skills to apply to this beast
      2. new dealer network not just new nameplate (or at least, dealer-in-a-dealer)
      3. insanely high price point (thus no excuse for not having enough money to make it work)
      4. new brand not just a new model
      5. wild launch campaign.. remember the helicopter delivery in NYC?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYuDAZWFNjg
      6. PER CAR the loss must be the world’s greatest? CAR magazine said Daimler invested about $1.5 billion and sold 3,000 units… if the company cleared $250,000 a unit (wholesale, I don’t mean retail price), that’s a loss of A QUARTER MILLION A CAR????

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        Maybach: Candidate for Top Gear Dream Car 2003

        Write-up in back of magazine, 2004:

        “The ultimate businessman’s express. But here businessman means leader of a global empire, not regional sales manager. Complete luxury, especially in the bigger 62. Don’t be fooled by: anyone who tells you its just a stretched S-class. It really is a whole lot better than that.”

        Write-up in back of magazine, 2009:

        “It’s a bigger, uglier, vastly more expensive Merc S-Class. Yes, the S-Class is probably the world’s most capable luxury saloon, making this V-12 version even more irrelevant. Don’t be fooled by: the classic Maybach name- this car really is as ugly and chintzy as it looks. The Rolls Royce does it so much better.”

      • 0 avatar
        rodface

        Mazder3, touche.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        Mazder: Those were different S-classes, though, weren’t they?

        (Albeit, yes, I’m sure the latter sum-up was more correct; just to be a stickler for correct detail.)

  • avatar
    econobiker

    Pontiac Aztec – weird ugly car hyped as the college car of choice for the time, maybe the same demographic that Scion Xb, Honda Element, Nissan Cube would later go after.
    I remember talking to a Pontiac salesman in late 2000 and he shook his head and said that he couldn’t give it away. He said that college kids couldn’t afford it and if they could they would buy a used BMW or such.

    Even when it came out in 2000 as a 2001 model I looked at it and figured it would be better with an urban camoflague car wrap in neon colors than stock cladding and look. And no one remembers that only the 2001 models had the grey cladding as seemingly every one of the cars you see is a 2001…

    and

    Lincoln Blackwood 2001-2002 (not the 2005+ Lincoln LT)

    “Only 3,356 Blackwoods were made in just 15 months of production” through December 2002.

    Ford was under Jacques Nassar’s internet be-dazzled helm at that time (1998 to 2001) and the advertising for the Blackwood was comical. As one example they attempted to sell the $50k+ Blackwood using a TV commercial of a rave DJ spinning records on the back tailgate of the Blackwood sitting outside a nightclub while age 20 something people danced around it in the street.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Vehemently second the Pontac Aztek as an massively misplaced, but largely prototypcal GM marketing, hype. The car rags BEGGED the General to not make this car. It was derived as hopeless months before tooling for the factory was settled upon, sales forecasts were hugely bloated, and the Buick ‘me-too’ Rendevous was penned. The Aztek was the worst portions of an SUV, Sedan, and Mini-van all rolled into one hideous wrapper. It was too slow due to its over-wrought 3.4L V-6. Ground clearance was barely high enough to roll on gravel roads. Body roll was enormous. Gas mileage was poor. And to add further insult, GM marketed it with a tent attachment for the back that sadly looked like a Mu-mu covering Homer Simpson in profile.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        …Ground clearance was barely high enough to roll on gravel roads. Body roll was enormous. Gas mileage was poor….”
        You have clearly not driven the car. I was a hater until I got into one. Compare it’s interior with any GM product of the same era. Drive it. Don’t worry about the exterior, just think you’re driving a Prius C but circa 2002.

        The ‘me too’ Buick sold well. Both prepped the market for the modern day ‘ugly’ Fit’s/xB’s/Rogue’s.

        People who still rock their Aztek’s were somewhat fanatical about them. There was one salesman at the dealership I worked at that would seal the deal whenever he got a young couple to get inside of one. The tailgate audio controls were by far my favorite feature of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “As one example they attempted to sell the $50k+ Blackwood using a TV commercial of a rave DJ spinning records on the back tailgate of the Blackwood sitting outside a nightclub while age 20 something people danced around it in the street.”

