I was born in 1965, and to the best of my memory, I never saw a DeSoto being used as a daily driver. Of course, cars didn’t last quite as long in those days, and by the time I was paying attention to cars, the last of the DeSotos would have been almost 10 years old.
For as globalized as the auto business has become, you might think a brand as omnipresent as Chevrolet would sell pretty much the same lineup in every market it plays in. Turns out that’s not the case.
As fate would have it, the 2002 Eldorado would not be the last Cadillac coupe—a couple of subsequent 2-door models would relieve it of that historic burden—but by most accounts it would be the last “old-school” Caddy.
To truly excite the passions of the American automotive media, you need news that strikes close to home. International news, no matter how significant, is generally met with indifference among many U.S. auto writers. General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra and the GM board of directors opt out of the European, Indian, and South African new-vehicle markets—yawn. The Chinese government mandates that 12 percent of new vehicles retailed in China (the world’s largest new-car market) must be pure electric by 2020—whatever.
To perform a quick case study on how different the automotive world is today from what it was in 1979, consider the following:
There is a lot to be said for good automotive branding, especially good engine branding. One of the better recent efforts in this regard is Chrysler’s resurrection of the Hemi name, as applied to a new family of V8 engines that debuted for 2003.
On a per-person basis, Americans buy more new cars than do the Japanese. In 2017, for example, American buyers snatched up roughly 17.3 million cars and light trucks. That works out to approximately one car for every 18 U.S. residents.
Maybe you’ve heard of the “runner’s high,” an elusive phenomenon experienced by distance runners and other serious exercise buffs. At some point during a good, long run, an endurance-focused athlete can experience a period of euphoria that, to hear some folks tell it, makes the whole physical-exertion thing more than worth the effort.
Why would Aston Martin, a British company known for building ultra-luxury high-performance coupes, contract with Japanese automaker Toyota to build an Aston-branded version of one of the smallest, least-powerful Toyota-built cars on the market? Turns out there’s a good answer to that question, but it gets a little complicated.
The 2003-2006 Chevrolet SSR was a retro-styled convertible pickup truck, though the vehicles with which it shared its basic architecture were none of the above. It would not surprise me if the SSR was the product of a truth-or-dare game gone horribly wrong, and a group a General Motors engineers found themselves at the losing end of a sinister “dare.”