Junkman Posted January 25, 2014 Share Posted January 25, 2014 If there is one thing I can say in favour of the newfangled behemoths, then it's that I like the 'because we can' factor. "If we'd stop doing things just for the heck of it, it will be a very sad day indeed".(Sir Donald Campbell) But. The 1971-1976 GM full-size range, in particular the A-Bodies (Cadillacs, Buicks, and senior Oldsmobiles, i.e. the Ninety-Eights) were arguably the largest mass-produced cars delivered in automotive history. The severely downsized 1977 models are often seen as a result of the OPEC oil embargo by the ones not in the know, however, this is not the case.Given the 4-year lead time of new model development at the time, the decision was obviously made well before the Sheiks turned the oil tap control wheels clockwise. If you add the managerial decision process and the lead time for persuading the bean counters to clear the funds for the development, the initial decision was actually made shortly after the 1971 models were launched. If I then believe some people I know who actually worked in the GM design studios at the time, the reasons for downsizing were a lot more trivial, namely to maximise profit.Let me explain. - The cars had reached a size that allowed fewer cars being on the assembly line at a given time, which reduced output.- The heft of the cars required such an amount of raw materials, that a certain profitability threshold was passed. Consequently the decision to downsize was made to reduce unit production cost. Making the cars smaller not only rectified the above mentioned points, but since the smaller cars no longer required the expensively to produce Big Blocks to perform well, those could be deleted as well.In the end, the 1977 GM full-size offerings were reduced to a 116 inch wheelbase, last seen on the 1955-1957 models, or the Intermediates. They also were a whopping 550 lbs lighter than their predecessors on average. Other US manufacturers followed suit with the usual delay and a lot more haphazardly developed shite, to merely counter the GM marketing offensive, and not as a reaction to the oil crisis either.I just thought this completely pointless piece of useless trivia might interest the odd autoshiter. However, considering the above, I see history repeated. With that, I think we will see yet another generation of yet bigger cars in Europe, before downsizing commences. Currently, the new car offerings in Europe are a slap in the face for any self-respected engineer, but that's probably only my opinion, as usual. Please be aware that I actually am a graduate automotive engineer who aspires to the demanding standards set by the likes of Spen King. Oh, before I forget, the downsizing of passenger cars in America has led to the daft septics now predominantly buying lorries. Because they can. Justin Case, Asimo, ProgRocker and 4 others 7 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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