QOTD: Alternative History of Missed Automotive Opportunities?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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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.

  • Jonathan IMO the hatchback sedans like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Kia Stinger, and the already gone Buick Sportback are the answer to SUVs. The A5 and the AWD version of the Stinger being the better overall option IMO. I drive the A5, and love the depth and size of the trunk space as well as the low lift over. I've yet to find anything I need to carry that I can't, although I admit I don't carry things like drywall, building materials, etc. However, add in the fun to drive handling characteristics, there's almost no SUV that compares.
  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars