The Automotive Industry

Design, Engineering & Excitement!

Engineering

Engineering is defined as building things via the use of scientific principles. In practice, engineering is trade-offs and fighting the limitations of our abilities and imagination. It's reducing expenses, not just of a part, but of the parts to build a part, the industrial machinery and equipment. It often means a lot of tedious and dirty work to get to a finished product.

Here's a wonderful video comparing two corporations' products. It's pretty conclusive which cars are the better engineered for roadability.

One might credit some bias, since this was sponsored by Chrysler, but the demonstration is accurate and it really did have better performance and handling. But, the cost was the vehicles didn't have quite as cushy a ride and had somewhat higher noise levels. Trade-offs.

Quick & Dirty Summary
• Introduction to engineering
• Koenigsegg's advanced engineering
• A straightforward path to better car efficiency
• GMs falling market share
• GM restraint of trade
• GM bungling and disastrous decisions
• VW's unfair shake(down)
• FoMoCo tries reworking the Thunderbird
• Falcon and Mustang: Tricks of the trade
• Ford follies indicate managerial rot
• A styling revolution that changed everything
• Tips for designers and manufacturers
• The Horrors: Inexplicable styling missteps

Engineering can also mean recognizing better ideas, and adopting them, leading us to this Swedish manufacturer.

Koenigsegg

Regera

Christian von Koenigsegg's car company, for example, had only a reported 215 vehicles on the road in 2022, with 495 scheduled for delivery to customers in 2023 and 2024. Yet it has some of the most advanced engineering. He pulled the transmission out of his supercar, the Regera, and made it the world's fastest accelerating car to 250 MPH! But the rest of the auto industry is seemingly oblivious.

To spell it out: He proved you don't need conventional transmissions in cars, and it is more efficient to not have them! That should be an occasion for joy and rapid mobilization in factories to reflect the improvement. Anytime you can remove a complex component, you get a huge advantage.

Now, a fluid coupling/torque converter still connects the V-8 engine to the differential at the rear end of this hybrid car, but it doesn't contribute to the car's propulsion until about 30 MPH. Before that, electric motors provide the drive. With an effectively one-speed transmission, no gearing, the drive ratio has to be pretty high, since the engine can only rev so fast. Despite that the Regera is a supercar, any common hybrid could still exploit the technology. And why wouldn't a manufacturer want to?

Gemera

Koenigsegg's new luxury car, the $1.7 million Gemera, is a magnificent hybrid electric solution to the "cars problem," and its general concept should be implemented by all manufacturers, who need to understand a game-changer when they see it.

Koenigsegg Gemera

"How are mainstream car makers going to do that? They'll go out of business at that price!"

They shouldn't imitate the price, of course, but the concept. So not just adopting, but adapting the new idea.

The Gemera is powered by a three (3) cylinder engine of 600 HP and three motors (now revised to one, more powerful, motor) of a combined 1100 HP for a total 1700 horsepower.

Yes, 600's crazy power for an engine, never mind one with only three cylinders. Note that fewer cylinders means fewer parts. This helps make it less expensive, an important consideration. But the engine still sounds bad-ass thanks to big cylinders.

With more grunt than typical V-8s, this engine can be adapted for more or less power simply by choosing turbocharging or no.

Why is this important?

By having an adaptable engine, you potentially never have to design a new one, which is a terrific savings of resources. Note also: no turbo lag at all should be noticeable, when powering your ride with electric motors as well as an engine.

Cooling is more efficient with three cylinders as well, and I've seen other places tout that the fewer cylinders, the less internal friction. But more important is the compact size, which is ideal. Small size means you can optimize for passenger and cargo space. And no need for any nonsense "cylinder deactivation" though you could implement that with Koenigsegg's Freevalve system (no valve train, but using electro-hydro-pneumatic controls to open and close the valves). Turning some cylinders on and off is hard on an engine, due to hot/cold spots leading to thermal stresses, for one, and therefore stupid to do.

Koenigsegg's engine is revolutionary in another way. It runs on pretty much any fuel. On alcohol it produces hardly any emissions.

The hybrid approach done the right way is the answer, with a natural gas-powered engine, or, using the Koenigsegg design. Mazda has introduced a hybrid using a rotary engine as a range extender only, so it recognizes the importance of this type of setup.

This mindless pursuit of a switch to battery-only cars is dopey and doomed. Batteries are too marginal. The holy grail solid state battery is turning out to be a farce. Toyota's attempt was to be released in 2021, now rescheduled to 2025 -- or 2030. Or "whenever."

And so what, even if it is successful?

Even with better batteries there's still the problems of recharging, the sparse availability of chargers, and the range anxiety, and the absurd weight of too many batteries. Only two ways to easily deal with this, having the charger built in your car or having the road itself provide a way to charge (and hope the power doesn't go out), and, ideally, cheaper and fewer batteries. With the Koenigsegg design, the solution is today.

