QOTD: A Massacre of Marques?
On the way to meet a longtime friend for dinner last night, your author stopped off to gawk at old cars at a local cruise night event — a common occurrence when the snow isn’t flying.
Thank God for retirees with plenty of resources and lots of free time. I fear what will happen to these rides after the old guys lose their license. And, because this is TTAC and not one of those other sites, you’re not about to hear a bitter, angsty screed about Boomers and their undeserved money and opportunity, etc, etc.
Anyhow, one beauty beckoned to me from across the lot. A 1955 sedan with a badge that should prove unfamiliar to American readers urged me to take a closer look, prompting a bit of rumination about modern-day choices.
It was a Monarch. Specifically, a Monarch Lucerne — a mid-range trim of a mid-priced marque, positioned above the Custom but below the tony Richelieu. Monarch, to those unfamiliar with the brand, was a Canadian marque created just after World War 2 by Ford of Canada. Tempting buyers until 1957, and then again from 1959 to 1961 (following the Edsel disaster) the Monarch brand used Mercury as its basis, with Ford’s Canadian arm putting a special stamp on what were essentially Montereys and Montclairs.
This non-Buick Lucerne, the proud owner told me, was built in Windsor, Ontario and carried Ford’s two-speed Ford-O-Matic tranny, plus the automaker’s 292 V8.
The Meteor brand followed the same recipe north of the border, only with Ford cars — eventually moving to Mercurys after Monarch bit the dust. At the time, Canadians could buy Fords and Mercurys as well as Monarchs and Meteors. The Frontenac marque, comprised of a single vehicle (a rebadged Ford Falcon) existed for one year: 1960. Canuck General Motors fans in the 1960s could hop into an Acadian-badged model that was actually a Chevy but looked like a Pontiac.
We currently find ourselves in a time of contraction. The last couple of decades has seen the elimination of the Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Saturn, Hummer, Pontiac, Mercury, and Scion divisions of their respective parent automakers. Before that, it was Geo and Asuna, Imperial and DeSoto. Consolidation and reduced build configurations are the name of the game these days. Reduced choice, as prescribed by OEM beancounters. Sub-brands, on the other hands, are proliferating, with Mercedes-Benz’s EQ, Hyundai’s N, and Buick’s Avenir being just the latest examples of the trend.
While new automakers will inevitable join the landscape, adding new marques to shopping lists, it seems the head count of bonafide brands under existing automakers has long since reached its high-water mark.
Do you see any established automaker, domestic or foreign, adding a new marque under their corporate umbrella in the near future? Keep in mind we’re talking about brands offered here.
[Images: Steph Willems/TTAC]
WildcatMatt on Jun 14, 2019
Given how much America is all about consuming itself with remakes and reboots, I don't see a new as in "created from scratch" brand emerging unless it's a Tesla type ego/niche product. I could see the resurrection of an old brand though if it seemed like a good way to target a particular market segment. Edsel notwithstanding, I think most domestic brand names have at worst neutral and at best positive feeling with the public at large. Another exception may be Hummer due to its polarization, but the kind of people who liked to post pictures of them giving Hummer drivers the finger were never going to buy one and those that owned them seem to have near Jeep-like perceptions so the negativity there might be a net plus. I also don't forsee "AMC" being resurrected any time soon. Yes, AMC did a lot with a little and those in the know respect that, but the public at large sees AMC as the Pacer and the Gremlin, not the AMX and Javelin. Bringing back Rambler or Hudson might be a little more likely -- especially as the kids who grew up with Doc Hudson from the Pixar "Cars" franchise become old enough to drive. Sidebar: How would that be for a tie-in with a hypothetical Cars 5? A new 2022 Hudson Hornet from FCA! Depending on how the market evolves I could see VW or Nissan bringing in a brand to slot underneath (eg, Skoda or Datsun) to try to push the mainline brand upmarket a bit.
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