By on May 6, 2020

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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122 Comments on “QOTD: The Right Idea, the Wrong Execution?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Any car/truck/SUV that offers a “sport” option that is no more then stripes/badges/wheels, but offers zero engine/chassis upgrades to make it more “sporty”. Car companies have been doing this since the death of the muscle car and buyers seem to fall for faux-performance every time

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Easy. The Pontiac Aztek.

    It had the right idea, but was built on the wrong platform and the resulting compromises made it hideous and less useful than it could have been.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Interestingly the Buick Rendezvous built on the same platform sold like gangbusters by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      The Aztek concept car was based on an F-body platform.

      An F-Body Aztek with a full 350-hp LS would’ve been a whole lot better and a whole lot better looking.

      Heretical at the time but I think a performance crossover replacement for the Firebird would’ve been successful.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The initial Sigma I based SRX was intended to be a “driver’s” car, its uninspired transverse FWD Theta Premium replacement sold nearly double the previous model every year except 2004 where it only approached double. Every year.

        Proles didn’t want a Trans Am based minivan, if they did the Buick Rendezvous would have been a failure. Aztek likely failed for more for PR/marketing and styling reasons since it was the same U-body/60V6/4T65-E as the Rendezvous.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_SRX

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Aztek is on my list, which is:
      1. Plymouth Prowler
      2. Nissan Cube
      3. Pontiac Aztek
      4. The whole Scion brand

  • avatar
    dwford

    I’m going with the Dodge Caliber. Dodge correctly predicted that we were moving away from sleek hatchbacks to chunkier, AWD wagons. The Caliber came with 4 cylinder, AWD and even a CVT transmission. It failed and is generally known as a piece of junk. No sooner is the Caliber cancelled then Subaru comes out with the nearly identical Crosstrek – chunky styling , AWD, 4 cylinder, CVT. It becomes a huge hit.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparmann

      @dwford: You beat me to the punch, I came here to say the same! I had the opportunity to drive one for a while, and it was terrible, and the looks didn’t really help, either!

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        I had to move my sister’s a few times back in the day. Worst rear sight lines I’d ever experienced at the time… truly, a car ahead of it’s time!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, but Dodge sold a crap-ton of Calibers.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The only surviving Calibers I see now seem to have all been of the SRT-4 variety.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I still see a few around. My guess is that the CVT they put in them was designed to self-immolate.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            In my neighborhood, which had a bunch of Calibers about 8 years ago, they’ve nearly all been replaced by Jeep Patriots. Same size, same drivetrain. FCA can sell the next version of the Caliber/Patriot, with the same drivetrain, as long as somebody will finance sub-500 credit scores.

          • 0 avatar
            quaquaqua

            The Caliber sold “fine” but as a Neon replacement, it was a colossal failure. Don’t pretend it wasn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I was looking for this comment and you beat me to it. The Caliber was a brilliant idea and actually preceded most of the subcompact CUVs which are so popular right now.
      The styling may not be questionable nowadays (just look at the segment), but the whole powertrain selection and interior design was mediocre to say the least.
      It makes me wonder in what position Dodge would stand today if only the Caliber was better executed and had sold more units, the brand has sorely needed a Crossover for years…

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I was looking for this comment and you beat me to it. The Caliber was a brilliant idea and actually preceded most of the subcompact CUVs which are so popular right now.
      The styling may not be questionable nowadays (just look at the segment), but the whole powertrain selection and interior design was mediocre to say the least.
      It makes me wonder in what position Dodge would stand today if only the Caliber was better executed and had sold more units, the brand has sorely needed a Crossover for years…

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    AMC Eagle, although it was the fore-bearer of the crossover and although it’s execution was a bit clumsy, it was fine. Just 10 years before it’s time

    • 0 avatar
      karonetwentyc

      Speaking as a past owner of an ’82 AMC Eagle Wagon… Subaru beat AMC to the punch by two or three years. That said, the Eagle lineup was essentially an American version of what Subaru was producing at the time, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      I’ll still never understand how they managed to design and produce the thing with such a high cargo area floor, though. There were other places the fuel tank could have gone.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The Prowler coming with a V6 and auto only.