Manufacturers need to be smart. It's also in their mandate to create the best profits for their shareholders. "Smart" is to take the best design available and license or emulate it. Right now, it's this advanced hybrid design. Of course, it would need to be adapted for lower cost. Easy enough, 1700 HP is not an essential for a family car.

(LOL: They managed to jam an optional V-8 into the Gemera, for 2300 HP! Obviously this vehicle is just for the precious few, but what a rush if that can stay planted to the road.)

Here's a prediction: those manufacturers that don't move towards this type of system will be the ones that go under, again. There's no other feasible way to meet all the "green" rules.

Due to the overwhelming incompetency in almost all management these days, they'll mostly bungle it. The incompetency can be attributed to sins such as corruption, arrogance in ignorance, "diversity quotas," and so on. There are few truly competent people in any organization. There seem to be many that are talented in a specific area, but fall apart when big changes are required. But a main problem is managers who are solely promoted to that position through nepotism or for their bossiness, suckholery, and unquestioning obedience to superiors.

Did Chevy need V-8s in 262, 263, 265, 267, 283, 302, 305, 307, 327, 350, 396, 400, 427 and 434 cubic inch displacements (and that's just the small block V-8)? Well, at the time, for different applications, and with limited tech, it may have seemed to make sense. Today, one engine can be used over a wide range of applications, cars and trucks, with only tweaking and optimization going forward. Power levels are, as mentioned, controlled by adding turbo(s) or even a supercharger, or by changing the electric motor configurations. The cost saving is tremendous for a car company to never have to design another engine, or at least delay it much longer!

In sum, the whole electric car push is a boondoggle. It can't work on the path it's on now, with only batteries. Yet a simple switch to a hybrid using a small, clean-burning engine is the straightforward and the only practical solution. Why would a company want to subject customers to the looming risk of running out of juice and long charge times if it doesn't have to?

An absurd ~50 MPG fuel economy regulation for cars is coming up, a physically impossible requirement to attain with the entire fleet. Understand that it is, like all these types of demands, mostly phony, and government lackeys do such things constantly to get payoffs/bribes/graft in order to later roll back these pie-in-the-sky edicts.

We mustn't forget, either, there's also the intention to get us out of private transportation altogether.

General Morons

An instance of the car industry as a money redistribution machine: the excuse of General Motors going bankrupt, used to rob the taxpayer ($10+ billion losses admitted to, in the fallout) and move money to cronies.

They didn't care about the "jobs they saved," in bailing out "The General." (However, they do care about image, the way they are perceived, so don't want too many jobs to disappear too obviously at one time. Also, they do care about one of their most important tools: grandstanding.)

They introduced NAFTA, sent manufacturing overseas, wanting to destroy jobs. And the GM bailout saved nothing. They said, "Oh, the suppliers would have gone under, too," an absurd statement, because the other makers would produce more vehicles to take up GM's slack, therefore requiring just as many parts and suppliers, and business interests would have bought the productive parts of GM, and continued to make the Chevys and GMCs that sell.

GM served up boatloads of trash for generations, then stuck you with the bill when the final tally came due, via corporate welfare and bailouts, and buggered over its stock and bond holders. Then, adding insult to injury, it opened right back up again, under the same trading symbol, "GM." With the same goons on top.

And yet, it still has its loyal suckers. It should have gone broke. The bailout was not to save "millions of jobs," it was to protect the privileged class, and now it's going under, anyway. One site says its current chance of bankruptcy is 45%.

Management flunkies are somehow in bed with government, and entrench themselves, when our current system of "management" needs to be gone.

GM is a den of idiots.

Looking at GM's woes, perhaps they should make their best cars the Buicks, with Caddies simply being re-skinned Buicks, but flamboyantly styled, while Buicks are stylish, but sensible. It worked in the past: people bought the Buicks, basically identical to Caddies underneath, but more sedate and sensibly priced.

Perhaps Corvette should imitate Porsche and Ferrari by having it's own four-door GT and a sport CUV.

Perhaps it should license the best tech from companies like Koenigsegg. It seems GM shouldn't do its own original research, it is just too incompetent at it and ends up blowing billions every time. Leave innovation to the professionals. For example, now that GM is moving in the electric direction, the masters of the universe there have already blown $800 million on recalls for their electric Chevy Volt.

One might suggest it buy a controlling stake in whichever company has the most advanced tech. But, no, it'd just ruin whatever company it got its claws into, so that's out.

GM Market Share

Yikes!

The site, stockdividendscreener.com, has data of GM's market share, broken down for U.S., China and South America. Adding some European data and charting, gives us the following:

There's only a limited range for China, Europe and South America, but enough to show the trend, not to mention the disaster that the U.S. market demonstrates. GM sold off the last of its European business in 2017. General Motors, like Ford and Chrysler, back when we still had an American Chrysler, relies on fleet sales like rental companies and government contracts, to stay afloat.

After all the effort to "make it healthy again," and who knows how much taxpayer money squandered, it's still consistently on the way down, presumably to another bankruptcy.

