QOTD: Trucking Awful Nineties Design From America?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

We spent the last three Wednesday editions of Question of the Day discussing the awesomeness which was Nineties truck and SUV design from America, Europe, and Asia. Now we’ll flip things around, and bring a critical eye to designs which didn’t age so well.

The rules of the game are probably seared into memory by now, but we’ll state them anyway:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a domestic manufacturer, even if sourced from an import (eg. Dodge Ram 50).
  3. The only eligible body styles are trucks and SUVs.

And the display of today’s dated design brings your author no joy. No joy at all — in fact I kind of like it.

“Hey, that Blazer looks funny,” was surely someone’s first thought circa 1991. And the funny looks were down to the small details which made up the unfortunately styled Oldsmobile Bravada. The Bravada’s origins lie in the GMT330 platform, which debuted in 1982. At that time the smaller S-10 Blazer and S-15 Jimmy represented new midsize entries into the growing SUV market.

By 1991, the designs were matured, assisted by periodic visual updates to keep things fresh. And that year was an interesting one for the Blazer family and its cousins. Most importantly, the first four-door versions of the GMT330s arrived (Hey, the Explorer was coming). It was also the last year the S-10 and -15 names were used in conjunction with Blazer and Jimmy.

Bravada was the first SUV offering from the Oldsmobile brand, and to make the considerably higher asking price seem worth it, all Bravadas were blessed with the largest 4.3-liter Vortec V6 engine and “Smart-Trak” all-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive was permanent, unlike its siblings’ 4×4 systems. Outside, painted bumpers, gold badges (usually) and a different front end treatment displayed the owner’s prestige and personal brand. The interior was also made more upscale than its siblings, and featured a unique wave-like center console surrounded by low-quality ruched leather.

But the late introduction and unique components are what made the Bravada a bad moment in styling. It looked different enough to stand out, but was clearly a rebadge trying to be more luxurious than it was. The limited run of the first generation (1991-1994) meant fewer on the roads, and they looked old by the dawn of the second generation in 1996. Bravada also broke down more, because the all-wheel drive system was less robust than 4×4. It just didn’t work out for the first Bravada.

Let’s hear your selections for those poorly aged trucks and SUVs.

[Images: Oldsmobile]

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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2 of 59 comments
  • Corey, the GMC Jimmy lost the S-15 prefix for 1992 but the "S-10 Blazer" continued until the redesign for the 1995 model year. Reason being, Chevy's redesigned fullsize SUV also kept its Blazer moniker until it was rechristened Tahoe for 1995, while GMC adopted the Yukon brand for its largest SUV in 1992.

  • AdamOfAus AdamOfAus on Jul 06, 2019

    ZJ was an odd photo to use for this article... Arguably my favourite JGC.

  • 3-On-The-Tree To say your people are total monsters is an unfair statement. You can judge the Japanese government but to say the citizens are culpable or responsible is wrong. That’s like saying every Caucasian person in the U.S is responsible for slavery or the civil rights era of violence and discrimination against African Americans and are benefiting from it. That’s 79 years ago, the average Japanese citizen born during WWII has nothing to do with what happened. Even my Japanese grandmother who was living in Yokohama whose home was firebombed was just trying to survive with 3 kids and a husband fighting in the war. Just like every war the citizens suffer, I saw it in Iraq. You can’t judge the people from the misdeeds of their government, my mom was born after the war, you really think she is responsible for what happened?
  • Irvingklaws Was a must have for my wife's new car. After years of windshield mounts, trying to keep the sun off the phone, wires running across the dash, etc...it's been a welcome upgrade. Don't have it in my current (old) car, just a stock stereo with the aforementioned windshield phone mount and wires...which is fine enough for me. But if I upgrade the radio with an aftermarket unit, the first thing I'm looking for, after separate volume and tuning KNOBS, is Carplay. Note, I've yet to find an aftermarket head unit meeting these basic qualifications. The infotainment in my '17 GTI had both of these and was near perfect, I'd be happy with that unit in any car.
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  • Wolfwagen If there is no Rust or rot this would be a good buy when MB craftsmanship and engineering meant something. While I prefer the 500 or 560 for the larger engine, this is good
  • Wolfwagen Tim, Now you should ask the B&B who we want to succeed and why. You could limit it to EV or non- North American MFGs.