By on November 22, 2012

If over the last few weeks we have travelled to IraqPolandAustralia and China, you can also check out 167 additional countries and territories in my blog, all from the comfort of your home. Or if all that matters to you is the United States of A (yes you at the back – I know that’s what you’re thinking), I can offer you the 264 best-selling models in the USA in October 2012. Every single one of them.

But I have something different for you today.

Over the years there has been a few things I haven’t got my head around. Simple things, odd things or stupid things. They have been like a nagging voice in the back of my head. So I decided to put them all in one article on here. Now the tone is definitely tongue in cheek, I know most answers to these questions are cost-related, but that’s boring. So enjoy!

1. Why are the Americans not stuck in the fifties?

1959 Pontiac Catalina

In the late fifties and early sixties, American cars were the biggest, boldest and baddest. Oldsmobile Super 88Pontiac BonnevilleMercury Park LaneLincoln ContinentalCadillac Coupe DeVille, Pontiac Catalina (pictured above), Plymouth Belvedere and Ford Thunderbird: legendary nameplates that have almost all disappeared. Heck, even the Chevrolet (Bel Air) Impala looked good back then. Today what we have to deal with is a Chevrolet Cruze designed in South Korea… Please Detroit, along with importing cars from Detroit, take us back to 1959 all over again!

Lada Largus

2. Why does Lada take so long to launch a car that already exists?

In 2006 Renault launched the Dacia Logan MCV, then bought Avtovaz (aka Lada) in 2011 and decided it would rebadge the Logan MCV as the Lada Largus for the Russian market. It was unveiled at the Moscow Motor Show in August 2011. But we had to wait almost an entire year to see the model go on sale in the country in July 2012… Why oh why? It is exactly the same car. Iranian carmaker Iran Khodro does even ‘better’ and it waited 3 years between the presentation of the Iran Khodro Runna in April 2009 and its on-sale date in Iran in April 2012, whereas the model is a thinly disguised Peugeot 206 sedan dating back to 2006…

You don’t like the new Hyundai Santa Fe? That’s ok, a new one should be here in 3 years…

3. How does Hyundai do it?

On the other end of the scale, in the same time it takes Iran Khodro to launch an already existing model, Hyundai has decided they would revamp their entire range… I don’t mean just facelift, I mean totally revamp their models, like the Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe, i30 and i40 to name just a few, and also throw in a quirky coupé, the Veloster. And it goes the same for sister brand Kia with a constant flux of all-new models being churned out of the Korean car maker’s factories all around the world. But how do they do it?

1963 Panhard 24 CT

4. Where has French luxury gone?

While Louis Vuitton bags, Moët & Chandon champagne, Hermès scarves and Louboutin heels continue to rack up stratospheric sales and churn billions of dollars, keeping the French economy afloat in the meantime, in the automobile world French luxury has gone missing. Renault Vel Satis anyone? Surely if Victoria Beckham can design the interior of a Range Rover Evoque, the French should be able to do wonders. Bonus points to Citroen for its DS range, but please, someone bring back Panhard already!

1957 Fiat 500 

5. What is wrong with Fiat making (very) small cars?

Fiat Bravo, Stilo, Marea, Croma, Ulysse… Rather forget about them? That’s right. Fiat doesn’t do medium or large cars very well. Fact. Fiat Topolino, 500, 600, 850, 126, 127, 128, Uno, Panda, Cinquecento, Seicento, Palio, Punto, Grande Punto, Nuova 500, 500L… Fiat does (very) small cars. And does it (very) well. Get over it and bring more on!

Peugeot 504 in Djenne, Mali. Picture by Leonid Plotkin, all rights reserved. 

6. How did Peugeot lose Africa?

In the sixties, seventies and all the way through to the eighties, all you could see on African roads were Peugeots. 403, 404, 504, 505, you name it, it was there, indestructible workhorses under very harsh conditions. Nowadays they have all but been replaced by Japanese, Korean and now Chinese models. To the point where in some countries including Australia where I reside, French cars are now considered unreliable. Whether this is justified or not, this is a perfect example of solid brand equity that has gone to waste. Can the 301 single-handedly reverse the trend?

