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The Tragic Near Miss Models...

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The Quasar

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Motorbikes have long since been basically a bicycle with an engine attached.  A bicycle seating position is good if you want your weight to push down on the pedals but even the keenest wouldn’t say the aerodynamics are great.

”Feet forward” bikes changed that with useful features like a lower centre of gravity, decent (for the time) aerodynamics and evening some kind of crash protection too.  It’s all relative of course and context of the time is important, but they gave it some thought.

Most had hub centre steering which avoids the horrible dive you often get with motorbike forks, this is more like a car front suspension.

Sadly, the motorcycle market is conservative and the only thing that seems to sell is whatever they made last year but with 2 more bhp.  Coupled with the fact they looked a bit geeky because they were almost home-built and while Engineers are great, they aren’t stylists.

I’d love one

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heres a bus one!

the FRM Front entrance rear engined Routemaster

http://www.countrybus.org/FRM/FRM.html

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sadly only 1 built before being killed off by leyland as so it would not compete with their Atlantean models

it would have been really interesting had they produced more then one, although I doubt they would have had many orders outside of London, it would have been really interesting to see how LT might have done with a fleet of FRMs rather than unreliable and slow DMS's!

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Lots of good suggestions as usual. 

I think the Renault 21 was a better car than its UK sales figures might suggest. However at that time in that class of car there was a lot of brand loyalty to Ford, Vauxhall, Austin Rover for Sierras, Cavaliers and Montegos and the British built Bluebird was getting established. 

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Reliant SS1. Handled well, reliable but, ooh. Not good on the eye. If they had started with the later upgraded new "Sabre" (see also Cypher) it would have been an MX5 beater. Nearly bought one of the last built Sabres from Graham Walkers many years ago. Lovely blue colour it was...

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34 minutes ago, Walter White said:

Lots of good suggestions as usual. 

I think the Renault 21 was a better car than its UK sales figures might suggest. However at that time in that class of car there was a lot of brand loyalty to Ford, Vauxhall, Austin Rover for Sierras, Cavaliers and Montegos and the British built Bluebird was getting established. 

Yes.  I had a 21 Savanna for several years.  It did everything pretty well, it was reliable and reasonably economical, didn't rust noticeably and had a nice quality feel to it.  They are practically forgotten now.  

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20171015_123656.thumb.jpg.5aee570d62dd25a1adc5371da12fa70b.jpg1962 Studebaker Avanti. Only about 6000 sold. The supercharged R3 version was good for approx 178mph. Very influential design but Studebaker were going bust. In comparison Ford sold 400,000 Mustang in first year of production 1964 and 1M the following.

I papped this example in France in 2017.

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On 1/22/2020 at 11:07 AM, dollywobbler said:

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.

For me the tragic history of BL / BLMC / ARG "nearly" models was a symptom of a company that failed to get to grips with what it wanted to be and what it wanted each of its brands to do within that vision. Hindsight is a wonderful science but there were simply too many "badges" and no will to rationalise sensibly. If we take the early 1970s as an arbitrary point in time then it was still highly possible for Austin or Morris (but not both) to be pitched against VW, Triumph against BMW, Rover against Mercedes and MG against Porsche. Metro was an ideal counter to the growing "budget" manufacturers and was so close to being a brand in its own right when launched in the early 1980s. The match isn't perfect and left Jaguar and Land Rover in niches of their own - but that really wouldn't have been a big problem.

If you take a couple of models that other have mentioned. The Princess was nowhere near brave enough, it needed a hatchback for a start and should have been pitched with Datsun-beating specifications. The Allegro should have been pitched straight at where the Golf landed, etc, etc... Mini was fine, it just needed a 

Engines were clearly an issue. There was so much internal strife over which was best that nothing got done. The answer was to start afresh, using the first class knowledge that was in the company to create a new, modular range. VW did it, why not BLxx? 

It's an excellent subject to research and an interesting thought experiment in what might have been. 

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On 1/22/2020 at 8:01 PM, Shep Shepherd said:

The Gen II Saab 9-5, which I reckon would have become quite popular if Saab hadn't gone bust. The super-rare Sportwagon version was a real looker in my opinion.

 

 

I see a black 10 plate one regularly. It looks delightfully sinister.

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On 1/22/2020 at 8:01 PM, Shep Shepherd said:

The Gen II Saab 9-5, which I reckon would have become quite popular if Saab hadn't gone bust. The super-rare Sportwagon version was a real looker in my opinion.

The Sportwagon/SportCombi never even made it into dealerships, coinciding with Saab's insolvency, so the very few (possibly 35 built; some say only 27) that are in private hands would probably have been bought directly from the Swedish equivalent of the Official Receiver. Asking prices seem to be north of 50 grand, and I think all LHD.

Meanwhile, the remains of SAAB are apparently building electric 9-3s (after a very long gestation period) which we might see on the market this year or next. 180-mile range doesn't sound all that exciting, though.

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2 hours ago, Tadhg Tiogar said:

The Sportwagon/SportCombi never even made it into dealerships, coinciding with Saab's insolvency, so the very few (possibly 35 built; some say only 27) that are in private hands would probably have been bought directly from the Swedish equivalent of the Official Receiver. Asking prices seem to be north of 50 grand, and I think all LHD.