The only real surprise on that graph is that GM had a little bit of resurgence around 1980. But then, they released the "X cars" in 1979, and unjustifiably got big praise and publicity for that, suckering in many people to buy those turkeys. (Easy to remember the gobblers' names if you remember the Chevy Nova: each letter in NOVA represents a division: Chevy Nova, Oldsmobile Omega, Pontiac Ventura, Buick Apollo.)

There's no secret why GM was number one in the '50s and 60s. It spent an average of $200 more per car than Ford. But the weasels got in. "Look at that, we can cut spending by shaving off that excess expense!"

If it were me, I'd say, "Great, let's find a way to 'leak' to the press that we spend more, then find ways to spend $300 more than Ford and keep our quality and market momentum up!"

GM Perfidy

Letting GM go would have strengthened the economy. For example, they're still producing Cadillacs, despite low sales. I'm sorry, but the new ones are ugly, crude-looking things with no resale value, that no sensible wealthy man would want any part of.

The 'Slade could have been shuffled off to GMC, but Cadillackluster should have been "expired." Even when they come up with a desirable concept car, they can't even produce it, with the excuse that they don't have a platform to fit it.

What kind of an auto company, with a heritage tracing back over 100 years, doesn't even understand the function of concept cars? They produce something meant to gauge public interest in a styling direction, then when they find something that tickles fancies, they ditch it? Dissolving GM, and purging the idiots that still run it, would have cleaned out the incompetent deadwood.

And with the resurrection of that bunch of creeps we now see things like this, as reported by GM Inside News:

The Empire Strikes Back, GM-Backed Legislation Attempts to Sink Silicon Valley

Several states are considering adopting a General Motors-backed bill that would exclude technology companies from testing autonomous driving technology within their borders, if passed, the legislation would restrict the operation of self-driving fleets to traditional vehicle manufacturers.

So, they're still up to their old scummy lobbying tricks, this time trying to hobble Silicon Valley. Furthermore, everything is still an excuse with them. They can't make any money off hybrid cars, like their Volt, which I've seen maybe three of while driving, while Toyota cleans up with its Prius, and it is so reliable and economical, it seems to be taking over the taxis. I asked a taxi driver about his and he was raving about its goodness and how it had 260,000 km (160,000 miles). The car showed little wear, also.

I didn't care for the styling (until the 2023 model came out) and it apparently isn't much of a driver's/enthusiast's car, but most people just want economical and reliable A->B transportation, making those aspects irrelevant.

By bailout logic, every business that is going down should be bailed. Little Jimmy's Lemonade stand? Of course, because the lemon producers will suffer if little Jimmy doesn't buy their lemons. People are wrong to still buy GM's lemons, too. They seem to be better made, these days, but they aren't as good as the foreign makers, and their former strong suit, styling, is a complete shambles. I think the company is crooked as hell, and, of course, it, too, spies on its customers.

I remember a GM worker being very confident, years before the bankruptcy, but when the fish was only just starting to rot from the head, that he had it on good sources that there were no worries. Government would never let GM go bankrupt because jobs! Well, he was right about government saving GM, but "jobs" was just the excuse.

GM is crony capitalism and the auto industry is a money redistribution machine.

In a recent incident of its customary wretched behavior, GM is now using police as its goon squad, sending them out to arrest people, after accusing those they gave overnight loaners of stealing the car.

And More, Yet More Bailouts?

There are lots of recent videos predicting yet another GM bust.

Yet, defying all reason, almost all the automakers are suddenly going to pure electric, taunting plain logic. These imbeciles don't realize, or care, that they're putting themselves out of work. We have to assume they've been promised something special when the time comes.

As usual, GM provides a humorous note: They tried, with the Volt, to do something clever with hybrids, but failed miserably. Too expensive, too ugly, not a very good car. Oddly, it seems to have been designed similarly to the excellent Prius, so they probably screwed it up with typical GM cheapening and corner-cutting.

We don't want to skip a comment about the Prius here. The latest version has a rating of over 50 MPG, which is a huge accomplishment in a vehicle that also, finally, provides satisfactory power. Which highlights another peeve of mine. Where are the accolades and trumpeters of the word here? Instead, all the latest hype seems centered around overpriced electric pickups, like the no-show Tesla Cybertruck, the Rivian firetrap, and another Ford farce, its Lightning pickup, which can't even manage a hundred miles when towing, and also is prone to spontaneous combustion. Are we at the tragedy or farce stage of society at this point? It's hard to distinguish.

