By on August 20, 2020

Whoa, whoooaaaa, easy there. Take a breath — especially you, writers and alumns of a particular blog. In no way is that headline referring to anything political.

You’ll see.

Today, we revisit the past. And also today, we arrive at our destination with the ability to change the future. Like Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone, we hold in our hands the power to alter the course of history.

Wait, hold on. There’s a political subplot in The Dead Zone.

Scratch that.

We, and by that we mean you, have arrived at a date of your choosing. You’ll discover you have the newfound ability to keep something alive for four extra years — enough time to create new memories, new experiences… new products. Thing is, this wondrous power only works on dead automakers or automotive brands.

Yes, you can only use this power to extend the lifespan of a marque that bit the dust. Went belly-up. Bought the farm. That power you hold might, in fact, just be a duffel bag of cash or gold bullion — just enough to grease enough palms, cover the necessary operational costs, and keep the party going for another four years.

When automotive brands die, the mind quickly turns from what was to what might have been, had the company managed to soldier on with a modest amount of money to work with. Had their balance sheets tipped back into black, where would Packard or Studebaker have been in 1961 and 1970, respectively? If General Motors hadn’t suffered a near knockout blow from the Great Recession, what would Hummer have had on the market in 2014?

Pontiac? Saturn?

What final creation could Oldsmobile or Plymouth have cobbled together if given a reprieve? Alas, this is not for us to know, but it’s very much up to you to decide which automaker gets the chance. Which brand gets a temporary detour from the pearly gates, and what product would you like to see roll through those factory gates?

[Image: General Motors]

 

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55 Comments on “QOTD: Four More Years?...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    If anything I would have killed an additional brand, Fiat, and poured that effort into into Chrysler. I’m sure if you took all the Fiat products and changed nothing but the badges (and maybe some styling cues) they would have sold better under an established brand. Even the Fiata could have been a rebirth of the Crossfire, though I suspect it would have done better as a baby Viper (Copperhead?) under the Dodge umbrella.

    If I am forced to keep a brand alive, it would be Mercury. Make Lincoln a proper luxury brand and keep Mercury as a sporty/premium product slotted between Lincoln and Ford, the way God intended. Maybe even give them a new Cougar based on the Mustang platform.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Saab. Face it; even a reborn Mercury would barely disguise Ford products as they did at the end, and the same would have been true of Oldsmobile and Pontiac. Saab would have at least had unique products, had the company been sold to Scania rather than stayed a GM brand.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Scania being part of VW group it would’ve been yet another platform engineered VW.

      SniffPetrol alluded to the Octavia being the perfect basis for the next 9-3 (and indeed the Superb could be a 9-5…)

      https://sniffpetrol.com/2018/05/02/good-news-for-saab-enthusiasts/

  • avatar
    snorlax

    With hindsight, I would try to reinvent Saturn as an electric vehicle brand.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    I would really liked to have seen a 2nd gen Solstice/Sky. Awesome in concept, they could have been really great and been a true Miata competitor with a bit more effort. But instead they turned out to be a parts-bin combobulation with a typical garbage GM interior that was hard to live with on a daily basis.

    The Sky/Solstice were the Fiero of the 2000s. Fight me.

    (Full disclosure: I have owned two generations of Miata and also a Sky Redline)

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      The Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky were designed by Franz von Holzhausen. After leaving GM he went to Mazda for awhile. I’m not sure if he ever designed any vehicles after that.

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        Well, he designed a Tesla. Then Elon sent the design to the photocopier, pressing ‘Shrink’ or ‘Embiggen’ or ‘Give it stupid doors’. Copier broke when designing the Cybertruck, so Elon looked for a ruler… cheaper than fixing the copier.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The Depression finally got to Duesenberg in 1937.

    If they could have held on four more years they might have survived with war contracts, then sold well in the post-war boom, and we might have had an American Rolls Royce competitor to this day.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I’m not sure post WWII wanted an “American Rolls Royce” otherwise Packard would have done better

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Ford’s Continental division as well.