Meanwhile, the remains of SAAB are apparently building electric 9-3s (after a very long gestation period) which we might see on the market this year or next. 180-mile range doesn't sound all that exciting, though.

The story about the electric 93 has changed a bit since the Autocar article referenced. NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden) Production started in China in 2019. I know the target was about 1000 cars a week but my mate in Sweden isn't sure if they've got anywhere near that yet. There was rumoured to be some new European investment around Christmas but no idea if that was true or where it might come from. The trouble is that the 93 platform is now pretty old even if the electric gubbins is all new technology.

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On 1/24/2020 at 9:17 PM, Tock said:

How about these another obscure oddity.
Must be extinct now!
Sao penza90bf42b6d30d2ae76ee2a3d003a45a03.jpg

Old model Mazda 323 built under license in Brazil I believe. There was also the little matter of the 121 that became the Kia Pride, wonder what happened to that company?

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On 1/24/2020 at 7:55 PM, garethj said:

The Quasar

DB3C1B75-C447-4E7B-8DBF-FF8F70DA4847.thumb.jpeg.a1eaedc83ac845b07d981e6cada5f6b2.jpeg

Motorbikes have long since been basically a bicycle with an engine attached.  A bicycle seating position is good if you want your weight to push down on the pedals but even the keenest wouldn’t say the aerodynamics are great.

”Feet forward” bikes changed that with useful features like a lower centre of gravity, decent (for the time) aerodynamics and evening some kind of crash protection too.  It’s all relative of course and context of the time is important, but they gave it some thought.

Most had hub centre steering which avoids the horrible dive you often get with motorbike forks, this is more like a car front suspension.

Sadly, the motorcycle market is conservative and the only thing that seems to sell is whatever they made last year but with 2 more bhp.  Coupled with the fact they looked a bit geeky because they were almost home-built and while Engineers are great, they aren’t stylists.

I’d love one

Built in Kingswood, Bristol in the late 1970s. I saw the prototype(s) regularly as a teenager.

Why can I remember that but not what I had for lunch?

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On 1/22/2020 at 4:16 PM, RoadworkUK said:

I always thought the Ford Fusion was woefully mis-marketed.

It was seen as what it was, a taller Fiesta that was easier to get in and out of, and that made it popular among a 'more experienced'' element of society.  It was always tarnished as a bit senile and incontinent.

Had Ford stuck roof rails, bigger wheels and a set of butch-looking cladding on it – basically given it the Streetwise treatment –  and marketed it in the 21st century Matra Rancho bracket, things might have been different.

Ignore the tidy 600, the Fusion is apparently a Pursuit special edition.

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1997 Rover 620 GSi Auto by Spottedlaurel, on Flickr

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On 1/24/2020 at 7:17 AM, Parky said:

Renault 14.  If the rep selling Finnigans Waxoyl had managed to convince our French cousins that some rustproofing would be a good idea, we would all be complaining about all the bloody Renault 14’s filling the classifieds right now

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The advertising campaign in France was a set back for the car in France, or so I'm told. The early "Poire" (Pear) advertising campaign wasn't very popular with the French public as many didn't want something that resembled an organically-shaped fruit. 

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On 1/23/2020 at 3:16 AM, RoadworkUK said:

I always thought the Ford Fusion was woefully mis-marketed.

It was seen as what it was, a taller Fiesta that was easier to get in and out of, and that made it popular among a 'more experienced'' element of society.  It was always tarnished as a bit senile and incontinent.

Had Ford stuck roof rails, bigger wheels and a set of butch-looking cladding on it – basically given it the Streetwise treatment –  and marketed it in the 21st century Matra Rancho bracket, things might have been different.

I'm not sure why, but the Fusion was one of the first cars I quite liked, this when I was about 4 or 5 but I was probably the only kid who admired them.

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Poire is also French slang for a foolish person, so a bit of a marketing slip up.

Soon the were nicknamed "rotten pears" due to their rusting habits.

I did wonder how much it cost to buy in the suitcase engines & drivelines from Peugeot, compared to putting off developing a transverse layout for their existing engines.

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1 hour ago, Bianconeri said:

The story about the electric 93 has changed a bit since the Autocar article referenced. NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden) Production started in China in 2019. I know the target was about 1000 cars a week but my mate in Sweden isn't sure if they've got anywhere near that yet. There was rumoured to be some new European investment around Christmas but no idea if that was true or where it might come from. The trouble is that the 93 platform is now pretty old even if the electric gubbins is all new technology.

Chinese involvement, as ever, sounds very opaque.

Could still turn out to be a damp squib.

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17 hours ago, Mr Pastry said:

Yes.  I had a 21 Savanna for several years.  It did everything pretty well, it was reliable and reasonably economical, didn't rust noticeably and had a nice quality feel to it.  They are practically forgotten now.  

Also different wheel base and engine orientation between the 1.7 and the 2.0. Can’t actually remember them selling that many 2.0 ones, the one to have was the 2.0 TXi. 

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