Cadillac

"Here’s Why Your Cadillac XT5 May Have A Front-End Rattle Or Clunking Noise" - G.M. Authority, Aug. 29, 2022
"But those numbers didn't come easily. The supercharged small-block V-8 that powered our car for its first 1700 miles didn't survive the initial test session. After about 15 standing-start acceleration runs, the V-8 started misfiring dramatically, and the Caddy left on a tow truck. Somehow, combustion got too lean on the even bank, which led to cylinder scoring and necessitated a heart transplant. We've outlined the carnage and findings from a teardown of that engine once it made its way back to GM in a separate story." - C & D, Aug 26, 2022:
Roughly six weeks later, the CT5-V was back, and we started a 1500-mile stint of restraint to break in the new V-8—keeping engine speeds below 4000 rpm, no wide-open throttle or constant vehicle speeds. The engine swap was covered under warranty, although we got charged $50 for fuel used to test the new engine after it was installed.
(Gotta dig that. What if they said they used $5000 worth of fuel?)
"GM To Fix 2022 Cadillac XT4 Parking Assist Telltale Illumination Issue" - G.M. Authority, Aug 30, 2022

Caddy is appropriately named after the guy who schleps your golf clubs around. As GM's half-baked luxury division, it never ceases to embarrass.

Cadillacs were mostly just gilded Chevys, sometimes too obviously. The simple problem with Cadillac, that persists to this day, is that they never took it seriously past the 1960s. You can't have a Chevyllac in this day and age, when there is Mercedes and there is Lexus and a number of other quality marques.

At the near-death moment, they decided to "save the brand," and started an initiative to make "sporty Cadillacs," but didn't commit the budget or the common sense to do it properly. It was the GM "lipstick on a pig" approach.

And, crucially, Caddies were never intended to be sporting. What was needed was an effort from scratch that should have been processed the way Toyota did when starting Lexus: produce an initial, superior car, from scratch, price it to be an unusually good bargain, and build the brand from there, adding new product when suitable.

Now, it's pretty much just the Escalade that's keeping Cadillac above water.

Celestiq

And now they're taking another kick at the "luxury" can, with the "Celestiq" boondoggle. (Pronounced "Sill-ess-tick," (or maybe not, they can't get their story straight) presumably as in "celestial.") This amateurish piece of plop, we predict, will rival the Mercedes-Benz "Maybach" debacle for losses and absurdity. My word! No surprise, that such a misguided, malformed cartoon car should be forced out of the stinking bowels of a car company that long ago lost its way. Incredibly, they're suggesting a price of $340,000.00+ for it!

Listen: This plop-thing is not only a stylistic nightmare, but no one wants to pay over $340k for another of GM's experiments. It suffers from all the problems of being all-electric, and from the bulk of this beast, it's even more prone to range anxiety.

The mental midgets that designed and approved this have: "Make super-duper-luxory car call reel fancy name something fancy. Make peeples pay lots of moneys for. Make lots of moneys. And alextic for Climate Change," running a train through their pea-brains.

First, they need something that can be mentioned in the same breath as the Mercedes S-class. Good luck with that. Then work on something that is comparable to Bentley and Rolls. Never gonna happen. Instead they think they can leap-frog all the way to the top, without doing the necessary work. They're disgusting imbeciles, and there's some shady reason why they're in their positions, that has nothing to do with ability, but can only be attributed to some kind of cronyism or nepotism.

Celestiq mule testing
Celestiq inspiration
Celestiq concept

Now look at what could have been produced, and weep, or at least sniffle.

2011 Cadillac Ciel concept on the road
2011 Cadillac Ciel concept front
2011 Cadillac Ciel concept rear

That Ciel calls back to the '59 Eldorado and the '67 Eldorado.

2013 Elmiraj concept front
2013 Elmiraj concept rear

The Elmiraj might be called a modern take on the "personal luxury" car.

They red-lighted these two cars, Ciel and Elmiraj, based on nonsense excuses, because there is obviously an element at work that is sabotaging the corporation, though certainly incompetence plays a role. The Ciel and Elmiraj styling make those vehicles a sure bet, meeting with wide praise. How, then, do they have money for the Celestiq farce, when they couldn't pony up for the Ciel?

Well, there's a little more to it. They usually build on existing platforms, to save money, and reuse the same components wherever possible. Presumably they couldn't just grab something from the parts bin, or recycle old chassis for the Ciel and Elmiraj. Which means they lack the self-confidence to commit to the required extra investment to make those cars properly, not good when you're running a car company.

Cimarron

The 1982-88 Cimarron, was their biggest fiasco to date, but there were others, and you could include all of Cadillac's sedans and coupes for at least the last 10 years, which just never caught the public's fancy.

Allante

1993 Cadillac Allante

But sometimes Cadillac division really tried and just couldn't excel. This GM blunder, produced for the 1987-93 model years, wasn't as catastrophic, but was stupid in execution. They spent too much money building it overseas and shipping it back from Europe. Plus it had its share of woes, was only a two-seater, and was too expensive.

It only broke even, which is to say it was a failure, when they could have set up an assembly line in the US, flying the Italian craftsmen over, rather than the "air assembly line, flying the car bodies over from Italy at a high price." Idiocy. Perhaps it would have been better suited to remain an interesting concept car, with an eye to a sporty and/or smaller Cadillac to be produced later as a two-door version of the Seville.

