QOTD: What's Your Favorite Automotive Success Story?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd whats your favorite automotive success story

Earlier this week, our Matthew Guy inquired about your favorite automotive “ oops” moment — a time when it all went wrong for a manufacturer’s model or idea. Today, we’re going to flip it around, switch it up, and reverse it.

There are times when everything comes together at the right place and time in the automotive world. Whether by complete accident or cunning planning (often years in advance), a manufacturer hits an idea out of the park. It might be a single model in a new style, a superb entry into a crowded marketplace, or something that fills a void hitherto left empty in the lives of hungry consumers. No case of schadenfreude here — just success, dollars, happy children, puppies, and smiling regulators and accountants.

So which tale of automotive success is your favorite? While the GTI shown above is interesting and is credited with creating the new hot hatch segment, it’s not my pick today.

This is. When Toyota’s luxury brand came to market for model year 1990, the brand had only two models: the Lexus ES250, which was a lightly modified Camry, and the Lexus LS400, an all new luxury sedan. The success of the brand was no happy accident; Toyota had begun LS development all the way back in 1983. Chairman Eiji Toyoda challenged his company to build the world’s best car, and the F1 project (“Flagship One”) began. F1 development was spurred on by the debut of Acura in 1986, and the announcement of Infiniti in 1987.

Toyota implemented exhaustive research and development, spent millions of dollars, and even sent designers to Laguna Beach, California, to study the taste and lifestyle of upper class Americans. And it paid off in spades.

In the last four months of 1989, when the Lexus brand first went on sale, it racked up 16,392 sales, exceeding the 16,000 goal set by Lexus internally. The first full year of sales in 1990 found 63,594 Lexus vehicles in American driveways, and Lexus held the sales trophy for premium imported cars in the United States by the end of 1991. The same year, J.D. Power ranked the marque highest for initial vehicle quality, customer satisfaction, and sales satisfaction.

Lexus later released the RX300, effectively beginning the crossover SUV segment we all [s]love and cherish[/s] talk about today. But I’ll stop myself now, so you can share your favorite success story.

[Detail from Wikipedia]

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2 of 153 comments
  • 05lgt 05lgt on Mar 02, 2017

    First year of NSX and S2000. Both lost some shine when the competition responded and HMC did not, but in the first year there was nothing like either. A80 Supra Turbo. At the time I thought it was overpriced... Oops.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Mar 08, 2017

    How about Harlow Curtice and the 1934 Buicks? Without the Series 40, would there be a Church of the 3800?

  • Analoggrotto Over the years GM has shown a keen interest in focusing their attention and development money on large, expensive or specialized vehicles and little to no progress in developing something excellent to complete with such class leaders as : Camry, Telluride, Civic, CR-V, Highlander, Accord, or even ho hum Corolla. And this is the way class division works in the heartland/rustbelt: pretend to care for the common man but cater the public resources to additional security and comfort for the upper echelons of society. GM is Elitist American Communism.
  • Art Vandelay Current Fiesta ST
  • Jeff S Buick Lacrosse and Chevy Montana compact pickup.
  • SCE to AUX Demand isn't the problem; expenses and cash are. With under $4 billion cash on hand, the whole thing could sink quickly. Lucid has a 'now' problem.In contrast, Rivian has $12 billion cash on hand and has moved a lot more vehicles, but they are pretty extended by building a second plant. Rivian has a 'tomorrow' problem.Going up the food chain, Tesla has $22 billion cash on hand plus positive margins. No problems there.
  • SCE to AUX Dacia DusterCitroën Cactus