        “As the most expensive American-produced automobile of the time, the Mark II was marketed against the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.[”

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

        I think Cadillac sort-of filled this role… until it sucked.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Yes we have had that discussion. During the 1950s till at around the downsizing of the late 1970s Cadillacs and Lincolns were quite often superior to Rolls-Royces in numerous ways/categories.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Easy, Studebaker Avanti. Although it was only in production from June 1962 through 1963, it was one of the most stylish and revolutionary cars of it’s time. The fastest production car in the world upon its introduction, a completely stock Avanti could reach over 178 mph with its supercharged 289 V8. Raymond Loewy really out did himself with this beauty. As a little kid I remember being blown away with this, the Corvette Stingray and Buick Riviera. To me, 1963 was the most exciting automotive year of my youth

    Although the name has been revived several times nothing came close to the original. Four more years would have been great :)

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e7/03/c5/e703c55b66b4088be556ba5ed7fc8daa.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      I second the Avanti. And, here’s the thing: Four more years of a properly funded Studebaker would probably have proven fruitful.

      That’s because it had occurred to the company that changing its stodgy name and brand to Avanti might be a good idea. What’s more, there were designs for an updated Avanti coupe – and even Avanti sedans – on the drawing boards.

      And apparently, Studebaker might have ended up building Datsuns in this country as well. Alas, none of it was meant to be.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ Lie2Me Imagine if Studebaker had four more years and really started working their distributorship of those goofy German cars.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Merge Hummer and GMC into a single Jeep/SUV focused competitor. Hindsight being 20/20 this seems obvious now.

  • avatar
    karonetwentyc

    Rover.

    Kill the Cityrover, Streetwise, 25, and 45. Concentrate on building true competitors to BMW’s 3- and 5-series cars. Start work on a 7-series-sized flagship to arrive at a later date, ditto an SUV not part of the Land-Rover lineup.

    Adjunct to this, MG dies until such time as a proper sports car can be developed for them.

    Of course, given the sometimes-bizarre ways in which history repeats itself, it may culminate in a third attempt at taking on the North American market. Naturally, this attempt would end in abject failure and Rover would die anyway. But at least its last four years could have been ones to be proud of.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    GM and Chrysler were already headed for the bottom of the ocean long before the economy crashed, already losing billions more than they were making every quarter.

    Their corporate structure was no different than it was in the ’50s.

    It would’ve been more of the same, 4 years later, if they somehow found the funding.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Pontiac, with new/revised GTO and Fiero.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Pontiac because that means the G8 ST would have been sold.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    The GM brand culling may have been involuntary, but it was necessary. Too many brands doing the exact same thing. And here we are in 2020 and GM continues to trend back to their old ways. Buick and GMC, which were combined in the interest of product diversity, are now back to carrying much of the same products wearing different sheet metal, with more overlap on the way if reports are accurate.

    If I had the power to do a “what coulda been” scenario, I’d like to see where Saab would be today if GM hadn’t decimated the brand. I never owned a Saab, but I appreciated their quirkiness, and always felt I’d have one sooner or later. What cool weirdness would they doing today if not for GM?

  • avatar
    hondaaustin

    4-more years of the intended spirit of Oldsmobile! I don’t want another rebadged Chevrolet… nay, I want the engineering division to do some engineering. If Oldsmobile were allowed to survive and get back to their roots we may have seen/continue to see some exciting engineering come out of Detroit. Better engines, better handling, better CARS!

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      I believe the year you are looking for is 1984:

      https://tinyurl.com/AN-Reorganization

      “Each vehicle division — Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and GMC — had functioned as a self-contained business, with departments for purchasing, engineering, advertising and sales. Fisher Body and GM Assembly Division provided bodies and assembly functions for all divisions.”

      (‘Oldsmobile engineering’ turned into ‘GM engineering’ after 1984.)

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Datsun

    My personal preference is Datsun branding over Nissan. 280z is the vehicle that deserved 4 more years. 1975-1978 is a life cut short for the 280z.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I’d second the 280-Z. And I think Datsun lost their way when they thought they could replace the ‘real’ 510(1968-1973)with the gaudy 610.’Gaud’No! The proof? All the 610s only eventually found a home at the recycler. 510s today in good shape are almost worth as much as the original Broncos. If you can find the rare ’73 510, you’ll need to use a crowbar on an owners mitts to separate them from his set of keys, and have a wallet filled with unobtainium.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      The loss of Datsun was indeed unfortunate and a Nissan corporate politics at its finest.

      You have a man, Yutaka Katayama (Mr. K) who after being assigned to the US operation built up the US dealership network from the ground up, researched the US consumer needs and forced the reluctant HQ to build such cars (incl. 510 and 240z), and at one point made Datsun the best selling import brand in the US.

