Often a comment sparks an entire blog entry. Nothing gets me going more than a discussion about US auto makers, especially if I can lay out my thoughts about “what’s happened to (insert brand here)”.
In a comment to my Auto Factoids for the Week of Aug 19, 2012 (http://wp.me/pKHNM-1fG) Bill wrote:
“If I were in charge of GM, I would not have left Oldsmobile for death. I liked the idea of ‘Saturn-izing’ Olds into a Lexus level car. There might have been only one, or two models under the Olds badge, but I would not have left the world’s oldest car company for dead.
Oldsmobile was GM’s ‘experimental’ division both in terms of engineering and product marketing. Many automotive firsts such as automatic transmission (Hydramatic), OHV V8s, and even the ‘self winding’ car clock……….Which brings me to the time I find myself saying in many of my comments in your BLOG:
“What happend to GM????””
I’ve mentioned this before, it never really made any sense to me why you would have so many divisions in a car company as GM did. Some say, it was to offer different levels of options that were affordable on up to expensive. But lets take the Chevrolet for instance. At one time they had the Biscayne, Belair, Impala and Caprice (and I think that was the correct order from lowest optioned to the highest) as option levels and pricing to reach everyone. This doesn’t seem too bad. But now add in the other divisions with Chevy being the lowest, then there’s Pontiac, Buick, Olds, and Caddy and I think that would be the correct order for options and pricing as well. A further break down in what as suppose to be different classes of automobile for different classes of society was the norm for those divisions as well. For example the Tempest and La Mans, GTO were basically the same car with different options.
I understand brand/model loyalty, especially at the initial merging/acquisition of a brand, but at some point that stopped being the only valid reason for keeping them separate. By the time the ’70s and ’80s rolled around they all started looking the same. For example take the Chevy Monte Carlo for 1978 and compare with the Buick and Olds of the same year:
78 Buick Regal
78 Chevy Monte Carlo
1978 Olds Cutlass
Minus the big tires on the Olds, tell me why I should purchase one over the other or purchase one at all (beside the fact they were fairly ugly)?
Frankly, I would have kept Pontiac over Olds any day but then again the difference between a Camaro and a Firebird in 2000 wasn’t much -but they are both gone now.
There just wasn’t much different. They diluted the brand and it became impossible to find any major differences – unless you were a gear head and most consumers were not.
The necessity to cut cost and share parts made it nearly mandatory to have them all made from the same cookie cutter.
Now don’t get me started on the purchase of oversea brands and becoming a finance/mortgage company to defray cost. (Did you know that at one time GM did more business in home/real estate loans then they did with their core car brands?
I rest my case.
Thanks for reading.