7. Why do all Chinese Volkswagens now look the same?

If you are a regular TTAC reader you would have caught my China: Volkswagen who’s who article. I had to, because all new launches from the German carmaker this year in China produce a very similar design each time. In the picture above, from top to bottom you can see the 2013 VW Jetta, Polo, Lavida, Sagitar, Passat, Magotan and 2013 Bora. Granted, Volkswagen is going from success to success in China and you don’t change something if it’s not broken, but seriously?

Nissan Qashqai

8. Why is there no Nissan Qashqai in the USA?

The Nissan Qashqai has been the success story of the European automobile world over the last 5 years, regularly breaking into the European Top 10 best-selling models in 2011 and 2012 and even topping the ranking in Spain and Finland. The similarly-sized Rogue in the US has been doing ok, not great. Replace it with the Qashqai folks, simple. I know this will happen at the next generation but still, it seems to me like dozens, if not hundreds of thousands of North American sales have been missed here.

VW Kombi

9. Why do Brazil still manufacture old cars?

Next year the VW Kombi will cease production in Brazil because of stricter safety rules, after 56 years of loyal services in what has become the longest continuous production run for any model in the world. No significant updates have been made to the Brazilian Kombi since the late seventies! Now I know the Kombi is a cult car, but the Brazilians also get a Chevrolet Corsa which is basically the 1993 Opel Corsa, and the Volkswagen Golf sold there is based on the 4th generation from 1997! No wonder when Hyundai launches an all-new model in the country (the HB20) it sells like hot cakes! Come on folks, the Brazilian consumer deserves better than that.

Maserati Kubang

10. Why is the Maserati Kubang not on sale yet?

I just love that car. Give it to me. Now.

And that were the 10 things I don’t understand.

What about you?

What don’t you understand?

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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74 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: 10 Things I Don’t Understand...”


  • avatar
    Diewaldo

    Hello Matt,

    I have to correct you on the Corsa on sale in Brasil. To me it looks like the Corsa C which was new in the year 2000.

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opel_Corsa_C

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Diewaldo,

      Sorry, but Matt is correct. It is the same car as the earlier one with a skin made to look llike the 2000 Opel. “Brazilian” makers are great at putting the new look on the same old platform. The most serious “offender” in this category is Fiat. Like B&B commentator Magnusmaster has pointed out, the Idea sold in Brazil, while it looks just like the Euro-Idea, in Brazil sits on an old Palio platform, while in Italy it sits on the Punto. Though they look the same outside, on the inside they’re different (and on the Brazilian one the seating is all kinds of crooked since the adaptations led to many a compromise) and of course the ride.

      • 0 avatar
        marcosbarauskas

        I dont think so Marcelo. I mean, when the new Montana was released, it was criticized for having abandoned the Corsa C base to adopt the Agile base, which is tha same one used in the 1993 Corsa. So the bases are different.

        However, we do have the 1993 Corsa as the 4-door Chevrolet Classic, whereas the Corsa C has been replaced by the new Onix.
        Not to mention we also have the Celta, which is basically a restyled 1993 Corsa.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        Marcelo, he’s right. The Brazilian Corsa C does not sit on the same GM4200 platform that underpinned the Corsa B. Both the Corsa C and the Meriva sit on the more recent GM4300.

        The Mk.1 Montana shared that same architecture, but that was indeed replaced by the ancient GM4200 for the Mk.2 Montana. Now that both the Meriva and the Corsa C are gone, the GM4200 outlived GM4300 in Brazil and lives on within the Classic, the Agile and the Mk.2 Montana.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i dont ‘love’ Hyundais/Kias but I’m a keen student of how they came about to be such a major force in the West.

    They can run 3yr cycles because THEY BASICALLY HAVE TO.

    Let me explain.

    The Kia Forte was introduced in 2009 and it was generally a fairly good car but it wasnt anywhere near class leading or even “class middling”.

    Drive one. Its not a great car. But is is good looking, cheap and reliable with a good warranty. When I see them on the road I think “what a pleasant looking car”.

    When I saw the new Corolla I immediately thought “that’s a nice looking Kia” (how things change!)

    So if you release a new car in 2009 that isnt a class leader in 2009 you can expect it to be completed outclassed by 2012… hence they need a new model for 2013.

    Now of course this will change in the future once they improve dynamics but for now, its what they have to do.

