Jump to content
Zelandeth

The Tragic Near Miss Models...

Recommended Posts

A conversation I was having with a friend earlier got me thinking about this.

What do folks see as being the models which should have done better?  Should have changed the fortunes of their parent company.  Whether down to botched marketing, management stupidity, releasing the model before it was ready, or just being too left field, or just plain prejudicial nonsense written by the motoring press.

A few obviously spring to mind for BMC, hard not to mention the Rover 75 which to me always felt like it should have saved Rover.  The Metro which was a damn good driving little car...but wasn't the new Mini as it was always touted.  The Allegro of course got messed around with by the bean counters and emerged a very different car.  Would love a proper shot of a Maxi...have only trundled around the FoD in one at walking pace, but I was massively impressed with the brief introduction there.  Seemed a lovely comfy, fabulously roomy and well thought out car...no idea why they seemed to be so derided.

For me though there's one which makes me want to cry.

From our friends over in Tolyatti, it's the Samara.

It was so nearly the car which could have started to turn things around for the Lada marque as the Favorit did for Skoda.  It was a truly massive step forward for them from the Riva and should have helped put them firmly on the map.  It didn't though.

[] It was a clean, modern looking car at launch (which I still keep thinking was early 90s, not mid 80s).

[] It was just as roomy as the cars it would be competing with.

[] Nice light and airy cabin.

[] Their new range of engines gave peppy performance which gave performance often better than expected of a budget car.

[] They actually handled pretty well (my one did anyway!) despite the Land Rover like ground clearance.

The Samara was fundamentally a really good little car.  It could have so easily been an honest competitor to the Favorit rather than a joke.  However...it was launched 95% done.  It always felt to me like they'd got the cars ready to send to motor shows, to have some at dealers for photographing and such...but then just gone "yep, that'll do!" Before sending them out for sale at that point.

It's the detail that they screwed up.  Fit and finish, making sure there isn't a stinking great metal bar in the back of the seat that digs into your back.  Making sure the windscreen wipers don't lift clear off the screen above 50mph.  Actually gluing the gearknob onto the lever...stupid things like that.  It just felt if they had spent another 5% in terms of time and money to *finish* the car before they unleashed it on the world that things could have played out very differently.  The core of a good car was in there but it was never allowed to shine.

I could be totally wrong, but that's just my feelings on that one...

Anybody else got either further thoughts on this car or their own thoughts on tragic near misses?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could probably write a whole thesis on Austin/Rover but one that springs to mind was the launch of the bubble shape 200/400 in the mid-nineties. Good looking, good driving cars but as usual Rover took the piss and priced the polo-sized 200 as a golf and the golf-sized 400 as a Passat. They then got more tragic with each tepid facelift.

Alfa Romeo have had a few -the 156 was a huge success and gave them their best ever sales figures in the uk. The generation that followed, 159 etc looked amazing but were expensive and the drive didn’t match the looks and didn’t sell half as well. They are now in the curious position of finally having a worthy car that can live up to its aesthetics in the Giulia, but are left with about 3 dealers and a three car model range so they’ve sold even fewer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the Model 70 based AC Town car

1973 AC-Bristol Petite Coupe + 1974 AC Sociable Coupe f3q.jpg

52843656_10216230450568977_5397477553977950208_n.jpg

52776036_10216230455849109_6296925945794134016_n.jpg

a really interesting what could have been, as anyone who has had actual experience with a Model 70 will tell you they are not the horrible vehicles a lot of places would lead you to believe them to be, and are actually surprisingly decent, handling/performing pretty well for a car let alone a 3 wheeler, with a chassis being built like a brick dunny,

and as such the question arises what if the Model 70 was sold/built as a private car rather then as an invalid vehicle?

