QOTD: The Right Idea, the Wrong Execution?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd the right idea the wrong execution

Today’s QOTD is about past vehicles that just weren’t quite right. Perhaps a manufacturer intended to make the sort of vehicle you might actually want in your driveway. And they got the styling just right, but the materials and build quality were terrible? Maybe the mechanics and trim were just right, but the end vehicle was so hideous you had to look away in horror? Let’s talk about the multiple times OEMs ended up with a proverbial fly in the product ointment.

My pick today sticks out as a shining beacon amongst a sea of selection. An excellent example of a collection of great ingredients put together in a misguided way. Then it was all wrapped in a metallic dog turd and sold almost exclusively to real estate agents over the age of 55.

Yeah. I’ve picked on the Lexus SC 430 before, but I’m doing it again today. The premise Lexus had was not problematic: A V8, rear-drive luxury coupe as successor to the company’s aged, Supra-based SC 300 and 400 coupes. While the original SC was long in the tooth by the time of its death in 2000, its design and mechanical combination were fundamentally good. Inline-six and V8 engines were paired to manual and automatic transmissions through most of its run (the manual died in 1997). A sporty and well-made package, one might think a similar concept and execution should occur for the second-generation SC, as well. But no…

Lexus unveiled its new Sport Coupe concept (which was a convertible) at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. Since a Supra basis was no longer possible, the SC and its Japanese twin the Toyota Soarer carried on as a singular car on a new platform. Perhaps sensing the new SC convertible would disappoint the first generation’s customer base, Lexus downplayed the performance angle of the new SC. Per the VP of Lexus at the time, “This is not going to be a Corvette, where you take it out and really fly; it’s not meant to be. This is not a high-performance, boy-racer type of car.”

In the same speech, the same man claimed Lexus planned to bring more emotion to the lineup and focus on the less rational reasons customers might buy a Lexus.

Presumably by removing the fun and performance angle from the new SC 430, Lexus could enjoy many more of those emotionally-driven, non-rational customers who want to drive slowly around Florida. Right. The SC was a great example of all the right ingredients, combined and cooked very incorrectly. Sadly, they boiled their prime aged steak, then added some mustard.

Off to you. What’s your pick for poor execution?

[Images: Dodge, Lexus]

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  • Freddie Freddie on May 06, 2020

    I was looking forward to the Dodge Dart - it was supposed to be a bargain Alpha.

  • AoLetsGo AoLetsGo on May 06, 2020

    Lincoln Blackwood. Ford's miserable answer to the Escalade EXT. Rear wheel drive only and limited options spelled doom after a very short run.

    • El scotto El scotto on May 06, 2020

      @ ALG Not the marketing departments finest moment. They might as well named a model targeted at old, rich, somewhat fat, white guys "Calvin Klein underwear model." or Overheard at the country club, "Hey Stan, your wife's driving a Marky-Mark?"

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).