QOTD: Alternative History of Missed Automotive Opportunities?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd alternative history of missed automotive opportunities

Today marks the first entry into a two-part Question of the Day series where we’ll step back in time. The purpose of the journey? To fix the mishaps committed by automakers. First up are the missed opportunities.

Think back to any historical time period you desire, and pick out one instance where an automaker really messed up and missed an opportunity. A decision which would affect the company’s fortunes and/or product offerings in the years to come; if only they’d done that One Simple Thing! Your author volunteers to go first.

1986: Honda offers a V8 in the Acura Legend

Honda sold Acura vehicles beginning 1986, when they beat Lexus and Infiniti to market by four full model years. Perhaps they were quicker on the front end than Toyota and Nissan because they didn’t put in as much effort as their Japanese competition. In ’86 Acura had a single car — the Legend sedan. It was joined in 1987 by the coupe version, which donated its larger 2.7-liter V6 (161 hp) to the sedan version for 1988. The Legend marked Honda’s first full-size entry into the North American market, as well as the first production car from the brand with a V6. It wasn’t enough.

Legend development was in conjunction with Rover, who jointly created the same-yet-different Legend called the Rover 800 (and Sterling). It was probably daring of the small engine people at Honda to develop a V6 for their new luxury car — but they should’ve dared harder. Coming to market with a front-drive V8 full-sizer (common in the Eighties) would’ve put the brand in a better position to compete with American luxury brands, and made Acura more of a threat for Lexus and Infiniti. The other Japanese premium marques came to market with V8 engines and rear-drive for their full-size sedans, which were also more full-size than the Legend.

That first offering set the stage for the relative floundering Acura stands for today. Apart from the occasional bright spot in the form of an Integra here and an RSX there, the Acura brand has never been a real threat to Lexus, or really any other luxury brand. It’s now a crossover company, and its largest sedan (the RLX) is very sad indeed. Quite a missed opportunity then, in those hazy, smoggy early Eighties. Even a borrowed V8 would’ve been better than nothing.

Let’s hear your selections for automotive missed opportunities.

[Images: Acura]

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  • Eng_alvarado90 Eng_alvarado90 on Jul 25, 2019

    Alternative reality #99 Ford added a Crew Cab to the Ranger by 1998 just like it did globally and beat the competition by at least 2 years. The next decade it was significantly updated with a new platform, powertrains and improved capabilities, It remains the best selling pickup in its class. Dodge updated the Nitro and Caliber based on the new Cherokee and Renegade respectively. Dodge is posting healthy finances Chrysler put better materials and thriftier engines inthe Aspen. In 2011 it was updated like the Durango. Chrysler is posting healthy finances

  • Volvo Volvo on Jul 29, 2019

    Alternate history. Late 1960s the big 3 commisions a study on the demographics of who was buying those relatively unknown BMWs and MBZs and why they were buying them. Then acted on the information. Same for Japanese brands in the mid 80s.

    • Steve203 Steve203 on Jul 29, 2019

      >>Late 1960s the big 3 commisions a study on the demographics of who was buying those relatively unknown BMWs and MBZs and why they were buying them.

  • Jeff S We have had so many article about gas wars. A lighter subject on gas wars might be the scene from Blazing Saddles where the cowboys were around the campfire and how their gas contributed to global warming or was it just natural gas.
  • Jeff S We all have issues some big and most not so big. Better to be alive and face the issues than to be dead and not have the opportunity to face them.
  • NJRide Now more than ever, the US needs a brand selling cheaper cars. I know the old adage that a "good used car" is the best affordable transportation, but there has to be someone willing to challenge the $45k average gas crossover or $60k electric one that has priced out many working and middle class people from the market. So I think Mitsu actually may be onto something. Call me crazy but I think if they came up with a decent sedan in the Civic space but maybe for $19-20k as opposed to $25 they might get some traction there's still some people who prefer a sedan.However, I just compared a Trailblazer on Edmunds to an Outlander Sport. Virtually same size, the Trailblazer has heated seats, keyless ignition and satellite radio and better fuel economy for almost same price as the Mitsu. Plus a fresher body and a normal dealer network. This has always been the challenge off brands have had. Mitsu probably would have to come in $2-3k less than the Chevy unless they can finance more readily to the subprime crowd.
  • MaintenanceCosts At least on the US West Coast, Waze is perfectly happy to send cut-through drivers down residential streets or to disregard peak-hour turn or travel restrictions. I hope if it's going to be standard equipment the company starts taking a more responsible approach.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm more curious about the effect (if any) on battery lifetime than range. Drawing current faster creates more heat and if that heat is not promptly drawn away it could affect life of the cells.I agree this sort of thing can make sense as a one-time option but is consumer-hostile as a subscription.