but as I understand it, it is sadly also what did the AC Town car project in, as the Model 70 unlike most cars of the time, was a vehicle built up to a spec rather then down to a cost, the government would be buying most Model 70's so it didn't matter much what they cost just that they matched the government specs, and while this was good for building a robust long life vehicle, its not so good for making a vehicle for the cost sensitive small car market, (especially at a time when AC was not doing so hot financially)

as such after 3 Prototypes the project ended AFAIK

but I do wonder how things may have gone for AC had they been able to bring them to market, it would have been interesting to see how they would of sold etc,

(and it would be very interesting to see how the prototypes drive, especially the 4 wheeler)

hell id love to just know about them in general sadly very little information is out there on them, and although all 3 prototypes are thought to survive they are sadly no longer in the UK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, J-T said:

You could probably write a whole thesis on Austin/Rover but one that springs to mind was the launch of the bubble shape 200/400 in the mid-nineties. Good looking, good driving cars but as usual Rover took the piss and priced the polo-sized 200 as a golf and the golf-sized 400 as a Passat. They then got more tragic with each tepid facelift.

This...   Rover developed the R3 as a supermini Metro replacement and the HHr as a 200 replacement and then arbitrarily bumped them into the class above which was a terrible idea.  Not even Volkswagen at the time would price a Golf at the same level as a Passat and expect to get away with it.  Yet that is exactly what Rover did.  Completely spaffed the goodwill of the early 90s up the wall.  All part of their blinkered desire to be a premium car maker at any cost even though their cars were still mass market hatchbacks.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The mk5 Escort. (Or is that a mk4 ? Was the mk3 series 2 the mk4 ? It matters not) 

Anyway introduced in H/J reg so 91, 92 on ? 

These escorts were statistically much higher quality than anything Ford had ever produced.  They had applied thier new PPAP process which resulted in process capabilities on key dimensions with CpKs above 1.66 (5 sigma) which meant no part had a yeild lower than 99% 

Unfortunately it was the most boring and uncomfortable car ever produced. 

Unfortunately the mk6 wasn't much better. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every car that BL put out in the 1970s.

Allegro - Could have been an ambassador for new tech and forward thinking for the motoring masses, ended up being under-developed and ruined by enforced parts sharing ruining the styling.
Princess - See above but for the executive market, indeed it's probably as close as BL got to building the car of the future without completely hashing it. Still marred by quality control issues.
Metro - Came out years late, early bodywork woes ruined the car's reputation.
Dolomite - Never got redesigned/developed, looked ancient by the mid 1970s. 
 

If the testing, build quality, production control had been up to the standards of the innovation being applied at the company the story could have been very different. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, J-T said:

You could probably write a whole thesis on Austin/Rover but one that springs to mind was the launch of the bubble shape 200/400 in the mid-nineties. Good looking, good driving cars but as usual Rover took the piss and priced the polo-sized 200 as a golf and the golf-sized 400 as a Passat. They then got more tragic with each tepid facelift.

You beat me to it. I was thinking more pecifically the bubble shaped Rover (R3?). If it was priced more competitively then it would have been a sales hit, especially as the Rover 100 was at the end of it's life cycle. They perhaps wouldn't have needed to approach Tata for their City Rover if they hadn't marketed it in line with German car prices. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GM have a great habit of releasing a tepid car, then gradually improving it to the point it's actually good, then immediately killing it off.

The Pontiac Fiero comes to mind. Many people say the final model year cars were actually rather good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you’ve missed the point with the Samara. It was built like a bag of shite because the people at the factory didn’t care, at the time there wasn’t much in the way of competition. If it was built like crap what difference would it have made, they’d have been paid anyway so. That’s communism for you. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Zelandeth said:

A conversation I was having with a friend earlier got me thinking about this.

What do folks see as being the models which should have done better?  Should have changed the fortunes of their parent company.  Whether down to botched marketing, management stupidity, releasing the model before it was ready, or just being too left field, or just plain prejudicial nonsense written by the motoring press.

