QOTD: Who's Managing Their Heritage Brand Best?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

There’s your manifesto! This year’s Jeep Super Bowl ad was more than a breath of fresh air in the middle of turgid political pronouncements and vapid virtue signaling. It was a reminder that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has a rock-solid grip on what its core product is and how to develop said product. In fact, other than the temporary aesthetic disaster of the square-headlight YJ, it’s fair to say that the descendants of the CJ-7 have been on a pretty solid path for the past 30 years.

Has anybody else managed their heritage brand this well for this long? The short answer is “maybe.”


Ford’s introduction of the Telnack-styled 1979 Mustang reversed the marque’s slide through elephantine Mustang Grande and Pinto-based Mustang II. There was a turbo engine from the jump and the mighty 5.0-liter from 1982 forward. You could argue that things went a little pear-shaped with the 1995 SN95 body and the gutless SOHC 4.6-liter in 1996, but there were twin-cam Cobras available and of course the 2004 Cobra “Terminator” will remain a classic until the heat death of the universe.

Chevrolet put the Vette on the right track in 1984 and it’s been there ever since, making the jump to no-excuses world-class performance with the C5 in 1997 and now taking on the world with the terrifying new ZR1. Not all of the product has been completely compelling, particularly when you’re talking about the automatic-transmission convertibles that make up the bulk of sales. But the underlying technology has been pretty freaking neat for a long time and the car has never fallen behind the competition in terms of raw pace, particularly around a racetrack.

All things considered, however, I think Jeep has done the best job, particularly since the Wrangler is the only one of these vehicles that does genuine volume any more. Feel free to disagree. Or maybe you think some other company is doing better… the BMW M3? The Mitsubishi Eclipse? The… Toyota Camry?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • SilverCoupe SilverCoupe on Feb 10, 2018

    Gee, no one has said Cadillac, I wonder why?

    • DEVILLE88 DEVILLE88 on Apr 05, 2018

      i have to agrre with most that jeep is being handled pretty well. i would love to say Cadillac as i am a major Cadillac guy and GM as well.....but i can't :(. GM just announced the retirement of the Impala and sonic that does not instill confidence in the company. they tease with cars like escala and give us domestic BMW's. the Escalade is a great suv and i like what they offer now,,,but don't love it. i'm tired of the Art and Science look and would love to see something that harkens back to it's heydays. Camaro and Corvette are champs. i've lost a lot of enthusiasm for GM. at least i can go back in time and buy a car that says that GM was great at one time:(

  • Phila_DLJ Phila_DLJ on Feb 12, 2018

    "It was a reminder that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has a rock-solid grip on what its core product is and how to develop said product" I don't know, it sounds like the depiction of the fancy new Jeep driving right through a stream (even if a tiny disclaimer said it was an artificial stream on private property) angered some fishers, some of whom own Jeeps.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.
  • Big Al from Oz Musk and Trump are of the same ilk, except Musk's IQ is a damn site higher than Trumps. Musk like Trump is only into himself. Musk doesn't care about Trump only Musk. Musk sees more dollars if Trump wins.Hey, I'm Big Al again!3
  • Rover Sig We have a car with two fake exhausts in the bumper, but a large shiny muffler visible hanging down on one side, not aligned with the fake exhaust exits. Horrendous. I had to paint the shiny muffler with high-temp black paint to make it less visible. Exhaust pipes were meant to be round and hang below the bumper, and they can be made quiet or loud as the engineers like. But fake exhausts rank down there with fake intake vents on the side of that old Buick.
  • EBFlex Of course it does. What a silly question
  • Buickman Elon is a phony.
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