Posts tagged ‘Chrysler’


Autocade hits 1,500-model milestone

08.05.2011

Thanks most recently to the work of Keith Adams, who added numerous important models into Autocade, we now have reached 1,500 models. The 1,500th is a bit mainstream, but after all the odd cars we’ve put in over the last three years, it’s nice to have something almost everyone knows.

Image:Audi_TTS.jpgAudi TT (8J). 2006 to date (prod. unknown). 3-door coupé, 2-door convertible. F/F, F/A, 1798, 1984 cm³ petrol, 1968 cm³ diesel (4 cyl. DOHC), 2480 cm³ (5 cyl. DOHC), 3189 cm³ (V6 DOHC). More muscular, grown-up TT, longer and wider than predecessor, and on PQ35 platform. Aluminium in front bodypanels, and steel in rear, to help weight distribution. Excellent handling and roadholding. Diesel from 2008. V6 to 2010; TTS’s turbocharged four had more power and replaced the V6 in some markets earlier. TT RS from 2009, with 340 PS.

   But I couldn’t let this post go without mentioning a few oddities. And since this blog started as a branding one, maybe these are good examples of what not to do if you want to build your model lines.
   Each of the following cars, added this year into Autocade, had the listed nameplate for one year, or an even shorter period. There are many more at the site, but these four came to mind first.
   If you want to confuse your customers, and flush marketing dollars down the toilet, then renaming after a year is the way to go.

Image:1975_Buick_Apollo.jpgBuick Apollo (X-car). 1975 (prod. unknown). 4-door sedan. F/R, 231 in³ (V6 OHV), 250 in³ (6 cyl. OHV), 260, 350 in³ (V8 OHV). Last use of short-lived Apollo name for Buick’s Chevrolet Nova (1975–9) twin. Same platform as before, but restyled; two-doors now called Skylark, which four-door would be called after this model year. Better outward vision; Chevrolet Camaro (1970–81) suspension helped handling and ride. Buick V6 used instead of Chevy unit, which meant the Apollo was more durable, but average reliability only.

Image:Pontiac_J2000.jpgPontiac J2000 (J-car). 1982 (prod. unknown). 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon, 2- and 3-door coupé. F/F, 1835, 1999 cm³ (4 cyl. OHV). Pontiac version of GM’s world J-car project, most closely related to Chevrolet Cavalier (1982–94). Similar body styles and comments, but with more dramatic front end. Labelled J2000 only for one year, when it was replaced by the 2000, an identical car with engine changes.

Image:2006_Lincoln_Zephyr.jpgLincoln Zephyr (CD378). 2006 (prod. unknown). 4-door sedan. F/F, 2967 cm³ (V6 DOHC). Single-year entry for revived Lincoln Zephyr name, before car renamed to MKZ for 2007 (even the renaming was botched, with Lincoln staff calling it ‘Mark Z’ before saying the letters). Basically a glorified Mazda Atenza, on that car’s platform, and too similar to Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan duo. Good equipment levels but best thought of as a Mercury with all the trimmings and the 3·0-litre Duratec V6.

   Finally, so it’s not all US-market cars, though this company was owned by Chrysler when this model emerged for a short period in 1970:

Image:1970_Sunbeam_Vogue.jpgSunbeam Vogue (Arrow). 1970 (prod. unknown). 4-door saloon, 5-door estate. F/R, 1725 cm³ (4 cyl. OHV). Very short-lived Arrow variant as the last Singer model transferred to Sunbeam from April 1970. The situation lasted half a year, and Sunbeam resorted to selling the Imp, Stiletto, Rapier and Alpine instead. In some countries, Sunbeam Vogue was the export name for the Singer Vogue.

   Other cars of note added to the database that anoraks will enjoy include the Peugeot Roa, a 405 lookalike with Hillman Hunter running-gear, the Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300 (thanks to Keith), and one which might get BMW upset over the name, the Chang’an Benben Mini. Hop on over and if you think of a model you’d like to see, please give me a shout in the comments.

Autocade progress
March 2008: launch
July 2008: 500 (four months for first 500)
June 2009: 800
December 2009: 1,000 (17 months for second 500)
January 2011: 1,250
May 2011: 1,500 (17 months for third 500)

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Chrysler is Detroit-thug tough

07.02.2011

To take a leaf from Adland, where this is hosted, Chrysler’s message is: buy this ugly car or Eminem will beat you up.
   To be fair, the cinematographer has picked some good angles for the 200 so it doesn’t look like a rehashed Sebring. Shooting it at night minimizes the harsh realities of the centre section. And the commercial has a nice feel to it: it’s not a stereotypical pull-the-patriotic-heartstrings American one, but one which does convey what the script says: we’ve been through hard times, we’re realistic, and, therefore, we understand you more. We also see Chrysler not pulling any fake snobbery, though admittedly the DaimlerChrysler AG days ruined any chance of the company having luxury pretensions for a while.
   It doesn’t make me want to rush out and get one of these cars, but I’ll say one thing: at least it’s not a Lancia commercial adapted for the US, as I don’t think the first one worked particularly well. Though this one from 2008 might not be so bad if the Delta gets there:

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Roy Axe gives a sincere look at his career

11.12.2010

Roy Axe: A Life in Style

Keith Adams is well known to many motorheads out there. We probably encountered him initially at his excellent AROnline, formerly The Unofficial Austin–Rover Resource. More recently, some of us have got to know Keith as a writer for Octane, where his well researched articles remind me of some of the best motoring journalists’ work. They combine a love of history with a contemporary style.
   Keith turned publisher earlier this year by publishing automotive designer Roy Axe’s autobiography, A Life in Style. I was more than happy to purchase it: this is not a review of a freebie copy that Keith gave me.
   The book serves its purpose in giving a very sincere look at Axe’s career, beginning at Rootes, before his national service, then continuing with the same firm and setting up a design department closer to the ones we know today, before its takeover by Chrysler. Then at Chrysler, Axe worked on both sides of the Atlantic (various 180 and Avenger proposals are fascinating), and headed the programmes that gave us the Simca 1307 and Horizon; and in the 1980s, Axe was head-hunted for Austin Rover.
   After leaving Rover, he founded his own firm, Design Research Associates, which has worked on designs for numerous international clients.
   The book reflects the career of a true gentleman. Axe supplies wonderful anecdotes from his earlier days and he, and presumably Keith, supply some never-before-seen (at least to me) images of prototypes from the studios. DRA’s work is too new to be revealed, and Axe considers that he is bound by client confidentiality on a lot of those projects, with the exception of one for Bentley and some BAe aircraft interiors.
   It is a must for car buffs, as Axe’s designs will have been seen in most corners of the world and, as all books of this type, reveal some wonderful “might-have-beens” at Chrysler (which was increasingly strapped for cash in the 1970s) and Austin Rover (which seemed always strapped for cash in the 1980s, and hindsight says it should have gone with far more of Axe’s team’s designs). It makes for fun comparison with, say, Iacocca: an Autobiography when discussing the era that Axe and his boss were at the company, and seeing the same personalities mentioned, albeit from different angles. The story is told with a personal love for the industry and a great deal of authenticity.
   My principal complaint is the lack of subediting. While there are precious few spelling mistakes—much heftier tomes, such as one John Barry biography I bought years ago, were full of them—parts of a few chapters read as a simple transcript from Axe. And, perhaps for budgetary reasons or the size of the original artwork, some of the images are a bit small. Initially, the underleaded Sabon body type appeared hard to read but surprisingly, I soon adjusted to it, thanks perhaps in part to the good stories that Axe had to tell.
   Despite these reservations, I’d still heartily recommend it. You can order it directly from Keith’s website and it’s perfect for anyone who loves the design profession or cars in general. Even those of you who read this blog for its branding content might be fascinated to see how brands are translated into industrial design (especially important when Austin Rover and Honda worked off the same platforms), and, for that matter, the organizational structure.
   Sadly, Roy Axe passed away soon after the book’s publication, otherwise I am sure he will have received a great deal of fan mail over it.

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A tribute to those special Ks

10.01.2010

I believe we have all the basic Chrysler K-cars of the early 1980s on Autocade as of today.
   Older readers might remember that at the dawn of the 1980s, Chrysler was in terrible shape and needed loan guarantees—as opposed to a bailout—from the US Government. With Chairman Lee Iacocca at the helm, the company downsized, switched to fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive cars, and improved its quality. Chrysler’s range, by 1985, was probably more international than GM North America’s—in that models like the minivan and the LeBaron GTS could have found customers outside the continent. (GM could never have sold the Chevrolet Celebrity to European buyers, for example.) Chrysler also paid back its loan early.
   These K-cars, which look boxy today, but which looked fresh and modern to US consumers in the early 1980s, were the backbone of Chrysler’s comeback. The minivan was based off a modified K platform, as was most of Chrysler’s offerings that decade (with the exception of the M-body intermediates, now marketed as full-size cars).
   As a tribute to Chrysler of old, here are the Ks.
 

Image:1982_Dodge_Aries.jpg

Dodge Aries (K-car). 1981–9 (prod. 999,999). 2- and 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon. F/F, 2213, 2507, 2555 cm³ (4 cyl. OHC). Much-vaunted K-car, credited with saving Chrysler from bankruptcy along with Plymouth Reliant twin. Efficient, roomy car with claimed room for six adults, though compact dimensions outside. Facelift in 1985. Four-door sedan only for final model year, 1989.
 

Image:1981_Plymouth_Reliant.jpg

Plymouth Reliant (K-car). 1981–9 (prod. 1,120,000 approx.). 2- and 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon. F/F, 2213, 2507, 2555 cm³ (4 cyl. OHC). Plymouth edition of much-vaunted K-car, credited with saving Chrysler along with Dodge Aries twin. Reliant name meant to signal better quality than outgoing Plymouth Volaré, and it was an improvement. Competent, roomy and functional; sold on value for money. Mid-term facelift for 1985 model year.
 

Image:1983_Dodge_400_Convertible.jpg

Dodge 400 (K-car). 1982–3 (prod. 57,401). 2-door sedan, 2-door convertible. F/F, 2213, 2555 cm³ (4 cyl. OHC). Upscale version of Dodge Aries, fitting between that model and Chrysler’s LeBaron. Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca believed that there was a market for factory convertibles, and introduced the corporation’s first since the 1971 Challenger. The bet proved successful. Otherwise, the 400 was fairly close to Aries, with the 2·2-litre engine by Chrysler and a larger unit by Mitsubishi. Range absorbed into the Dodge 600 range.
 

Image:1982_Chrysler_LeBaron.jpg

Chrysler LeBaron (K-car). 1982–8 (prod. 1,105 Town and Country convertible only). 2- and 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon, 2-door convertible, 4-door LWB sedan, 4-door LWB limousine. F/F, 2213, 2507, 2555 cm³ (4 cyl. OHC). Upscale version of K-car, with first American factory convertible since 1976 Cadillac Eldorado débuting for 1982 as part of its range. More formal appearance, vinyl roof on sedans, different grille and more chrome compared with other Ks. Only K with a turbocharged variant of the 2·2 available, which produced more horsepower than the V8 in the earlier LeBaron. Wagon, called Town and Country, available, with simulated wood panelling on sides; Town and Country convertible made from 1983 to 1986. Stretched Ks from 1983, with five-passenger Executive Sedan riding on 124 in wheelbase and seven-passenger Executive Limousine on 131 in. Refreshed for 1986 model year; two-door and convertible dropped for 1987. Sedan and wagon continued through 1988.

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