QOTD: Who's Managing Their Heritage Brand Best?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
qotd who s 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]

Join the conversation
3 of 74 comments
  • 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.

  • Bader Hi I want the driver side lights including the bazl and signal
  • Theflyersfan One positive: doesn't appear to have a sunroof. So you won't need to keep paper towels in the car.But there's a serious question to ask this seller - he has less than 40,000 miles on some major engine work, and the transmission and clutch work and mods are less than 2 months old...why are you selling? That's some serious money in upgrades and repairs, knowing that the odds of getting it back at the time of sale is going to be close to nil. This applies to most cars and it needs to be broadcasted - these kinds of upgrades and mods are really just for the current owner. At the time of sale, a lot of buyers will hit pause or just won't pay for the work you've done. Something just doesn't sit well with me and this car. It could be a snowbelt beast and help save the manuals and all that, but a six year old VW with over 100,000 miles normally equals gremlins and electrical issues too numerous to list. Plus rust in New England. I like it, but I'd have to look for a crack pipe somewhere if the seller thinks he's selling at that price.
  • 2ACL I can't help feeling that baby is a gross misnomer for a vehicle which the owner's use necessitated a (manual!) transmission rebuild at 80,000 miles. An expensive lesson in diminishing returns I wouldn't recommend to anyone I know.
  • El scotto Rumbling through my pantry and looking for the box of sheets of aluminum foil. More alt right comments than actual comments on international trade policy. Also a great deal of ignorance about the global oil industry. I'm a geophysicist and I pay attention such things. Best of all we got to watch Tassos go FULL BOT on us.
  • El scotto No one and I mean no one on here is a UAW member or a salaried employee of the Big 3. Then again if someone identified themselves on here they would pilloried every time they posted.The comments on here are like listening to the overgrown children who call into sports radio shows.