Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
alpha bits

General Motors’ so-called Alpha platform has been something of an enigma since it was first conceptualized by Holden as the TT36 Torana for the 2004 Sydney Auto Show. The TT36 concept was Holden’s pitch for a sub-CTS RWD global premium sedan, although, in proper GM fashion, that job went to the late, unlamented BLS. Though fuel economy issues were said to have killed the possibility of introducing an RWD model below the CTS, the penalty wasn’t huge, making the decision to go with a Saab 9-3 rebadge all the more strange. “As a lightweight rear-wheel-drive car that is going to add about 1mpg compared to an equivalent lightweight front-wheel drive car . . . we just have to sort of wait a while and see where we are,” is how Bob Lutz explained it to Go Auto last year. More likely, GM simply had no money to develop the platform in those pre-bailout days. Now that taxpayers are footing the bill, what can we expect from Alpha?

“Torana is a rear-wheel drive vehicle smaller than the Zeta architecture and smaller than the current CTS Cadillac architecture. It is, or would be, about the size of a BMW 1-Series — maybe just a tiny bit bigger to enable larger wheels,” Mr Lutz told Go Auto in January 2008.

Now that is the architecture that has been bandied about the US press under the name of ‘Alpha Architecture’, and Alpha is still under consideration, but we haven’t kicked off any design work or any engineering work because we have to sort our way through this 35mpg (6.72L/100km) task . . . If we proceed with the Alpha Architecture, I think it is safe to say that Holden would be vitally interested in participating in that project.

If, in January of ’08, Lutz was still referring to Alpha as an “if,” the platform still has major engineering work to be done. And despite having previously made Holden GM’s RWD “global home room,” it seems that the Alpha platform will be developed in the United States. In 2004, when the Torana TT36 concept came out, Holden was raring to build it. “It could be designed and produced off a number of GM platforms, taking advantage of the virtual maths-based processes and component sharing which enabled us to build this working concept in a very short space of time,” said Holden’s design chief at the time. So if Holden came up with the Alpha idea and serves as GM’s in-house RWD developers, why aren’t they developing it? No word for now.

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  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Aug 19, 2009

    The Alpha is dead. GM Holden have taken a decision already and Cruze is it. My information is that no work is being done on Alpha and hasn't been for sometime. BTW, Zeta missed its MPG target by about 15%.

  • George B George B on Aug 20, 2009

    The Chrysler Crossfire failed largely due to insufficient leg room for most customers. It would be a mistake to make a Cadillac with less interior room than the fairly small 3 series. slateslate : August 19th, 2009 at 12:25 pm This is another area the Big 2.8 are hopeless……people are willing to pay a premium for high-content small/compact cars. Wrong! The VW Jetta is probably at the upper limit of price premium for a high-content small/compact car and it had to grow to fit it's price.

  • John On my 6th Saab now....always looking for another
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Thunderbird Production Numbers:1971 - 36,0551972 - 57,8141973 - 87,2691974 - 58,4431975 - 42,6851976 - 52,9351977 - 318,1401978 - 352,7511979 - 284,141 1980 - 156,803 1981 - 86,693 1982 - 45,142 1983 - 121,999 1984 - 170,533 1985 - 151,852 1986 - 163,965 Looks like the T'Birds on the Torino frame sold like gang busters ('77 thru '79).
  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.