Seville

(Hover image to see the Chevrolet Nova)

Here is an instance where they did something right: In 1975, they tweaked and re-skinned the Nova, hung a presumptuously huge price tag on it, and called it a Cadillac Seville. In this case, the Nova wasn't so bad, so the Seville wasn't a failure. In fact, the Nova Seville was a coup, and, due to some diligence, made a decent smaller, cleverly styled Cadillac.

It takes a close examination of the two vehicles depicted above to recognize that they're the bones of the same car underneath. There was a time when GM styling led the world.

VW

Were they trying to protect GM by weakening Volkswagen with the stunt they pulled? VW has probably the best finished small cars. Unfortunately, they are very expensive, and not very reliable. $26,000 for a nicely equipped Golf.

But after reviewing both sides of the story on that debacle where VW was pilloried, scorned and fined, with its executives brought up on charges, we see that its "emissions scandal" was a ridiculous witch hunt.

The VW case is rather sad, and they didn't have the guts to fight back. In some cases they withdrew their excellent diesel engines from the market.

The problem had nothing to do with "cheating," they were attacked because their engines were too good, (when they're working, that is), providing good mileage plus low emissions. If they're using less gas, it doesn't matter if emissions are slightly higher than claimed, because you have to multiply consumption by emissions to come up with total pollution.

Besides that, the engines did achieve what they advertised, but the engine controls tweaked the engines to produce less oxides of nitrogen when the car's computer detected it was being tested, a minor "cheat."

Actually, all the manufacturers use some sort of "cheat," since it seems no cars actually perform to their tested numbers in the real world. VW met the specified numbers under testing conditions, so it isn't as though they bribed someone to look the other way and fill in bogus figures. It's just it couldn't meet their optimum results all at the same time (fuel mileage, emissions levels and power).

Think of all those harpies howling for blood over something like this, when all their own real sins are tucked away, hidden in obscurity.

The Ford Motor Company

Adulteration

Notice the weird way everything is adulterated in foods, to the point where it's hard to find something like a simple juice without artificial sweeteners and other additives? And then, if you do find reconstituted real juices, they're extra-diluted with water, a new scam to hide the cost cutting. I doubt it's all inflation, especially when wages are stagnant and businesses are consolidating into monopolies, with monopoly price fixing -- and vertical integration. They just want enormous, even larger profits, using inflation as an excuse, so they dog-pile on we poor suckers.

"Retro-modern" Ford Thunderbird

2002 Ford Thunderbird

The 2002 Thunderbird is a good example of this adulteration in automotive terms. This blob design was in keeping with the times -- even Mercedes utilized this type of ugly sculpting. When it was new, it seemed fresh, but the laziness of those smoothed and simplified designs often doesn't hold up.

blobby 2000 Mercedes ML430

This was produced when the so-called jellybean was their ultimate expression of "modern." The shaved, contoured styling ruined a lot of cars, like Mercedes, because it ultimately looked cheap. And it is, so that period in design was ideal for the penny-pinchers at Ford.

They thought they really had something with that chintzy little knock-off, that Playskool simulation, but it wasn't. Not a real Thunderbird. The original was classy, with substance. The new one, which may have been exciting at first glance, if you didn't have anything to compare it to, is a disappointment.

We've seen that horrible catfish maw somewhere else before... but where? Where? Ah, yes: Studebaker Hawk!

1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk

If anyone is still fooled by that T-Bird, an evaluation reveals too much flex on bumps, two-seat impracticality, reduced trunk space, and a lousy convertible top that gets creased up and mangled in its storage area, among other problems. If the Chinese had done this, what would our thoughts be? Probably less favorable, that it was a mocking imitation.

Based on the Lincoln LS model, mediocre at best, the 2002 Blunderbird came with self-inflicted problems that were completely unnecessary, but are so typical of Ford. It was based on an expensive/cheap platform -- poorly engineered, but probably expensive for Ford due to poor effort and execution. It was space inefficient, and only a two-seater (in this iteration), when they already know a four-seater is required for much better sales. That lousy, awkward convertible top was inexplicable from a company that knew how to successfully tuck an entire solid roof in the trunk back in the 1950s! The car flexed like Gumby and was basically a piece of plop.

Chrysler made similar mistakes with its Prowler, and inflicted another: it only ran a V-6, not an eight! But they at least had an excuse -- it was a styling exercise meant to test the use of aluminum in their cars, and Ma Mopar never expected or tried to sell many.

One thing about convertibles, though. They are criticized for being noisy and having less protection, but there's no reason now, with carbon fiber and better insulation, many more cars can't be hardtop convertibles. It's simple prudence, since convertibles hold their value better. With some flex engineered into the solid tops, they could be designed to easily fit in the trunk space. People who don't like being wind-buffeted, seemingly have forgotten to only have the top down for low-speed cruising.

The 2002 T-Bird was an attempt by Ford to produce something "luxurious," when it wasn't, but it could make a very nice lower-tier car.