    Also they dont do it across the board but rather on cars that are at the ‘spearhead’ of sales wars. Medium to large SUVs is another hotly contested segment. I’ve driven the superceded Kia Sorrento/Santa Fe and while I think its a fine SUV it is clearly not built or dynamically competitive. The Kia is a tad better being newer but the Sante Fe clearly has its roots in the early 2000s.

    They dont need to change as much in the more niche models. The Sedona/Carnival is 2006 aged. But so is the Mitsubishi Outlander and Lancer…

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Most manufacturers now do mid-cycle facelifts (just like American cars did every year in the late 1950s). Hyundai is using a similar approach in order to contain costs while still presenting “all new” models. For example, the new Santa Fe rides on the 2007-2011 model’s platform. Instead, Hyundai spent the money to make sure the car looks fresh outside and inside.

      Regarding the Chinese VWs — while VW is generally focused on making sure the corporate face is maintained, in China the situation is exacerbated by the fact that you will see imported VWs, FAW VWs and SAIC VWs, all with different (yet similar) model selections.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        Seems like money well spent rather than redesigning the whole platform to increase torsional rigidity to the point where it resembles a bank vault. I seem to recall that Hyundai, and by extension Kia, have a six-day work week and very long workday, which would drastically increase the output of their engineers on an annualized basis versus their RenCen counterparts.

  • avatar

    Hi Matt,

    As to old cars in Brazil, I’ve got 2 words for you: prtotectionism and consumer’s low standards.

    In the 90s, when the Brazilian market opened up, things like Hyundai Besta and Asia Towner sold more than Kombi. Then the gov hit them with import tariffs and the Kombi went on unmolested. Fact was, in the 90s VW was winding down production of the Kombi when they got a little help from their friends in Brasilia. Recently, the same happened with small commercial Chinese vans taking the market. While not as succesful as the Koreans, the Kombi (and Fiat Fiorino) have enjoyed better sales now due to increased protection.

    Finally, the consumer. Many Kombi buyers (and Fiorino) are small business men who prefer a no frills, simple vehicle due to (it’s unavoidable) costs and ease of maintenance VW and Fiat can provide. All of that form sums of more than 20k USD for Kombi and 17.5k for Fiorino.

    • 0 avatar

      Oi Marcello

      Almost the same applies to Mexico, the low consumer standards, and consumer education, many prefer a cheap car outdated by 12 years at least (Nissan Tsuru, VW Jetta Clasico) or newer plattforms in bare bones configurations regarding safety features, no airbags, no ABS or any electronic aid system, even drum brakes on the rear… (Aveo, Attitude) but with an iPod interface and aluminum wheels. On a few the safety features are “Optional Safety Package” On the VW side, The Jetta Clasico has the very well known 2.0Slow engine, with 115 Hp and wonderful 8 Valves…
      The Corsa/Chevy has been discontinued here, so now they produce the Aveo and bring the Korean Daewoo cars instead.
      Abraço

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      The Kombi also has the RWD configuration going for it; that engine sitting over the rear axle really helps on unpaved roads, which are still present all over Brazil. So does the robust chassis and the dead simple mechanics.

      Nothing beats The Old Lady’s offroad capabilities this side of a Defender or a Troller. Specially at its price point.

  • avatar
    carlokiii

    Spot on with the Qashqai… this bothers me every night before I sleep.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    So, regarding the Qashqai vs Rogue thing, the first question that comes to mind is: what does Nissan Qashqai had that the Rogue didn’t? And from there, how does that “something” that the Qashqai does that the Rogue didn’t help them sell better in the US? Has anyone make a direct comparison between the two? Granted, that might be a bit difficult since the two exists on a separate continent, but maybe this is a challenge that TTAC could take?

  • avatar
    nmcheese

    What happened to utilitarian design in large SUVs? A Range Rover / Land Cruiser without plush carpets and ‘infotainment’ and an inline diesel in place of the thirsty v8… that would be the one for me. (Yes I know that ends up being the Jeep Wrangler, but even that has an overcomplicated v6 now)

  • avatar
    tuscreen-auto

    I don´t understand why most new cars look like giant toy cars.
    Why car designers seem to have lost any sense for timelessness and the right proportions.
    Why they turn each new car into a fashion statement that will look horribly outdated three years after its debut (OK, I actually DO understand that one. The decision-makers want to create incentives for people to keep buying new cars on a regular basis.)

