Sunday, April 23, 2017

1970 Mercury Cougar

Try making a list of Mercury's 10 coolest cars. After the first and second generation Cougars, you've got the 1949-51 model, the king of the lead sleds. After that, uh, you've got the 1969 Cyclone Spoiler II. Yeah you're going to have a hard time getting up to 10 cars.

Monday, April 17, 2017

1973 Lincoln Contintental Mark IV

Thanks to the first oil crisis, the price of gasoline in the US increased 47% between 1972 and 1974. What a perfect time to buy a car that only gets 10 miles to the gallon.

* The monster 460 c.i. V-8 engine under that hood produces 212 hp. That's 56 hp less than today's Toyota V-6.
* This car was available with anti-lock brakes (!)
* Brown, brown, brown. It's must be the 70s.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

1987 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport

The Chevy Celebrity is representative of both the successes and the problems of circa-1980s General Motors.

The Good:
From "The 1980 X-bodies were by all accounts an unmitigated disaster. Yet they took that very same platform, updated and enlarged it, and turned it into the new A-body, which lasted for fifteen years and by the end, was a relatively well built, reliable car."

The X-bodies were of course the Chevy Citation and its sister models, which were launched to great success that quickly turned into even greater disaster when those cars quickly fell apart and caused many owners to switch to Hondas and Toyotas.

The GM A-body was so successful that it continued to be sold in the form of the Buick Century, without any significant changes, through the 1996 model year.

The Bad:
Platform sharing, the practice of having different brands sell the same basic car, has been around since about 1950. On the surface, that's an efficient way to do business. But to make it work, the brands still have to be easily distinguishable. You can guess, for example, that the 1970 Chevy Chevelle and the 1970 Olds Cutlass were built on the same platform, but they look different enough that you'd never confuse one for the other. The thing about the A-body was that the Chevy Celebrity, the Pontiac 6000,  the Olds Ciera and the Buick Century were exactly the same, inside and out. That leads to two problems. Number one, you only need one management team to sell a particular car, whereas GM in this case had four. Number two, it tends to create, (from a 2009 business study of GM), "a huge divisional and cross-divisional replication of cars in many of the market segments," with the outcome being, "GM now competes with itself for market share and cash flow." These days, GM spokesman Jim Burke is admitting that if GM is going to continue to share platforms, they need to work "to differentiate and distinguish the models from the standpoint of exterior and interior design."

Additional observations:
* "Eurosport"? C'mon Chevy, does anything about this vehicle really say, "European sports car"?
* Moss growing on a old car is normal in Seattle. I note that there's a thin line of moss growing on the north-facing side of this car, but not the south-facing side. Presumably it's been parked in this same spot for decades.
* Cars were more expensive in the 80s. In 1985, one of my teachers bought a plain-jane Celebrity and paid $12,000. That's $27,000 in 2017 dollars, $4,000 more than you'd pay for a new base-model Toyota Camry today.