Giving the 2002 T-Bird another look, the vehicle would have made an ideal different model, with a few tweaks to the front and rear clip and rear fenders. Make it a four-seater (easy enough, the platform it's based on was). And strengthen the chassis so cutting the roof for a convertible doesn't turn the car into a stick of warm butter.

Mad Magazine didn't suffer Fords lightly.

The Furd Foulcar

Let's also take another look at that old bucket, the "Furd Foulcar," which could be resurrected quite nicely.

Falcon

T-Bird with Falcon face

Now, don't look too hard at this mashup with the Falcon face grafted on the 2002 T-Bird. It's just a crude paste-over, we're not impressing anyone with graphic artistry. But it looks about 10,526 times better anyway. Authentic, whereas what they actually produced is artificial. The original Thunderbird was detailed and artful, the lazy 2002 washout is a caricature, not an homage.

You might want to modernize the Falcon front clip somewhat, but it looks just fine as is. The chrome bumper looks good too, or it might also look nice in other appearance treatments. Why not bring that type of bumper back for some cars? They were more effective, too. Well, you know why, they save sixteen cents a car or something without them.

Yes, cars now have "safety standards," that limit their design choices, but those standards are a bunch of noise. Nothing in the "standards" seems to prohibit the worst offenders, the lumbering behemoths, like Cadillac Escalades, tearing up and down the roads.

Here's something delightful: Make those target sights on the front fenders the turn signals, the amber turn signals in the bumper the fog lamps. It looks like the Stude already did this trick with the turn signals.

A Word about Ego & Tunnel Vision

They set out to design a "luxury-sport" car with the 2002 Bird, and didn't realize, in their ego, that they failed at both luxury and sport. However, they did a design for a different car that isn't bad, as we see, when it is re-purposed. But again, in their ego, they never thought to do that. Well, it's not necessarily ego, but tunnel vision. They were fixated on a "sport luxury design," and it didn't work out that way. Or, they considered their instincts flawless, and were wrong.

It's a funny thing. How do you set out to "design a luxury car?" What's fun is to look at Chinese designers' ideas of "luxury," or old Russian Volgas for your dose of "people not clear on the concept." Same thing happens on occasion with American, German and Japanese products, though usually not so woeful.

Design Tricks

We could make the Falcon a little longer, as seen here.

T-Bird with lengthened Falcon face

But that would make it look less of an economy car in this case, so we reserve the slight front lengthening for the Mustang, below. It's a design trick, and an economical way to share a platform, the important dimensions of a car, while making it appear they are different cars. It's cheap to extend the front clip out as you like ahead of the front wheels, whereas stretching the distance between the wheels or between front wheels and windshield pillar is costly.

Speaking of design tricks, note the positioning of the headlights, high on the fenders of the 2002. Part of what makes a modern car look modern was introduced in the 1960s, by GM, by lowering the position of the headlights in the grille. So, in a way, the front face of the 1963 Falcon looks more modern than the 2002 Bird.

Explaining the Mustang

The 2002 T-Bird design suits the Mustang too. In fact it's a massive improvement over all the modern Mustangs, which are too chunky and heavyset, and overdone.

T-Bird with Mustang face

The Mustang was originally successful because it was relatively inexpensive, because it was a Falcon. Nowadays, to drive proudly home in a new Mustang costs about 50% more money in real terms. That is, the thing is overpriced. Ford might tell you, "Oh, we couldn't do a Falcon based on the LS platform, it would cost too much." BS. They designed the platform poorly and inefficiently, that's all, and tried to recoup losses by selling cars on the platform for an astronomical sum.

This use of the LS platform for the Falcon and Mustang would have been an efficient use for economy of scale.

Comparison

The first strip below provides a comparison of the old vehicles, we have '57 T-Bird, '63 Falcons and the '66 Mustang... looks like a Shelby with some mods? Well, it's a classic Mustang face with a few embellishments. The second strip compares the 2002 Bird, short and longer Falcon mock-ups, and Mustang mock-up.

old cars compared
modifications compared

Manufacturers' Tricks

There's another reason they wouldn't make this more elegant-looking, stylish Falcon, though.

Modern cars are priced in the ionosphere, yet they often give you only crap for your money, especially if you aren't shelling out the really big bucks. It's yet another slap in the face. It's incomprehensible, how a car can be priced at an average annual salary after taxes, just for a "family sedan," never mind insurance, gas, oil and maintenance, cleaning, parking, tickets...

You know, people might like to have a luxurious-looking car even when they spend less. It's still a lot of money, even for an economy car, why shouldn't they get something that looks decent? It doesn't cost any more to provide luxurious styling cues, but they want to rub people's noses in it if they only pay for an "economy car." Another industry trick, of course.

Lincoln

Always looking over its shoulder at Cadillac, Lincoln is forever an also-ran. It has had somewhat of a resurgence with its Navigator SUV, but everyone's bringing in the moolah on SUVs these days. Even Jeep is managing to sell some of its humongous Wagoneers and Grand Wagoneers.