    Of all the products of the retro craze, it was by far the coolest, and would have been legendary if they had managed to put a V8 in.

    And yes, I know the Magnum/360 of the time wasn’t any more powerful than the V6. That isn’t really relevant to a car like the Prowler.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. Huge miss. Such a (potentially) cool car. Honestly, I can’t believe it was even made in the first place. Its awesome that corporate let it fly. Astounding that they let it fly with a V6 and an auto.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        The 3.5 V6 wasn’t the problem – it made more power than any non-LS/non-Cobra V8 from the Big 3 at the time – but a 4-speed automatic wasn’t even close to the right tool for the job and ruined the car.

        A World Class T5 would’ve been much more appropriate. A T56 with a 4.11:1 differential would’ve made the car nearly perfect for its image.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Apparently packaging was an issue for the LA V8’s in the Prowler, and would have absolutely cooked the occupants. Although, the Howler concept suggests that the 4.7 worked, but with the death of Plymouth and the Daimler side of things cutting all the good on the Chrysler side, it couldn’t live long enough to get go production.

      Alternatively, if Chrysler wrapped the mechanicals in something like the Pronto Spyder concept (I think that was the one) instead of a hot rod body, it’d probably be better remember.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Maybe not more powerful in horsepower with a Magnum V8, but it ha a lot more torque. Add a different cam and you have a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The 360 would have given better torque and sound but the iron construction would have hurt handling and the LS1 still would have shredded it.

      I’d still have done it with the 5.9L, but they really didn’t have anything ideal off the shelf.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Before I wrote this comment, I had forgotten how early the Prowler appeared and that it had no overlap with the Hemi. That was the right engine for it, it’s a shame the timing didn’t work out.

  • avatar
    Jon

    I nominate the second gen Dodge Durango. It was supposed to fill the need for a fullsize SUV that was not as large as the Tahoe but bigger than the Exploder. Unfortunately, it suffered from early 2000’s Chrysler electrical and trim build quality issues and a bouncy ride. Reliability wasn’t bad but wasn’t good enough to make up for its other shortfalls.

    The third gen Durango was a significant improvement and succeeded in making the Durango a major player in the large midsize SUV segment.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      How about the even worse Chrysler Aspen? Take all of the above, slap more gingerbread on it, and jack up the MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        “gingerbread” lol

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Yes, gingerbread is an architectural term for a gussied-up frame house.

          There’s a crying need for an automotive term to describe the extra fluff added to plain-jane cars to make them seem like luxury models.

          The term has to encompass everything from fake plastic wood and chrome to opera windows.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I really hated the second gen Durango. My GF had one, she got it in her divorce, he got the Ram 1500. I thought it looked needlessly ugly, and she couldn’t wait to get rid of it. She ended up buying whatever the last year of the 2006-? 300 C was. She just traded it on a Charger Scat Pack, solely for taking little kids places, she wanted a Challenger.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Gen 1 Fiero. Great idea, interesting styling, awful engine, suspension, and execution. The fact that they caught fire at the test track and GM still looked the other way was the icing on the cake.

    Tie: Mercury Capri (early 1990s) and Lotus Elan (early 1990s): At this point, the Miata was becoming the roadster standard. These two were compromised (the Mercury moreso) FWD roadsters trying to ride the wave. Where are they today?

    I’m going to throw the Neon on the pile as well. It was a clean sheet design, great interior room and looked very different and popular. However, cost cutting reared its ugly head. 3 speed automatic when the Japanese had 4 speeds? Power front windows but manual rear windows in all models? Interior plastics that wouldn’t be out of place on a cheap toy? Quality issues abound… It sold so well at first, but I have to believe the name was tarnished by Gen 2 and after that, gave us the Caliber (see dwford above).

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The original Fiero was sold to GM top brass as an economy car, since a Camaro/Firebird/Corvette fighter didn’t make sense.

      Of course when it was done, marketing pushed the “sports car” angle, priced it as such and consumers got burned with a sloppy Citation/Chevette part-bin mashup underneath a wedgie body.

  • avatar
    karonetwentyc

    The Subaru Baja.

    The Brat that preceded it was a really useful, capable, and fun vehicle. With enough bed length to carry a useful amount of cargo (or a couple of extra passengers), decent ground clearance with manually height-adjustable suspension, and a transfer case boasting an actual low range, they were an excellent super-compact dirt-and-pavement trucklet. No, you probably weren’t going to tow a 20-foot boat over a mountain pass with it, but for something that you could comfortably commute in during the week then take to the (milder) trails at the weekend, it was a great package. They were even fun to drive in the twisty bits.

    The Baja missed those points entirely. It literally was just an Outback with the cargo area transformed into a pickup bed, something that becomes even more obvious if you ever see one running around with a shell on the back. But the bed didn’t have the Brat’s capacity, being not quite long enough, and the removal of a fully-open cargo area further limited its utility. Transfer cases featuring a low range had disappeared from Subaru’s lineup by the time it debuted, and the 4-door body would have benefitted from the option of a 2-door extended-cab model with a longer bed. There were also no T-tops offered, which was blasphemy.

    Realistically, it would have made more sense to base it on the Impreza platform in order to keep it relatively light and nimble like its ancestor, but that’s neither here nor there. We got what Subaru delivered, and what they delivered didn’t quite hit the mark.

    Full disclosure: I am a three-time recidivist Brat owner, and have a deep love for them. I’ve also had other Subarus, as well as ones that have been in the family – such as the Outback that is contemporary with the Baja.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The biggest issue with the SC430 was that it was not the SC300/400.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I don’t get all the hate for the 2nd gen Durango, I had an ‘05 Durango SLT for a couple of years and I liked it. Sure it wasn’t as good looking as a Tahoe or Expedition at the time, and the interior was a little plasticky….but so were it’s competitors. The 5.7 had plenty of power, I had cranked up the front torsion bars a bit and mounted a set of 285/70/17 BFG ATs….it looked great and was decent off road. Only thing was when I sold it to pick up a new FJ Cruiser, depreciation was brutal.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      People tend to forget that the 2nd gen Durango was actually extremely well-received by the automotive press. If you fire up the archive machine you see it *winning* most comparison test.

      Same with the Grand Cherokee of that era.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    The original Chrysler Pacifica should have been a success, considering it’s basically exactly the sort of three row crossover that’s popular today. Instead, it was cheapened out, left to whither, and never properly replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The Toyota Venza had the identical concept – wagon with a tiny hint of crossover. It also failed. Both strayed too close to the hated wagon vibe.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        The Venza looked like a Camry Wagon. Thus I assumed it would catch on because it had enough CUV-ness to it. Apparently not. Way better execution then the Accord CrossTour which was beyond ugly yet foreshadow some of these BMW CUV “coupes”. Putting a sloping hatch on CUV steals so much interior space it makes little sense. On the flip side putting a liftback on a sloping sedan (like Telsa did) makes them more useful. Strange how that works huh?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree it was better executed than the Honda, but both ideas should have never made it off the drawing board as neither was good at its half-wagon/half fake SUV mission.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Honda and Toyota both thought at the time that people would go for separate “car-y” and “trucky” large crossover products. Instead, what people really wanted was right in the middle. Toyota finally nailed it with the 2014 Highlander and Honda followed shortly thereafter with the 2016 Pilot.

      • 0 avatar
        karonetwentyc

        True, but when Honda tried to go so very slightly more crossover-ish with the Accord Crosstour, that bombed as well.

        Both the Venza and Crosstour struck me as vehicles trying to carve out a niche for themselves, but it ended up being such a small one that they were bound to fail in the marketplace. One thing I will give the Pacifica credit for, however, is that it provided people on the fence about abandoning their minivans in favour of an SUV or crossover an interim vehicle to jump to while they made up their minds as to what it was that they really wanted.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      The shreiking Celine Dion TV ads for the Pacifica guaranteed that not a single male would even consider buying one.
      They were a slightly flattened minivan, which makes no sense at all, even to Celine Dion fans.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Every one of the medium to larger transverse mounted unibody “cross” overs are minivans without the sliding doors. Every one. What is sad today is the so called “males” somehow have become ignorant of it and literally *prefer* them over an actual SUV, truck, or sedan.

        Chrysler was right to use Dion as the target audience were females probably 30-50 of a certain income who had minivan needs but wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan and want to live in delusion about owning their “truck” that can’t actually drive like a truck, because that’s yucky. So, Karen.

        • 0 avatar
          teddyc73

          “so, Karen”? What about grammar? The “Karen” thing has already been grossly overplayed.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            There are more colorful words I and many other could use, Karen is a nice G-rated adjective (yes I realize it is a proper noun but its also become an adjective).

            ““so, Karen”? What about grammar?

            I capitalized the word “so”, your beef is… it is a fragment sentence?

          • 0 avatar
            spookiness

            “The “Karen” thing has already been grossly overplayed.”

            Ok boomer

      • 0 avatar
        teddyc73

        RHD, I had two Pacificas and I’m male. There goes your theory. It was a great car. But then my car purchases aren’t dissuaded by Celine Dion.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The MY04-MY08 Chrysler Pacifica while being a good idea, was poorly executed and probably too ahead of its time. I worked wholesale when these were new, early on many of them displayed electrical problems and other glitches which we chalked up to typical Chrysler of the period. The consensus at the time was the Daimler merger was to blame and product from both companies took a reliability hit. We know now Daimler in order to leverage economies of scale insisted on using the same parts and systems which were sold in Mercedes-Benz vehicles and in some cases those used from the Chrysler side on Mercedes offerings. Many of the joint venture projects didn’t go so well this being one of them.

          Given a decent amount of these things were sold for about three years (maybe 75K average) I seldom saw one after 2010 and probably not at all since 2015. One of the reasons may be because the subframes were not manufactured properly and rot, causing the motor to become misaligned. Evidently the problem was initially acknowledged by the new FCA in 2010 with a TSB and warranty extension which was later narrowed extensively in 2012 to models manufactured during a specific period. A class action suit was filed in 2015 but there do not appear to be any results.

          The Pacifica model and its Mercedes R-class cousin were not the pinnacle of quality, reliability or motoring in general. Their target demographic was likely accurate because these models do not do anything particularly well as I will demonstrate.

          They have the footprint of minivan but per consumerreports.com “Pacificas aren’t as roomy inside as their generous exterior dimensions suggest.” The Pacifica lacks the ease of sliding doors but this may be moot because again according to site the rear seats folded but could not be removed. Unless this model featured early stow-n-go, that means the cargo floor cannot be made flat and thus it would not be useful to move anything as an SUV or even minivan can do with removable seats.

          Granted I expect a transverse FWD powertrain this being on a modified minivan platform, but being an “SUV” impersonator it should be able to tow but I see its 3500lbs tow rating is 200lbs under that of it’s platform mate MY05 Chrysler Town and Country. Whereas the 2005 Dodge Durango on which this imitates boasts a max tow rating of 5,950lbs.

          So, a vehicle with a minivan footprint but lacking the space of one, the ability to remove seats of one, lacking the ease of sliding doors of one, having the tow rating of one, and with all of the disadvantages of a minivan’s transverse FWD platform without any benefits of an actual SUV. Oh and per Wikipedia: “The initial production models of the Pacifica gave the nameplate a bad reputation, due to poor mechanical reliability of the transmission and engine, liner and interior flaws, electrical glitches, and low build quality.[6] Furthermore, Chrysler was slow to react in fixing these problems”

          So they were junk off the line and I suppose eventually “fixed” save the motor falling out of a rotted engine cradle at some point. As to your purchasing motivations I cannot speculate.

          https://www.carcomplaints.com/news/2015/lawsuit-chrysler-pacifica-engine-cradle-rust.shtml

          http://www.chryslerproblems.com/cradle-rot/

          http://www.chryslerproblems.com/models/pacifica/

          https://consumerguide.com/used/2004-08-chrysler-pacifica/

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You can blame Daimler for that. The first ones had some Mercedes features, but when they didn’t sell in big numbers, and at a premium, Daimler stripped it of the extras.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Kudos to Lexus (and Toyota with the Camry Solara) for trying to carry the PLC banner. They were nice cars, but I always found the proportions a bit ungainly.

    In my mind the last generation GM U-Body minivans (Uplander/Montana SV6/Relay/Terraza) was the right idea with the wrong execution. Putting side that the entire lineup is the perfect example of badge engineering taken to its most pathetic extreme, I understand their goal was to give their minivan proportions more akin to an SUV. In practice they married an SUV-ish front end to the existing Venture/Montana hindquarters, added Saturn and Buick versions in a desperate volume grab, and shipped it. The result was neither pretty or effective.

  • avatar
    ajla

    ’11 to ’17 Regal GS : Wish it offered the 2.8L V6.
    BRZ/FRS/86 : Wish it offered about 70 more hp and better power delivery.
    New Alfa Giulia : Wish it offered an intermediate non 4-cylinder engine.
    Basically every RWD Cadillac sedan since 1996 : Wish it offered a V8 without needing to go full V-series.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      BRZ/86 I still say 250/250 would have been perfectly adequate and a small turbo from the factory to do so would have eliminated the “dip” in the torque curve between 3000-4000 RPM

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      That turbo 2.8 was a dumpster fire, both for reliability and drivability. IMO the cars would have been best with the NA 3.6 in revvy ~320-hp trim.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The RWD Regal was better than any FWD Regal made since. When they went to FWD they should have retired the name Regal. I’d still have my ’83 if they weren’t so easy to steal and strip.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The Solara convertible had the rigidity of a politicians spine.

  • avatar
    eCurmudgeon

    “sold almost exclusively to real estate agents over the age of 55”

    The joke for years was that the only people ever seen driving a SC430 were either someone’s trophy wife or mistress.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The Isuzu Vehicross comes to mind. Bubble shape? Check! Massive plastic wheel arches? Check! Terrible visibility? Check! All its missing is a turbo engine and 2nd set of doors to turn it into a modern, popular CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      karonetwentyc

      Possibly, but underneath it was basically another Isuzu Trooper-platform variant, which makes it fairly robust and capable.

      Besides, Isuzu intended it to be a low-volume-run model from the start. Think of it as a styling exercise that could actually be purchased (for a couple of years) and that’s about what it ended up being.

  • avatar
    justVUEit

    Cadillac ATS.

    Reliability issues, generic mills rather than Cadillac exclusive, no manual tranny on some of the upper trims/engines.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I think Jack Baruth had the right idea. The ATS should have come standard with the naturally aspirated GM 5.3 V8. Take it straight out of the pickup trucks, do the minimum needed from an emissions standard if need be, and then advertise the crap out of a Cadillac with a standard V8.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The ATS was such a big letdown. I was really excited for it and I could live with the tight interior packaging, but driving them left me underwhelmed. The 2.0T wasn’t *slow* but it wasn’t fast either and it ended up feeling like a Jetta GLI competitor more than a premium car. The V6 was a little better in that regard and I preferred its power delivery, but it still didn’t feel “powerful” and GM put the six-cylinder option behind a huge paywall. For the price GM wanted, it really needed a V8. And better interior materials.

    • 0 avatar
      readallover

      Right car, wrong reason. How GM was able to take a car this size and give it the interior room of a Smart car is beyond me. I felt cramped in the car when I was alone and the back seat was unusable.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The SC430 compared to the SC300/400 was poorly executed but for its target demographic it was spot on. The model was developed in 1997 based on the Côte d’Azur region of France, and its lines were heavily influenced by the area’s architecture and yachts. What Wikipedia does not say, is the demographic was that of the Mercedes SLK, namely wives, girlfriends, and mistresses of rich men. Whereas its predecessor had Supra roots which were later brought out by second and third owners, this model was never intended to be a grand tourer and in its mission of being one of the only hardtop convertibles you could comfortably own out of warranty, it succeeded.

    Try to buy one now, I dare you. You’d think these things are made of gold they are so expensive.

    Here is a *much better* example of Lexus’ right idea with poor execution: the short lived (in USDM) HS 250h.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexus_HS

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Chrysler Aspen.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Durango#Chrysler_Aspen

  • avatar
    volvo

    BMW Z3 coupe. I don’t know about driving/reliability but its’ Aztec level of ugly was appreciated on both sides of the pond.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Wrong

      • 0 avatar
        volvo

        Well Art beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say and I have not owned a BMW since my 2002.

        I really did not like the look of the Z3 and that opinion was shared by many others. Enough that the car got a nickname. Personally I don’t like the “shooting-brake” style

        Here is a quote from BMWblog 6/19/2017

        “While an incredible driving car, the BMW Z3 Coupe was not a very good looking car. And that’s being polite. It was a funky looking little car that got the nickname of “Clownshoe”, due to its odd proportions. ”

        https://www.bmwblog.com/2017/06/19/original-bmw-z3-coupe-look-like-todays-design-language/

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      I second the wrong. The Z3 coupe is to styling as Neil Young is to singing, but both are nonetheless classics. Would love to find a Z3 M coupe with the S54 mill. But $.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’m going with a practical ride. I think the Venza could have seriously eaten into the Outback sales if they stuck with it, but I’m sure the C suite guys wanted to force Toyota loyalists into more expensive Highlanders.
    I think a little more aggressive styling and more insulation would have made a big difference. The big V6 , 6spd auto combination is a better powertrain combo than of the competitors at the time.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The SC has grown on me immensely over the years to the point that would consider one. It’s basically like putting cash under your mattress since they absolutely refuse to depreciate.
    I’d definitely have a hard time saying no to one with black interior which is super hard to find. And I think you could find them with red seats too, which is my biggest weakness. I love me some red seats.

    • 0 avatar

      The red seats were Pebble Beach Edition only. Good luck.

    • 0 avatar
      denvertsxer

      A friend’s father somehow managed to purchase three of the Nieman-Marcus Christmas SCs with the red seats — one each for his wife and two daughters. None of the three particularly enjoyed driving them. I drove my friend’s a few times and did not care much for it either, though I do love me some red seats as well, Land Ark. Especially for its apparent market of real estate agents over 55, it was incredibly harsh, mostly due to the large run-flat tires, I suspect. One did get a lot of attention while driving it, though. And, yes, my friend’s dad had more money than sense.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The Chevrolet HHR is a good example of GM sort of trying to adapt and do the right things, and failing miserably.

    Lived with one for several days during a collision repair. Packaging was terrible, driving dynamics terrible. Have never been so happy to get my own car back.

    Had forgotten that U.S. sales were over 100K some years:
    https://tinyurl.com/HHR-Sales

    But then again, with ~3,000 Chevy dealers (at the time) and forced allocation, you’re *going* to sell some of whatever you produce…

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Still have some desire for an HHR sedan delivery or panel truck with the SS drivetrain that was offered. Just for the silliness of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddie

      I was very happy with my HHR SS, had it for nine years, 120K miles.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Freddie, no disrespect to your HHR SS. Completely different powertrain and suspension; I could certainly see the appeal. GM’s later-in-the-life special-edition-upper-trim models can feel like a completely different vehicle (and this was at least as true with Bob Lutz in charge). ‘Mine’ was an early model rental stripper.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Riffing off what the gentlemen are talking about above with the ATS and V8, I would submit that the 2020 Camaro LT1 is the right idea with stupid timing.

    Take the “base” Camaro – stick the 6.2 V8 in it, keep all season tires on it, offer a few options. Might be the cheapest way to get that big honkin’ V8 in a brand new vehicle.