A few obviously spring to mind for BMC, hard not to mention the Rover 75 which to me always felt like it should have saved Rover.  The Metro which was a damn good driving little car...but wasn't the new Mini as it was always touted.  The Allegro of course got messed around with by the bean counters and emerged a very different car.  Would love a proper shot of a Maxi...have only trundled around the FoD in one at walking pace, but I was massively impressed with the brief introduction there.  Seemed a lovely comfy, fabulously roomy and well thought out car...no idea why they seemed to be so derided.

For me though there's one which makes me want to cry.

From our friends over in Tolyatti, it's the Samara.

It was so nearly the car which could have started to turn things around for the Lada marque as the Favorit did for Skoda.  It was a truly massive step forward for them from the Riva and should have helped put them firmly on the map.  It didn't though.

[] It was a clean, modern looking car at launch (which I still keep thinking was early 90s, not mid 80s).

[] It was just as roomy as the cars it would be competing with.

[] Nice light and airy cabin.

[] Their new range of engines gave peppy performance which gave performance often better than expected of a budget car.

[] They actually handled pretty well (my one did anyway!) despite the Land Rover like ground clearance.

The Samara was fundamentally a really good little car.  It could have so easily been an honest competitor to the Favorit rather than a joke.  However...it was launched 95% done.  It always felt to me like they'd got the cars ready to send to motor shows, to have some at dealers for photographing and such...but then just gone "yep, that'll do!" Before sending them out for sale at that point.

It's the detail that they screwed up.  Fit and finish, making sure there isn't a stinking great metal bar in the back of the seat that digs into your back.  Making sure the windscreen wipers don't lift clear off the screen above 50mph.  Actually gluing the gearknob onto the lever...stupid things like that.  It just felt if they had spent another 5% in terms of time and money to *finish* the car before they unleashed it on the world that things could have played out very differently.  The core of a good car was in there but it was never allowed to shine.

I could be totally wrong, but that's just my feelings on that one...

Anybody else got either further thoughts on this car or their own thoughts on tragic near misses?

Pretty sure that the whole Lada range, along with Skoda, but probably not Yugo were "refinished" at the UK import centres.

I know that the early Favorits had interiors retrimmed to something more than the factory's 0.3 micron thick fabric and had Philips R552 radio cassette fitted and pop sunroofs with integrated aerial.

Point is that it wouldn't have taken too much effort for them to have got that last 5% done. But when you were only paying the square root of zero for it "who cares right?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Daihatsu Terios. Basically the same concept as the Ford EcoSport... but better. Ford have sold loads of those hateful little things. Daihatsu were just too far ahead of the game with their dinky 4x4.

The Terios never sold much more than 20k a year in Europe, Ford are now selling five times that number of EcoSports a year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Zelandeth said:

A conversation I was having with a friend earlier got me thinking about this.

What do folks see as being the models which should have done better?  Should have changed the fortunes of their parent company.  Whether down to botched marketing, management stupidity, releasing the model before it was ready, or just being too left field......

Anybody else got either further thoughts on this car or their own thoughts on tragic near misses?

The Ro80 was released in 1967 before it was ready, and possibly overpriced throughout its production life, being significantly more expensive than other cars in its class. The engineers knew the rotor tip seals were a problem which would need another year or two to solve. The board of NSU couldn't wait, as the company needed to recoup both development costs and to restore its failing financial position.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree completely on the Samara, it could have been great. I had a 'Flyte' special edition and it was woeful. It had a tiny 'sports' steering wheel which made the steering feel even heavier. Plus it was mostly held together with filler when I got it. Would have loved to keep it but I did not have the skills to save it. 

 

 Brochure pics. 

s-l300.jpg.a18a021ba30c6847168b2e870c01318c.jpg

download.jpeg.c9be57fbb8923416dd47268e7393fe0b.jpeg

autowp.ru_lada_samara_1.5_gl_flyte_4.thumb.jpg.5e26308b26975e54efdd5192f48252bb.jpg

 

And this was my one. Rip K927CGS

25079750001_large.jpg.206fe1d0827eefeca613ee5bf9b77a14.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, captain_70s said:

Every car that BL put out in the 1970s.