    I don´t understand why even Ferrari — once the pinnacle of pure, clean, elegant, timeless, well-proportioned automotive design — has started making travesties of sports car design.

    I don´t undestand how Mercedes-Benz can get away with the kind of “design language” they currently employ on all of their new models.

    I don´t understand why the top-of-the-range Rolls Royce model had to go from “pompuous but elegant” to “pompuous and butt-ugly”.

    And these are just the questions I can come up with from the top of my head……

    • 0 avatar

      I like your questions tuscreen :)

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re talking about the FF, Ferrari wanted to make a car usable by families, or at least single dads driving his kids around. Same with the Porsche and the Panamera and Cayenne. I don’t understand why those cars are so maligned – they surely perform well for what they are, and customers want them.

      I’m dismayed by Mercedes-Benz’ changes myself, though, especially since they have been my favorite automaker for a long time. The macho-tough styling really turns me off.

      I would seek refuge in a Tesla Model S if I could afford one :). The styling’s sensational and I love the performance.

      D

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      tuscreen, modern cars design doesn’t translate well to toy cars because the proportions are often off.

      Go and try to buy a HotWheels car for your little one, choose a modern car and you will see.

      To the Awstrayan designers credit, the local stuff translates quite well to small toy, Camaro and Falcon are the examples that I have bought.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Translation: “I don’t like modern styling. Carmakers must be doing everything wrong.”

      Well, guess what–a lot of people do like that styling, and that’s why they do it.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    3. How does Hyundai do it?

    I’ll tell you how, from a Ford perspective, because they did an actual study on how Hyundai does it.

    During my time there, I sat through a presentation where Jim Farley explained explained that the fierce work ethic that exists at Hyundai in Korea is the cause. You win market share by getting the newest product to the market the fastest.

    Hyundai engineers work 60-80 hour weeks and usually sleep in dorms on company property during the week, and only see their families a couple days at a time.

    In short, they’re doing what the NA industry did to the British, then the Japanese did to us.

    While South Korea could almost be considered a Western country by their standard of living, it wasn’t obtained from nothing. And I’ll tell you, a lot of OEMs are very worried about Hyundai’s pace, as it is unprecedented.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    What I don’t understand, why during SUV boom Nissan never offered Patrol in North America and Toyota never offered Land Cruiser in Canada (except as a ‘fancy Toyota’ LX?

  • avatar
    Dan Roth

    What I don’t get is the incessant throw-back fascination with the 1950s. Shoot, ’59 wasn’t a great year for cars, and it was coming off ’58, which was a recession year. Granted, the Corvair debuted late in ’59, but you had stuff that was built like crap, splashed in very bright colors. Apparently that’s what people like?

    Seriously – the ’50s were no picnic unless you were middle class, white and straight.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Sticking to cars, the 1950′s represented some of the highest points in design and sheer lust for automotive form. I can dig it.

    • 0 avatar
      tuscreen-auto

      “Seriously – the ’50s were no picnic unless you were middle class, white and straight”

      …. which the vast majority of society was back then……

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        Perhaps you are applying a 2010 definition of “white” to the 1950′s.

        In 1850s-1950s ‘polite society’ Italians, Irish, most French and certainly all Jews were definitely not members at any “respectable” country club.

        Let alone were they considered “white”. Also, Catholics were highly suspect.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        The baby boomers grew up in the 1950s. Then conservative ideology demoguaged it. It’s the same reason why we watch the same christmas specials every year and the most popular christmas songs are from that era. They are a dominant generation who can’t see themselves for what they are, good or bad. They’ve imprinted their identity on the US for so long that really only the last two elections for president has begun to unseat them.

        To be slightly on topic, no the vast majority of Americans were working class which would have been a step removed from middle-class. Cars as a percentage of salary also cost substantially less. I think the 1950′s are beautiful cars for the low tolerance machining they could do. Now they seem beautiful but non-competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        baygus

        @porschespeed: I’m sure you’ll be able to supply copious examples of the mythical ‘No Irish Need Apply’ signs which didn’t exist in the 19th century and certainly didn’t exist in the 1950′s.

        As for anti-Catholic prejudice.. yes, there was a certain amount of anti-Catholic prejudice in the North until JFK proved that Catholics could not only put their allegiance to the Pope and Catholic values under their allegiance to America, but under their personal pleasure as well.