    Problem? They have cancelled the development program for the next gen Camaro and there’s kind of a death pall hanging over the whole model. Oh and the fact that due to the Camaro being slow selling you can still find 2019 SS models out there with the same engine and dealers are largely willing to deal.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      All of the dumb (small pony car, but you cannot see anything from inside of it) and “Alpha” limitations baked in are not helping, but it and a handful of other models are the last vestiges of GM and it seems when they slip, they are simply toast.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Mary’s MO seems to be that if something is not selling or not meeting expectations there’s no “analysis” – let’s see what we could do better to “fix” it or “we have to have a competitor in that category” – just kill it.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There has been no vehicle that I simultaneously love and hate as much as the V8 Zeta and Alpha Camaros.
      Heck, within the Alpha gen the V6 is pretty legit too.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Hopping in the WABAC machine. In the 1980’s the Big Three would announce this new vehicle is our true (Japanese) import fighter! No, they weren’t. People gladly paid more than MSRP at their local Toyota/Honda dealer. The “import fighters” were the ultimate right idea, wrong execution. Sadly, Detroit could’ve done better if the bean counters had listened to the engineers. Oh and the Japanese Voluntary Quota agreement was an example of right idea, wrong execution. The Japanese just sold us upper trim levels for more money.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      May have been too late by 1990, but embracing Saturn as a wholesale replacement of J-body and making it *the* small car throughout C-P-C and Buick/Olds could have maybe worked.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @ 28-Cars-Later. I had an SL-1 in grad school, gas mileage was much better than my F-250 work truck. IMHO, the original Saturns was equal to Toyota/Honda in build quality and durability. My SL-1 was given to a family member and finally died at 255,000 miles. Roger Smith actually got something right. Sadly, Saturn got folded, spindled, and mutilated into just another division of GM. They were so very close; cheap, dependable, and killer customer service for their vehicles. I haven’t been snorting unicorn farts, they were also bog slow and their seats would cause physical pain after about two hours.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          S-series was OK (not perfect).

          I drove an L-series for a few days – it felt like the front of the car and the back of the car were two different vehicles tied together with bungee cord.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I believe the L-series was in part as such. The rear was all part of the Opel designed unibody but the front quarter-panels and I believe hood were made of the Saturn dent resident plastic. IIRC one of the problems with them was the Saturn panels did not rust but the rear wheel-wells liked to rot and doomed a lot of them to fail safety checks.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Issue with the L-series as well is that the 3.0 V6 tended to be a little trouble prone, especially without lots of preventative maintenance, the 4 cyl would run forever but were low on power and had very cheap interiors.

            I see them lots here in the Southwest due to the lack of rust but they are almost always the 4 cyl models.

            Speaking of Saturn my wagon madness dawned at a young age and I had much desire for the SW2 Saturns with the DOHC and manual transmission. Unfortunately by the time the little wagons were out of production I was still deeply in debt from my college years.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I just saw one two days ago, a crew of my guess < 21 guys were paving a small parking lot and it was parked with the rear hatch open and something in the back (I assume the asphalt they were using). Looked clean for the 7-10 seconds I saw it, I thought that would not be a back pickup in I4 form in even average condition.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Because it was sourced from Opel, The Saturn L series ran the Ellesmere Port 3.0 V6 (as did Catera). That motor is tied with The Engine Who Shall Not Be Named in terms of evil and explains why they no longer exist.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_54°_V6_engine#L81

  • avatar
    1500cc

    2020 C8. Finally gets the mid-engine layout and all the potential that it promises. Then makes it automatic only.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    The Aztek concept car was based on an F-body platform.

    An F-Body Aztek with a full 350-hp LS would’ve been a whole lot better and a whole lot better looking.

    Heretical at the time but I think a performance crossover replacement for the Firebird would’ve been successful.

  • avatar
    cardave5150

    The former Detroit Three have so many to offer up. Here’s the way they worked it: produce a half-a$$ new vehicle, then abandon the segment because their response is “the segment is dying, it’s not that we were trying to sell a bag of crap.”

    1. Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Avenger twins – worst of the DaimlerChrysler days. Crappy Mitsu platform loaded up with awkward design and low-grade materials.

    2. final-generation Dodge Durango – grew too big, way too thirsty, way too low-grade materials.

    3. Current-gen Camaro – take the worst of the previous gen (sightlines) and exaggerate them in a package so similar to the old one, few could tell it was new. Meanwhile, Challenger sales embarass Chevy…..

    4. final-gen Thunderbird – retro-looks gone bad. A miserable driving car, cheap interior, and way too expensive.

    5. Chevy SSR – 2-seat pickup with retro-looks and big, fun V-8 – what could go wrong???

    6. final-gen Taurus – let’s take a big car, and make it feel small inside by giving the console more space up front than the driver.