Versailles

(Hover image to see the Ford Granada, which was also presented for sale as the Mercury Monarch)

Ford's laughable antics with Lincoln are legendary, too. The tarted-up heap called Versailles was Ford's Cimarron, but the puny effort failed, rightfully. It was almost indistinguishable from the donor Granada and only lasted from 1977-80.

No issues there, trying to see the similarities!

Pinto

Humans really are a gullible lot to ever set foot into a Ford dealership. Ford released the Pinto for the 1971 model year, thinking, based on a Cost-Benefit analysis, that they'd pay out $49MM (million) in damage claims for this flawed vehicle, but it would cost a total of $113MM to redesign the car (@$11/car) -- but there's a logic gap here: this means they thought they were going to sell 10,000,000+ Pintos! Was there no consideration of how catastrophic their sales drop-off would be when people refused to sit in their firetraps? Or their other cars, which no one should buy to this day. How could they possibly guess that payouts will only be $49MM? Sure, there's actuarial tables, court historical records and all that, but how can you be sure that will be complete or representative of the future? You can't.

There's this consistent lament that: "Juries are notoriously unpredictable." Meaning: You can't predict how much the juries are going to make you pay out, which could be a whopping figure.

In the case of the Pinto, it was. A jury awarded $125MM in punitive damages in one court case, but an appeals court judge overturned that, reducing it to $3.5MM. Nevertheless, people started to avoid the Pinto, and moved to other makes, which was pretty devastating to the Ford swine.

It was criminal negligence causing death. Still, the saps just keep buying Fords.

It's not credible that this was anything but premeditated murder, and why? Because they wanted to. And they knew they could get away with it. It wouldn't have cost $113MM to "redesign the car," to simply move the gas tank. What then, do they think it cost to design the whole car, with hundreds of parts? A trillion? It's apparent that the executive suite of most, if not all, corporate entities, is psychotic, certainly at Ford. Again, there was no way to assess what damages would come to, unless they knew they had the courts in their pockets.

There were cost-effective measures to improve the problem, known at the time. The cost was from $1 for a protective piece of plastic to $5 for an in-tank rubber bladder. No redesign required.

So, there's something wrong about their story, and a dark secret lurking just under the surface of all this gloss and rhetoric.

They are stupid, of course, with the nepotism and favoritism, ass-licking and so on, that goes on in the corporate management suite, but this stupid? It's possible. But the more logical conclusion is the grim fact that they were indifferent to murder, and were relying on their control over government to smooth the waters for them. If that fails, there are always bailouts, of course, but also influence peddling, where the government intervenes on behalf of corporations by buying their product or making regulations in their favor.

What a goofy story, too. This "it'll cost $10, $11 to fix that per car" glib nonsense they also used to explain away the Chevy Corvair's flaws. Why not just leave off the shocks and springs, too? They cost money. Their attitude doesn't make any sense. If you have a design flaw, you always must fix it (of course, in this case, it looks like they got to production with the design flaw in place -- which sort of negates the meaning of "design"). If you must, and want to keep your price point on the base car, charge a buck or two more, here and there, for options like a radio or turn signals and headlights. Or beef up the ads telling what a revolutionary car you have to create greater demand, even if you have to explain why you charge a few bucks more.

People will pay more for a nice-looking car, and the Corvair and Pinto were pretty snazzy, for the day. They had some elasticity for the price point, that is, so it's not credible that a few bucks more on the price would kill sales.

It's a harsh conclusion, but these corporate murderers are granted a license to kill by a complacent public and a complicit government.

The reasoning behind it, because it's not all pure sadism? Government loves this stuff because they use it as distraction from other scandals, and for grandstanding, when they hold "public hearings," "government inquiries," and the trials, to, paradoxically, make themselves look good, and the suckers eat it up like a dog going back to its vomit. Wake up, suckers.

The Mustang and Crown Vic had the same issues with dangerous design leading to fires. As did the Chevette.

Comments from Ford videos:

(Shoddy construction)

Ford STILL puts PROFIT ahead of quality and safety. There have been many examples of poor Ford quality since 1971, including deaths and major component failures due to saving as little as $1.00 per vehicle. For example, circa 2005 Explorers timing chain tensioner changed to plastic to save $1.00 per vehicle caused many thousands of catastrophic engine failures and deaths as well as many faulty transmissions in other vehicles that would slip into gear when car engine was on and in park; many people were maimed and killed because of these known problems. Ford has shown a pattern and practice of purposefully concealing harmful defects in its vehicle that have cause many thousands of injuries and deaths. Does this sound like an automotive company you want to trust the life of your wife, children and grandchildren in their vehicles???

Also: I had a 71 mustang up on jacks and it was the same thing. Tank held up with metal straps essentially attached to the rear of car.

(The Ford "Ecoboost" four-cylinder often only lasts 60,000 miles, before needing a rebuild!)

