QOTD: A Case of Too Little, Too Late?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd a case of too little too late

Auto manufacturers don’t always get things right on the first try. Altering existing product takes time and lots of money, two things which aren’t always easy for OEMs to pull together.

Today we ask: When did a vehicle change or evolve during its production, only to still fall short of expectations?

Putting a new model on sale only to have it trashed by the motoring press, dealers, and consumers is a thorn in the side of Big Autos Incorporated. And there’s no guarantee that spending more time and money on a model to revise it will bring on the customer love fest. That’s where today’s example comes in.

Ah yes, the Cadillac Cimarron — or perhaps more appropriately, the Cadillac Cavalier D’Elegance. In 1982, General Motors was desperate for some compact luxury love. BMW was killing it with the 3 Series and taking all the young money down the road. Cadillac watched from the showrooms as its smallest offering (the rather large Seville) collected dust. But what do you do when you don’t want to spend the big bucks to come up with a competitor?

You add leather, change some trim and badges, and voila! Cimarron! Except the desired customer wasn’t having it. The Cavalier Lux fooled nobody, and the motoring press and customer took it to task. The interior wasn’t nice, the engine was a wheezy 88-horsepower inline-four, and the asking price was much too high.

“We can change it!” General Motors thought. And it did. Over the years, the brand revised its styling and standard features, fitting the Cimarron with a 2.8-liter V6 from the Skylark. But the initial engines were perhaps the biggest issue with the Cimarron, and by the time the V6 entered the fray the car’s image and reputation was worse than bad. It was really a case of too little, too late for the Cimarron. Which is probably why it had no successor until the Opel-cum-Catera many years later. And that went well, too.

What are your picks for the Too Little Too Late brown ribbon?

[Images: Murilee Martin/TTAC, GM ]

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Apr 04, 2019

    The current Ford Taurus. The prior one--based on the Five Hundred--was pretty good for what it was supposed to be--roomy, good visibility. Its replacement offered sleeker styling, on the same chassis, at the expense of the roominess and visibility. Yes, I know someone beat me to it.

  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Apr 05, 2019

    The 1990s European Ford Escort. A terrible car in 1990, by the second facelift they'd ironed out most of the issues and made it into an adequate car. But it was always adequate, especially up against the fun to drive 306 or the British-Japanese 'R8' Rover 200. Then the Focus came along and was actually a good car, and they quietly killed the Escort off.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.