    7. final-gen Cruze – the first-gen Cruze was a fantastic quality car, showing that GM had finally gotten it right. The follow-up was cheap, tinny, awkward-looking. Didn’t sell, so let’s do CUV’s!!!

    8. Jeep Commander – 3-row SUV’s sold like crazy, except for this poorly-executed one.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The 2005-2013 Acura RL. A sport/luxury sedan with SH-AWD and a J35 was exactly the right idea. But Honda screwed up several aspects of the execution, and then overpriced the result. They’re still great to drive to this day, but they have too little back seat room, too fiddly infotainment controls, and not quite enough styling-wise to distinguish them from cheaper Honda/Acura sedans.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed on RL. And they doubled down on the problems with the RLX, which is a complete mess.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The FWD RLX took away everything that was interesting about the RL. It was a value luxury sedan, i.e., Lexus ES competitor, but priced like a 5-Series.

        The hybrid RLX is a fascinating car, but was staggeringly expensive, and honestly I think the last RL is better suited to the mission.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Teslas. All of them. The basic concept is brilliant. So is most of the basic engineering. Most of the actual execution leaves a LOT to be desired.

  • avatar
    DM335

    The reborn 2002-2005 Thunderbird would get my vote. Demand was incredible for the first few months, but once the senior citizens searching for their youth bought theirs, the car flopped. Take all of the reasons that the SC430 fizzled, then add poor quality and clunky design. Among its many sins was black-painted styrofoam behind the grill.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This is a good example, a great idea bringing back the Thunderbird at the height of the retro craze, but a terrible car in every possible way

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Tundra and Titan. The Big 3 make it look deceptively easy, and I don’t believe “loyal” buyers are truly that in love to Big 3 pickups. As it sits, what “choice” do they really have?

    Fleets only care about the numbers, as with most buyers.

    For Toyota and Nissan to actually compete in the segment, their way of doing business would be turned upside down. They would need to roll out the red carpet for fleets and special orders, endless combinations, up to 100 sell-days, and of course up to 25% rebates/incentives.

    They started with the right idea/concept and no the trucks don’t intentionally suck. The trucks themselves aren’t that far off the mark. but it’s Toyota and Nissan heads that don’t have the stomach for it.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ Denver Mike Imagine one night at some bar outside Toyota City, the head Toyota Truck Guy says, “Screw it! 25-30K off every Tundra! We can afford it! Can Ford, GM, and Ram? We’ll see.” While truck buyers are a loyal lot, they are also (cheap) practical. Seriously, what if Toyota went after Detroit’s cash cows?

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        50% OFF would eat into a lot of segments besides Detroit’s cash cows, including Toyota’s own cash cows. Toyota couldn’t build enough of them.

        Except there’s really or realistically nothing Toyota can do to successfully damage Detroit’s cash cows, short of flooding the market with Tundras, up to a million a year, equally discounted or greater.

        Not just with equal selection of engines, axle ratios, trim, packages, options, etc, but also the ability to opt out of options just the same, and basically spec out a one-of-a-kind, “custom” pickup at will.

        That kind of loss would be seriously tough even for Toyota to take, except with absolutely no guarantee of monetary success.

        You should know, Big 3 pickups aren’t deeply discounted to corner the market and edge out Toyota and Nissan. Dealers stack them deep for impulse buyers that may “cool off” if they have to order their preferences. Or they could drift over to another dealer or brand that would better satisfy.

        That means a great lot of them sit on lots for around a 100 days. Dealers order them with their best guess on what shoppers want/need/lust after.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I would imagine El scotto that they would notify legislators that Toyota is dumping.

        Additionally, Toyota doesn’t have the production capacity to sustain such a stunt for long. With them retooling for the new model I doubt they’d want to sell every copy they can make at a loss.

        Ford could return the favor and say, you know, let’s keep the Fusion around bet sell it for 10-15 grand and see how loyal those Camry buyers are.

        Of course, both strategies are losers for their respective companies.

        The elephant would be “What if Ford or VW heavily subsidize EV leases to where Teslas aren’t price competitive.

  • avatar
    Freddie

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

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

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

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ 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?”

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