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When you think about ¾- and 1-ton pickups, you probably think diesel engines. Any why wouldn’t you? Even the most casual industry observer is aware of the Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke brands.
It’s a popularly held position that General Motors doesn’t take enough styling chances—or at least it historically hasn’t. I would argue that there are plenty of Eighties and Nineties examples of rather sterile looking GM vehicles that support this point, but a slate of inoffensive Cieras, Malibus, and Skyhawks hardly tells the whole story. General Motors has, in fact, taken many styling chances over the years–though the results weren’t always positive.
By Frank Peiler
Studebaker introduced its Lark series of compact cars for 1959. Though fresh looking, the Lark wasn’t really as new as it seemed to be. Since Studebaker was strapped for cash, the company’s strategy with the Lark lineup was to update its six-year-old basic body structure with newly styled–and significantly shorter–front and rear sheetmetal.
Sometime in the 1930s, then General Motors’ president Alfred P. Sloan introduced what came to be known as the “ladder of success.” This metaphorical ladder would dominate GM marketing policy for decades to come.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time bemoaning the results of the Detroit downsizing movement that began in the mid-Seventies. Responding to rising fuel prices and an unusually high rate of inflation, manufacturers were desperately looking for ways to reduce materials costs and to improve fuel economy. The simplest way to achieve both goals was, apparently, to produce smaller vehicles.
In 1981, a Federal jury ruled that General Motors would have to pay $550 each to 10,000 owners of 1977 Oldsmobiles. This stiff punishment was levied because the Oldsmobiles in question came not with Oldsmobile engines, but with Chevy powerplants.
At the time, it was largely understood by the non-motoring public that GM’s placement of Chevy V8s in Oldsmobiles was an attempt to defraud buyers by slyly passing along an inferior product.
Sarcastically, it was called badge engineering. Basically, it’s the process by which an automaker amortizes development costs by retrimming an existing vehicle and selling it under another name—usually through another brand channel, or channels.
General Motors is said to be developing a new platform for the possible late-decade launch of the largest Cadillacs in recent memory, including a long-rumored “flagship sedan.” According to a recent Car and Driver report, this “Omega” architecture will take over from the Sigma platform, which dates from Cadillac’s original 2003 premium-midsize CTS, and is being engineered along the lines of the rear-drive Alpha structure that debuts with Cadillac’s 2013 ATS premium-compact sedan. C/D notes that while both architectures are scaleable, Alpha is limited to compact and midsize vehicles comparable to the BMW 3-Series and 5-Series, whereas Omega-based models can be made somewhat wider and stretched to around 207 inches overall, a footprint similar to that of BMW’s long-wheelbase 7-Series premium-large sedan.
AM General started selling the civilian version of the U.S. Army’s newest run-about vehicle in 1992. Since then it has remained a vehicle purchased by two groups of people: those looking for ultimate off-road ability and the ultra-rich seeking the ultimate status symbol.
On January 30, Ford announced a significant price cut for its Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. New Mach-E vehicles will now cost up to $5,700 less than they did at the start of the new year, though Ford has raised the mandatory manufacturer destination fee to $1,500 from $1,300.