QOTD: Who's Managing Their Heritage Brand Best?

qotd whos managing their heritage brand best

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]

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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.

  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=noform&path=1&year1=2022&year2=2022&make=Jeep&baseModel=Wrangler&srchtyp=ymm&pageno=1&rowLimit=50Annual fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.
  • FreedMike How about the “Aztek” package? Wait, this car already has that…Said it before and I’ll say it again: they need to restyle the hind end on this car, stat.
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