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        @baygus,

        Perhaps you should reread my post. It said nothing about not hiring any of those groups – merely that they were not considered “white” by the WASPy societal conventions at the time. Amongst themselves they were, but not by the folks in charge.

        Of course they liked cheap Chinese/Irish/Italian labor, that’s why they were brought here. But they didn’t want them living in their neighborhood, nor attending their schools or churches. Let alone dating their daughters.

        As to proving the attitude that they weren’t “white”, I’m sorry that HS American history failed. This is easy to research these days by using google, which will take you to hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles of the 1800s early 1900s when the “race problems” were still argued publicly. Around the early 1900s it went a bit underground, but do look up why there were Jewish, Italian, and Irish Country and social clubs set up in even as late as the 1950s.

        Even more interesting is that all those groups hated each other. The Italian mobsters would let Jews do the books (how ‘stereo’ is that?) but they wouldn’t let them join. Hence the Jewish mobs were formed. And neither wanted the Irish around.

        History is fascinating stuff…

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ Dan Roth The US auto industry had no serious competition in the 50′s. Yes, GI’s brought back English roadsters and Mercedes was selling their cars via Studebaker dealerships. The landscape was entirely different. GM produced the iconic 1955,56,57 Chevies and Ford made the iconic two seat Thunderbirds. Harley Earl was doing his magic at GM. Cars were designed to be bold and exude confidence; we’d won the war and everyone was making money. Today we have conservative, safe boring, designs that are subdued but don’t say the owner is kicking ass. The Escalade is a glaring exception to this. I’d like to have a 59 Catalina convertible, like the cartoon, for weekend cruiser. It makes a bold statement. The industry makes very few “A Type” personality vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      I think one big part of it is many people’s obsession with the ’50s and early ’60s as the “good old days” where all suburban families were the Cleavers, Nelsons, Mitchells, and Petries (obviously untrue.) Rose-tinted specs have a powerful effect.

      going along with that, there’s also the attitude that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Which is a good thing, because cars back then *sucked.* They were sloppily built, hilariously unsafe, unreliable, and- in the northern states- you could hear them rust. They weren’t anywhere near as durable as some people claim they were. Carbs were awful, points wore out and needed constant fiddling, bias-ply tires were a joke, and god help you in a panic-stop situation with unboosted four-wheel drum brakes.

      I think the third part of it is that cars were restyled nearly every year. and you could tell a Chevy from a Ford from a Plymouth from a Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      baygus

      If you haven’t noticed, quite a few people in the 50′s were middle class, white, and straight.

      Obviously there’s been great progress in replacing the middle class white people in good paying jobs with poorer peasants from Mexico since then, but hey, a straight white American who holds 1950′s civil values in his personal life just lost the presidential election, so that’s no surprise.

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        A historical fallacy, only shared with the fox-informed…

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Granted all social injustices inflicted against innocents due to circumstances beyond their control, the period 1950-1970 represents the height of Western power. We in the West are in the process of a self inflicted forty-two year decline. While the reasons are many for this decline, forced multiculturalism is certainly among them. Brush up on you Mandarin because our neutered American society -in part created by social liberals and political leftists- is ill equipped to fight off a serious invasion.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I don’t understand how American manufacturers lost Central America. Twenty or thirty years ago American cars owned the market there. Last year I spent two weeks in Cost Rica and saw 2 American vehicles!! Everywhere I went there were Hyundai SUVs with diesel engines. There actually are more markets than North America, Europe and China!

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t understand how American manufcturers lost… The US!!!!!
      Well I can guess.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        No kidding. After living in the US for several years, the last ten in New Jersey, I moved away in 2002. When I paid a recent visit, I was a bit disturbed to notice that none of my old friends drove American anymore. And the big Ford dealership in my old neighborhood is now a Toyota store…

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Oh My Lord, Hyundai diesel SUV’s? The station wagon jihad may have a splinter group forming. It may be “close enough” for them ;)

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I agree – we were in CR for a week last January and saw exactly one American car – a turquoise 1965 Comet sedan on what looked like a jury-rig used car lot. Heavy concentrations of diesel-powered vehicles with manual transmissions. Even the ubiquitous Toyota Hi-Ace passenger vans were 5-speed diesels. Nearly everything vehicular was Oriental in origin – there were a few Jettas and Mercedes though.