      Wow that must have been some good coke when they dreamed that one up.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Hey, they were trying to sell to ()and I’m not making this BS up!; “cultural progressive magicians” and “agile visionaries”

        http://www.autoblog.com/2012/09/11/fords-farley-addresses-the-burden-of-being-lincoln/

        I like Farely, but what the hell are “cultural progressive magicians” and “agile visionaries”

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Any car that costs more than a house in the great Midwest. I’d be grinning like a drunken monkey if I got to drive and review any “bespoke” luxury car or an insanely fast super car.
    What irks me are the comments like: “the curve of the fender has a subtly to it not seen before”, “a 3.7049238 power increase,an engineering breakthrough”, “switching from Ferragamo to Hermes really increased the quality of the leather” about a “bespoke” luxury car or an insanely fast super car. Yeah sure, have fun leaning against the ropes at the car show.

  • avatar
    bbanninga

    I will be very tired of the C7 when it comes out. Auto mags are going gaga over s “spy shot” of a mirror from the thing. Who cares?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    My 85 Lebaron GTS starred in an ad where it defeats a BMW 3-series in a contest on the surface of an aircraft carrier. That seemed like a stretch, although I loved the car until it was 15 years old.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4Rn9Sh8fSA

    • 0 avatar
      bkmurph

      Speaking of FWD domestics trying to take on BMW, I recall Cadillac ads from the late 90s where the STS was said to out-handle the 5er based on slalom speed (or skidpad grip or some other cherry-picked numerical criterion). Of course, in real life, there was no contest between the nose-heavy FWD Caddy and the balanced Bimmer.

  • avatar
    oldguy

    Although I personally don’t remember much of the Edsel launch, I remember it quickly becoming a huge joke. The “import killer” Vega was next and I was working for a GM dealer at the time, sending the engines out for boring and pistons at 10k miles. The most hype ever was supplied for the ’80 GM x-bodies, which would never begin to live up to the written word. The Volt and Camaro received a huge amount of press for years prior to launch, making it difficult to live up to, even if they are decent cars. As far as the recent Camry intro, it was just a new model, with very little info coming from Toyota prior to launch, so I don’t feel there was much hype.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    The 1983 Renault Alliance. Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. One of Car and Driver’s 10 best. Most likely to dump hot coolant on the driver’s feet. Lucky to make it 80k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Wow, hard to imagine.

      By the time I started driving, there were a few (amazingly) left cruising the high school parking lots. I remember one was donated to our High School auto shop. As a year end project, we El-Caminoized it.

    • 0 avatar
      Glenn Mercer

      Ah yes, must agree. The Alliance and its relative the Encore. The Appliance and the Anchor. Kept a lot of garages in business, replacing all the suspension bits… repeatedly…

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Crosstour.

  • avatar
    Buster Brew

    The 1982-88 Cadillac Cimarron. GM boldly marketed this badge engineered Chevrolet Cavalier as Cadillacs’ answer to the BMW 3 series and the Audi 4000. The J body roots were obvious and the Cimarron was never a serious competitor for BMW or Audi. Moreover the Cimarron inflicted serious damage to Cadillacs’ reputation with both their existing customer base and with the enthusiasts they were targeting.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      They would have been better off rebadging a Vauxhall Cavalier rather than a Chevy Cavalier… retaining the Euro instruments as such, but it still would have been toilet.

      that was GM’s most cynical point for years. Thankfully, Cadillac is making much better attempts at the idea.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The “Dale.” Look it up.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    New Beetle

  • avatar

    If you’re going to mention concept cars that failed before they ever got the chance to make it to market (like the Aston Martin Lagonda), I’m going to have to throw the recent Bentley EXP 9F into that category as well. And it PAINS me to do so, because I am the biggest Bentley fan you will probably ever meet.

    Even though I wasn’t CLOSE to being born at the time of their debut, the horrendous General Motors X-body vehicles come to mind.

    Let’s add the vehemently-hated Lincoln MKT for its clown-like styling.

    The aforementioned Volt is actually doing exactly what GM had intended. It is (whether or not the fact is true) considered to be the pinnacle of advanced technology and styling by the general public. But the Nissan Leaf, which Carlos Ghosn has talked up every chance he’s had the opportunity, is quickly on its way to becoming a flop…

    The Chrysler Aspen. I can’t believe they thought a souped-up Durango would actually compete with the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Infiniti QX56, Lexus LX and Mercedes-Benz GL.