      Unfortunately, this angered the then Nissan CEO Ishikawa for taking the glory from “his” man. Katayama was forced back to Japan in 1977 to an early retirement, and one of the first things Ishikawa did afterwards was to kill off the Datsun brand that Mr. K made so popular.

      So yeah… nothing has changed at Nissan.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Thanks for those historical references. Yes Datsun was a major force in North American car sales when Honda was still a footnote.

        • 0 avatar
          Varezhka

          … and I meant to say Ishihara, not Ishikawa

          but anyways, yeah. Datsun/Nissan was one of the first Japanese automakers to get the pulse of the US market. They unfortunately threw it all away in the internal politics as usual.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      On the note of Nissan, I’d also nominate Prince Motor Company that was forced into merger with Nissan (under a govt. directive). They were the source of many of Nissan’s engineering excellence, so I’d love to see what they’d done if they were allowed to live.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Oldsmobile. I would love to see a modern day Aurora.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      The old man managed to keep his 1999 Aurora for ~18 years and 120k miles on it. He loved that car and got nervous the few times I had to borrow it when my car was in the shop.

      “Uh, dad, I could get you another one for $2500 in Craigslist”

      It was still a smooth riding car in the old GM sort of way; no major issues either (to my surprise!).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Somehow the Aurora 4.0 was the Northstar that worked.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          Agree on Oldsmobile. An updated Intrigue with a Bob Lutz interior and improved Gen II Shortstar 3.5. An updated Aurora and Alero with the better 3500 replacing the 3400 V6 in the former and maybe a lux version of the Solstice/Sky. An Alero SC with the 2.0 DI turbo would have been interesting too.

          • 0 avatar

            I do not know. When I came to USA I was shocked by low build quality of Intrigue and Alero and ancient pushrods GM still used in its cars. In Russia I got used to German and Japanese cars.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      This will sound dumb, but I’d like to see an updated LSS.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    IH Light Line

    Scout, Travelall, Pickup

    RIP SUV’s and pickups only. IH had the right idea and was unfortunate to exist in the wrong era to take advantage of urelenting thirst for SUV and pickups.

    IH Light Line deserves a rebirth.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Scout Business Unit managment actually predicted the SUV boom, and the rise of the luxury SUV based partially on the fact that it wasn’t uncommon for a Scout with the Midas conversion to sell for more than a loaded Cadillac and the outragous prices Monetiverdi was able to get for the customized versions they sold.

      If they would have let them go another 4 years they could have made it long term, especially if they let them make the Scout a full line vehicle as they proposed.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    I’d have liked to give 4 extra years to AMC but I’m not sure it would have made any difference. With such extra cash, the Grand Cherokee may have reached the market 2 or 3 years in advance as well as having a 2nd gen Eagle Wagon to have a lead on the not-released-yet Legacy Outback. The Eagle Premier would have actually been the AMC Premier and we could have had a bunch of interesting successors based on the succeeding LH platform.

    On the other hand I still think about Pontiac and I believe a Zeta based Firebird/Trans Am, new gen Solstice, G8 and a new Torrent CUV based on the 2nd gen Equinox would have actually given the brand more than 4 years of extended life. Such lineup would’ve been different enough from other GM brands to prove interesting to prospect buyers

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    +2 for the Datsun brand nomination.

    Datsun was synonimous with Japanese cars of the era: low cost and with some exceptions low frills, but nevertheless exceptionally well built and thrifty.

    From the nostalgia perspective? DeSoto.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Which leads one to muse what if Edsel continued for a few more years. The Mercury Comet was designed to be the entry level Edsel compact. The continuation of a two-seat T-bird like car. They would have been the mid market brand in between Ford and Mercury.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Unsure.

    1) AMC
    2) Pontiac
    3) Datsun

    Would like to have seen what all 3 might come up with. But Pontiac and Datsun were ‘divisions’ of a larger organization and probably would not have been allowed to innovate.

    The original AMX demonstrated how good AMC engineering and styling could be. The Eagle AWD Wagon was the darling of the ‘ladies who lunch’ brigade. With those and the Jeep division if they had been able to hold on, AMC might have thrived with the onset of the SUV/4wd/AWD craze.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Plymouth! A plymouth version of the Chrysler lx platform is what I want. I dont want bling (chrysler 300) or muscle car ( charger, challenger). A Plymouth lx car would be a true sleeper street machine.

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