      Big trucks otoh were all KW, Peterbilt, Freightliner etc, just like on US highways.

  • avatar
    msquare

    I don’t think anyone wants to bring back the ’59 Cadillac. I do believe people think Detroit needs to bring back some of the chutzpah designers had back then and give American cars some uniquely American personality with modern engineering.

    The trucks never lost that. The cars need it back. Some, like the Chrysler 300, hit the mark. Most still don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      >> I don’t think anyone wants to bring back the ’59 Cadillac.

      I do! Last Cadillac worthy of the name IMO.

      *Still seething over the introduction of the ‘everything’s made of Trapezoids’ Art and Science design language being made not with comparisons to the bad-old-days of badge-engineered luxury, but with trying to make the glorious El Dorado of old out to be ‘Old ‘n Busted’.*

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “I don’t think anyone wants to bring back the ’59 Cadillac.”

      No no that’s exactly what they should be doing. Classic Deville lines with a modern LSx power-train and properly working cylinder deactivation. Hell will freeze over before it happens, but still its the right direction for the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good to see a constructive counterpoint argument. I think given the puke that can pass for an automobile these days a reverse CAFE rule where something with “grotesque space inefficiency” is required to be produced as well.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Two weeks ago, driving a friend’s parents’ 2005 LeSabre to Florida, I stopped at a Waffle House (they don’t have them where I live) and while waiting for my order, walked across the road for a close look at the semi-derelict white ’59 two-door Cadillac parked at a service station. Upon close inspection, it was quite obvious that this was one of the most bloated cars ever made – and it wasn’t just an illusion caused by the non-”wide-track” chassis. The amount of volume wasted outboard of the passenger compartment was simply unbelievable – I suppose that’s the price paid for being recognizable from 150 feet away.

      Even if it had been well-built, a car like this couldn’t be taken seriously even while it was in production; preparations for the 1961s were already well advanced. For me the high-water-mark for U.S. car design was 1965, and the full-size Pontiacs and Cadillacs in particular; 1965 was the first year for not only widespread curved side glass but also the first glass convertible rear window (on the GM full-size cars), among other things. I’m well aware that these cars were as mechanically antiquated as the 1959s, but at least they had switched to perimeter frames by 1965 and better automatic transmissions such as the THM 400 were becoming more widespread. Plus, the Corvair redesign for ’65 was not only graceful but had the suspension the original car should have had.

      Chutzpah is one thing; grotesque space inefficiency is quite another. (Of course the latter can happen without the former; case in point, the 1971 GM full-size line.)

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        Where you see ‘wasted outboard volume’, I see ‘voluptuous lines’.

        Where you see ‘grotesque space inefficiency’, I see a glorious example of a bygone era predating the modern intervention of cab-forward, slab-sided, zero-overhang “let’s tuck everything we can in and under the greenhouse until the whole car looks like a jellybean.” nonsense that deserves a comeback. :)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good to see a constructive counterpoint argument. I think given the puke that can pass for an automobile these days a reverse CAFE rule where something with “grotesque space inefficiency” is required to be produced as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        My first experience with a ‘space-efficient’ luxury car was when my grandparents finally traded in their beloved 1989 Oldsmobile 88 for a 2005 Buick Lucerne and I got drafted to perform chauffeur duty in it.

        It was Horrible! Was my first time ever in a Buick and totally killed any potential enthusiasm I’d have for the brand. The deeply raked windshield looked like it was hovering over my face, the driver’s side door almost wrapped around my left arm, the console felt like it was up in my armpit almost.. compared to the ‘luxury’ cars I’d been in before this was like being in a Coffin!

        Didn’t look too pretty from the outside either.

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    1958. Oldsmobile wagon, 371 J-2 Kettering V8. What I wouldnt give for a 1958 Olds.

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    Here’s something I don’t understand. Why doesn’t Lincoln offer there top of the line MKS with more horsepower? A flagship car requires flagship power. They wouldn’t put a 5.0 in there – fine, but their ecoboost is Twin Turbo and it should be nothing for Ford to add another 100 horsepower to the car.

    For that matter, why does Cadillac have the nerve to offer their XTS with a basic V6? That’s a heavy car and the get up and go is marginal, at best. Second rate thinking like that produces second rate sales. It’s like they aren’t even trying.