    The Land Rover Freelander, and Freelander 2 (known here as the LR2). Seriously–why is this still in production? Its platform mate, the Volvo XC 60, does it much better…

    The first-generation Toyota Prius. Oh, but it more than made up for it…

    The Volkswagen Phaeton. Sharing its platform with the Bentley Continental line, it was everything it was cracked up to be. Moreover it was marketed as a limousine, where other vehicles were merely full-sized sport sedans. But Americans don’t understand that, and you can’t charge nearly $15K more than your luxury brand’s flagship sedan (Audi A8) for one with a VW badge…

    The Dodge Avenger. What exactly was being avenged?

    The Lincoln Zephyr. Destined to be a loser any way you look at it.

    Really all of the other vehicles I can think of have already been mentioned, but I give a re-affirmative nod to the Pontiac G6, Lincoln Blackwood (and since Ford didn’t learn its lesson the first time, the Mark LT), the Lincoln LS, and the 2nd-gen Scion xB.

    • 0 avatar
      Skink

      “The aforementioned Volt is actually doing exactly what GM had intended. It is (whether or not the fact is true) considered to be the pinnacle of advanced technology and styling by the general public.” Yeah, it’s doing everything but selling. Pinnacle of styling? Maybe back in 1980.

  • avatar
    Marko

    The “new” Lancia Stratos that Ferrari blocked development of.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Two Mercurys. The ’91-’93 Capri and the early millennial Cougar. Both over hyped. One for its ability to prove the new the direction Mercury was going (which apparently was rusty imported crap) and the other for its ability to save the brand, despite all evidence to the contrary of the bottom falling out of the sport coupe market.

    The Plymouth Prowler. One last final hurrah for the brand before it was relegated to the dustbin. Although a good concept and well-executed, it didn’t mesh at all with the uber-cheap image that Plymouth had become.

    The Chevy SSR. Same problem as above. Chevrolet has managed to have a high-end sports car with the Corvette and should leave it with that. The rest are for the masses.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s interesting that you should mention the Mercury Capri, because it was actually a Ford of Australia vehicle, and was simply imported to the States. Ford was trying to use it to beat out the Mazda Miata (which it had a financial interest in anyway).

      And when you look at it that way, the Capri is a HUGE failure, as few people even remember it, yet the Miata is considered the pinnacle of driving enjoyment for motorists everywhere, and we gear-heads eagerly await the next generation’s debut.

    • 0 avatar
      mr_muttonchops

      Wait, some one else actually compliments the Prowler!? It’s such an under-appreciated car. It’s updated V6 was actually better than any V8 Chrysler made at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      1998 model year was the first for the FWD Cougar. It was not ‘early 2000′s’ but still the 90′s, spring 1997 in fact.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Vega “America’s first 100,000 mile car.”
    Citation “The car America needs, when Americans want it.”
    Also a dishonorable mention for the Lincoln Versailles.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Any kind of Merkur (ours was a red XR4ti.)

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    The Honda CRZ. Many people were really hoping it’d be like a new CRX, but the original still manages to outdo it in nearly every single way.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Applying the CRZ name was a curse; no car could live up to the CRX expectations, even though Honda tried to say they weren’t related.

      It suffers the same fate as the 4-door Dodge Charger.

  • avatar
    mcs

    What about the 2nd Gen Insight?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    YUGO I win :-) With Citation and Vega close behind. Or almost any MT car of the year in the 70s.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Based on its real world track (lack of) performance, the 2012 ZL1 Camaro. Yes, I know that the magazine writers spoke well of it, but it has not come close to the performance promised or what the buyer expected its performance to be for so expensive a Camaro.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I dunno seems pretty fair to me, the ZL1 is pretty comprehensively equipped for its price especially when you comapre it to the 2011 and 2012 GT500s which were just a wee bit cheaper and did not deliver nearly the same level of performance as the ZL1 – The 2013 GT500 with its 662hp 5.8 does offer up more speed and acceleration but you have to pony up (no pun intended) an extra 6k or so to get the “track ready” GT500.

      I’m a Mustang and GT500 nutswinger (obviously) but I really think the ZL1 is a good deal. As much as I love the 2013 GT500 it really is over priced for what you get.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Mustang II. ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    In 1968, both Ford & GM announced their intentions to build domestic subcompacts for sale in 2 years. The media ran with this story relentlessly, with magazines and newspapers that had not previously covered the industry, joining in with stories and commentary. MT made the progress on the cars almost a monthly feature, such was the interest generated. Added to this, was the huge marketing budgets allocated by both companies to promote their new babies. In fact, some of the marketing hype developed for these launches is still used today. After this level of hype, the launch of the Pinto & Vega, in the fall of 1970, could never meet the expectations created for either vehicle, whether they were good, or not. You know the rest of the story.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Vega wins, it was supposed to ‘push imports from our shores’. Anything afterwards was just “let’s hope it’s a hit”

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Ford Pinto?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Over 2 million Pintos were sold. I owned 3 of them. They met most customers’ expectations, so I wouldn’t say it was over-hyped at all.