Allegro - Could have been an ambassador for new tech and forward thinking for the motoring masses, ended up being under-developed and ruined by enforced parts sharing ruining the styling.
Princess - See above but for the executive market, indeed it's probably as close as BL got to building the car of the future without completely hashing it. Still marred by quality control issues.
Metro - Came out years late, early bodywork woes ruined the car's reputation.
Dolomite - Never got redesigned/developed, looked ancient by the mid 1970s. 
 

If the testing, build quality, production control had been up to the standards of the innovation being applied at the company the story could have been very different. 

Add the Triumph Stag to that. Lovely styling, a classic V8 soundtrack but typical penny-pinching in the development stakes that rather ruined what could have been an interesting Merc SL rival. It's telling that the engine was based on the Riccardo slant-four developed between BL and Saab, but Saab pretty much completely re-engineered that engine (and was then able to keep developing it over the next decades).

I think the Maxi deserves a place here too. If the looks had been slightly less gawky (especially around the rear), if the gearbox had been properly developed and the engines just a bit, well, better really, could that have been  a very different story? Look at the VW Golf for a positive answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Supernaut said:

GM have a great habit of releasing a tepid car, then gradually improving it to the point it's actually good, then immediately killing it off.

The Pontiac Fiero comes to mind. Many people say the final model year cars were actually rather good.

Opel Manta,a cracking drive but always underpowered

If GM had dropped the 2.0 16v Redtop into it as well as the Astra,which was literally a bolt in job,it would have given the car a whole new lease of life...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, sierraman said:

City Rover. Too expensive, from memory they were pitching them at Fiesta/Corsa money which was laughable. They should have adopted the ‘pile them high sell them cheap’.

They should’ve really launched it under a different brand and then did what you say - Dacia / Daewoo style dirt cheapness. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My memory is skewed by childhood and nostalgia but the Dedra turbo my dad has in the mid 90s was sublime: comfy, fast and the best seats ever. Nobody was using alcantara apart from Lancia then and it’s everywhere now. And they look like an Italian Primera which has to be a good thing. Now they’re remembered as the last car Lancia sold in the UK, and so the model that killed the brand to the point where their current models have to be rebranded as a fuckin Chrysler to have any hope of selling any. 

1AA6786A-39AD-4109-B540-90288BBE6FA6.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Renault Avantime.   A bold idea that just doesn't deliver. 

It is huge for a four seat coupe but the space inside is nothing special. The floor is high for no obvious benefit (nothing underneath it but space) and the much trumpeted door hinges still don't allow the doors to open far enough.

And this is the killer - it drives like an Espace, and even worse, it rides like a BMW.

A car that looked this special needed a magic carpet ride. (And a Tesla powertrain.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Kiltox said:

They should’ve really launched it under a different brand and then did what you say - Dacia / Daewoo style dirt cheapness. 

They were mad really weren’t they. Proper arse about tit decision making, take the Allegro, went from being a fairly sleek design to being morbidly overweight because BL just had to include the criteria it be able to fit the 1750cc in it. Again the Maxi, insistence on fitting those 18/22 doors that made it appear ridiculous and obsolete almost instantly. 

Even when they got it right with the  SD1 which looked fantastic then and still does, they couldn’t put it together properly. 

Missed opportunity as I see it the City Rover, sell them at £6-7k, get some money in the coffers to fund replacing the 25, skip all the bollocks with the digital clocks inlaid in fake wood. They could have done it with bringing something similar to the MG3 out but one that didn’t look so bloody stupid. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As has been said, in replacing the r8 trying to push the bubble 200/400 into market segments and pricing one size up seems a big own goal for rover. Over ambitious? Just misguided I think and in doing so the reception to these models was blunted- they were quite an achievement but mis marketed and priced.

Polo vs 200 not golf vs 200; daft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also- Land Rover. It had the March on everyone  else but chronic under development (profits propped up the ailing car division in the 70s rather than being fed back into development) and indifferent labour relations wasted the advantage. OK it’s hardly a disaster story but so many world markets were lost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...