Ford is in a class action lawsuit for this very engine used in the Escapes and Fusions. The cooling channels cut into the cylinder heads are allowing coolant to enter the cylinders and ruining engines. Ford was aware of the problem and did nothing to rectify it. Buddy of mine had one that he bought from our company fleet when it was done being used as a company vehicle. At 61K miles, the engine blew just like this one and Ford wouldn't help him at all despite our large fleet contract and it was only 1K miles outside of warranty (but still within the 5 year period).

Iaccoca, in charge at Ford during the time of the Pinto, said "Safety doesn't sell," though in his defense, Ford did try to use safety as a gimmick in the past, touting seat belts, padded dash, etc. They thought consumers didn't go for it. But they implemented and sold it in the wrong way. Why should they be able to charge extra, anyway for "safety features," when their cars should be inherently safe?

Simple solution: Everyone, stop buying Fords!

Spottswoode: Standing in Their Way

We already had the solution to issues like the Ford Motor Company, too, when corporations had enforced expiry dates. But nevertheless, its corporate status needs to be removed, and the abomination that is Ford removed from the earth.

The '50s and '60s Styling Revolutions

Chrysler started a design revolution with its 1957 cars that were "longer, lower, wider," as seen in the video above. The streamlined, sophisticated cars were a complete, refreshing modernization from "bowler hat" styling. But they didn't know where to go from there, and simply kept doing variations on the same theme. It took GM to step forth with that idea to simply lower the headlights in the grille, and push the wheels outward, closer to the sides of the car.

Pontiac took advantage. It advertised hard, the "Wide Track" look of its cars, and they did look fantastic. All cars today carry the influence from those breakthroughs from Chrysler and GM.

1965 Pontiac Grand Prix

Design Tips for the Manufacturers

Here's a design tip: If you must go retro, you need some frills and frippery, the sculpting, heavy chrome and fine details those early models possessed.

As example, the BMW Mini has what seems like very high quality chrome trim, particularly striking at the headlight surrounds. That is a skillful imagining of old styling cues.

2014 BMW Mini hatch

A second thing, and a very important point they really should take heed of: They should, but don't tend to, produce multiple designs at once, case in point: the Chrysler 300. They should have had freshenings, updates and redesigns in the bag for the next decade at least before release of the new 2005 model, instead of freezing up and finally, too much later, releasing a tired, lukewarm effort that diluted the original appeal of the vehicle.

By doing your new design, plus several updates in advance, you have enough to do updates for the next 12-15 years, or 4-5 refreshes. Styles will have changed by then, so then you can do a larger revision. They obviously didn't do that with the 300, and sales suffered needlessly.

2006 Chrysler 300

With the 300, they already have an ideal form for a large car, and they could get away with making fewer, minor changes at each update. They say it's like a Bentley, why not embrace that and use a few more cues from that make?

modified Chrysler 300C

The aftermarket had already been playing with the grille since almost the beginning. But adding the Bentley headlights makes for an interesting change, too.

The Horrors

(hover picture to pause scrolling, use left and right arrows or thumbnails to navigate)

For those wondering, it isn't a case of hindsight being 20/20 or other BS. It was apparent at the time, that most car flops would be flops. You think anyone thought the Edsel was attractive? "My, what a beautiful car," people were lining up in praise? No, it made people avert their eyes, or shake their heads in disgust! Jokes abounded regarding the Edsel. Except for the Ford fanboys and die-hards. If you served them up plop on toast and put a Ford blue oval on it, they'll buy it. It seems every make has its indiscriminate boobs who will buy its crap, no matter what.

Oh, there were many more disasters, but not many that flaunt themselves so shamelessly.

Some people don't care for some of the small cars that came out in the '70's, like Pinto, Vega and Mustang II, but they were somewhat attractive cars that could've and should've been salvaged. They were disasters in their own right, but if the companies had committed to improving them, they would have been a decent response to the Japanese invasion that devastated the domestic makers.

Summary

There are no "problems" when there are solutions. "Renewables," "car pollution," and the like are now proven non-issues.

That the solutions aren't implemented means there is no will to implement them, not that there is a chronic problem.

We've already visited some solutions in previous blogs, like how hemp oil provides a limitless, endlessly renewable source of oil.

Which would be good, even though oil isn't running out and cannot run out in 20 years, or 200 years. Recall that the oil already has run out, according to failed past "predictions." But remember: There is no end to the hemp oil that can be grown, and the stuff is a weed (heh-heh, weed) that grows almost anywhere. And no end to the alcohol that can be produced. And, those fuels are cleaner burning. In fact, the Koenigsegg engine cleans the air as it runs (in already polluted places, mind you, but beggars can't be choosers).

As to the matter of design, it looks like the manufacturers still have a lot to learn. They stumble around, basically waiting for some talented genius to come rescue them. Guys like Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, John DeLorean, Virgil Exner or Elwood Engel. It's amazing that these companies can endure for 100 years plus, yet they seem to retain no accumulated knowledge over those years that would make their work easier and more effective. They still bungle and stumble their way through, hit and miss, like drunken toddlers. Well, that's another one of the weird follies of life, apparently.

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