      It kept Ford in the small car game until the Fiesta and Escort showed up in the US.

      The real hype with the Pinto has to do with the gas tank issue and “The Ford Memo”. The memo myth has been debunked, and people don’t realize that while tragic, many more people perished in GM truck gas tank fires than in Pinto fires.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      My mom owned a Pinto wagon. She LOVED that car more than anything else she’d ever been behind the wheel of. This is a lady who drove just about everything between the 60s and 90s.

      She still talks about how much she misses her Pinto today.

  • avatar
    NewsLynne

    I appreciate the introductory ads for the Ford Tempo, which show it doing loops on a big letter O.

  • avatar
    Robert Gordon

    Tucker Torpedo…Through rose tinted retrospection everyone lauds them. Tucker failed not through some conspiracy as is popularly stated, but because the cars were bad. I had a drive in one recently and judged by the standard of it’s peers it is terrible.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Plymouth Volare/Dodge Aspen. They were M/T cars of the year and what ever loving POS’s they were even though they had virtually the same indestructable drivetrain as the Valiant/Duster/Dart. Ford Granada, an ugly little car that was said to resemble a Mercedes, sort of the way Rosie O’Donnel resembles Jessica alba in being bipedal.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    It has to be Ford’s Edsel range. All the advance teaser ads promised a shockingly innovative “Car of Tomorrow”packed with wondrous new futuristic technologies that would stand the industry on it’s head. Ford’s copy writers seemed to have had some sort of internal competition to draft the most over the top press release, and they forecast something like 300,000 sales in the first year – which, at the time, was several times more than any previous new marque had ever achieved in its launch year.

    When the car finally launched, what buyers actually got was a slightly gussied up Ford or Mercury body shell with a questionable grille and a few novel features that were neat but not earth shattering. Sticker prices were also way higher than expected. Customers stayed away, and they sold just 67,000 units. The brand was dead in less than 3 years.

    No car, no matter how good, could have had any hope of living up to all that hyperbole (unless, maybe a Citroen), so whatever Ford put on the market was bound to be a disappointment after all that overselling. The fact that the car they did wind up selling was the Edsel just made it all the worse.

  • avatar
    raph

    Heh… Vector Motors and the various Vector W cars.

  • avatar
    Glen.H

    Showing my age now, but I’m going to nominate a pair of ’80s Brits that were hyped to high heaven. The Jaguar XJ40 series and the Rover 800/Sterling. Both were going to drive the German luxury cars back into the sea. The Germans barely noticed them. Then the Japanese came and stole their lunch.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      +1 on the Sterling. What a hopeless piece of garbage that was. I believe they sold those through the Premier/Eagle/Dodge/Plymouth/Jeep/Chrysler dealership, where it was lost in the sea of cheaper K cars.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    New Beetle: Despite even getting its own video game (Beetle Adventure Racing) and starring in many others (Midtown Madness), the real New Beetle was just a Golf with a poorly designed body, good luck replacing… well anything in a body that was more suited for a toy than an actual car.

    It was also nothing like the old VW Bug.

    Chevy Sonic: Remember the DaewoodChevy Aveo? Thats what this is except for being uglier.

    Kia Soul: Actually I take that back, I wouldn’t know a thing since this cars target audience consists of hamsters.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      At least the “Sonic” (comical badging; it’s an “Aveo” everywhere else) is not nearly as dismal as the Aveo that preceded it. It’s a much more substantial car. Or rather, it feels that way. Which, I guess is far as you can get hyping an Aveo.

      I also feel the VW New Beetle served its purpose. I see so many on the road that while it doesn’t quite match up with the Golf, maybe it wasn’t meant to. I think people were just happy to see the “Beetle” back.

      Now the current Beetle is more like it.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    2011 Ford Explorer. I don’t understand how turning the Explorer into yet another milquetoast crossover generated so much hype, especially considering Ford already had a number of very similar offerings on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I agree. It certainly wasn’t ground breaking. It is essentially a re-packaged Taurus X/Freestyle (which never recieved much attenion). Suddenly slap an Explorer badge on it, carve up the sides and it’s 2011 North American Truck of the Year.


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