    • 0 avatar
      Maxb49

      In fact, I know you GM researchers read this influential blog. I have the cash to buy a brand new XTS outright. I didn’t because of your lousy engine (lack of) options. Do something about it and you will have a sale. Many sales.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      My guess would be the CAFE monster, or possibly the emissions jihadists over at EPA.

      What will probably happen with luxury brands is V6 will be your standard mill in most offerings and they’ll toss in turbos, superchargers, and 80 speed paddle control transmissions to give you the illusion of some speed. Some top line packages may offer V8 (as in CTS-V) but they will be priced so high you won’t see many on the streets.

      Basic or near luxury brands will offer 4-cyl only (already happening in ’13 Fusion/Malibu) or in some lines a V6 will be offered on the top tier package which few in the brand’s target market can afford (Chevy did this with 3.6 in Malibu… had to order to 30K+ LTZ)

      You will consistently pay more to get less as time goes on, no matter what oil does… call it brand inflation.

      As we say in the computer business… Its not a bug, its a feature!

  • avatar
    AJ

    I don’t know about Peugeots being indestructible. Dad had one in the early 80s that had engine troubles multiple times, among other issues. There were three occasions when it sat for several weeks at a time while a shop tried to figure out how to fix it (while waiting for parts). By the time it hit 100k miles, dad had it towed to a junk yard.

    • 0 avatar
      baygus

      One suspects it was more a matter of ‘you can import a solid 5-10 year old Peugeot for a good price’ being true in the 60′s.. slipping to ‘you can import a dodgy 15 year old Peugeot, or a (Jap tax law forced export) 5-10 year old Jap car’ by the 90′s.

  • avatar
    gotsmart

    I am similarly bewildered by the Qashqai/Rogue split. The Qashqai is SO much more attractive, and for some odd reason, Nissan chose to develop a separate, more boring small crossover for the North American market. Every time i see a Rogue on the street, i can’t help but wonder what could have been…

  • avatar
    glwillia

    Here’s MY question: how do you pronounce ‘Qashqai’? I lived in Europe for 5 years and never did figure this out..

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    French luxury died out to the Germans and British. The Citroen C6 is really the last true french Luxury car. Part of the problem is that like Acura, in a world defined by V8s, the French never really had a V8.

    Take Jaguar, they are a non-german luxury brand with a small model range. They have V8s and everybody loves them. The same could be said for Infiniti.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    In one way this American is stuck in the fifties. I bought the wife a new bike this summer very similar to the one in the picture at the resort. Except I am sure it was cheaper today in inflation adjusted dollars and it has a real slick shimano nexus 7 speed internal gear hub.

  • avatar
    i6

    Section headings should go at the beginning of a section (ie. before the pictures in this article).

    Carry on.

  • avatar
    Whuffo2

    So many are afflicted with that curious condition which makes things in the past seem so much better than they were. Late 50′s – Mid 60′s Detroit cars were the height of styling (like them or not), but their reliability was nothing like what we take for granted now.

    Breaker point ignition, carburetor, flat tires and overheating. Things you never hear of today were very common then; you could see them broken down along the side of almost any highway. Miserable handling, lousy brakes – and they sucked fuel like there was no tomorrow.

    We live in a different world now and different vehicles are more appropriate. And 50 years from now, people will look back and drool over a CTS-V.

  • avatar
    George B

    My question would be why we don’t have cars designed for both North America and Australia? I know there is the LHD vs. RHD issue, but why not combine Australian RWD V8 modern muscle car desirability with fairly bold American styling? We get the Camaro, but miss out on other Holden models. I suspect that CAFE is the problem, but why can’t we bend these rules NASCAR style? Sell the cars with tall rear end gearing and ECU programming optimized for the EPA test and let the aftermarket unlock the performance potential.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I don’t think it’s CAFE, and it probably isn’t even FMVSS.

      It has more to do with currency exchange, cost, and other things like that. Australia is a tiny tiny market, physical size of US with 1/14 the number of people, but the Australian dollar is strong because of mining, which is hurting exports. Even Australians are starting to back away from the big Commodores by increasingly buying smaller cars.

      That’s why, while the Chevy SS seems slated for the US, it will be in relatively small numbers. That makes sense, because many of the cheap people who claim they will buy it won’t.


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