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GM should kill the Corvette

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6/25/2009 10:00 PM EDT

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StuRat
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
StuRat   7/21/2009 4:47:32 PM
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Disclosure: I am a car guy with 25 years experience with GM/Delco/Cadillac/Opel/Delphi. I had to leave Delphi, the handwriting was on the wall. Much more job security now. That said, I agree with your post that GM has plenty of talented engineers. Their engineering talent was quite abundant. I don't know if I can still say that, lots of talent has left or been chased off by the less than stellar management. Their leadership, much less their management, has sadly nose-dived, and it didn't begin with Roger B. Smith, although he definitely did his share of damage. When the management focus is on cutting costs, instead of developing quality, competitive products, that is what gets accomplished. The Cimarron might have made it as an Olds, but Cadillac buyers knew what old Roger B. was up to and didn't buy it. When Congress gets done with it, GM will not resemble even its former self. Politics and engineering don't mix. GM now will have to please the labor unions, which appear to have the upper hand in this administration, along with the greenies, the taxers, and home team for the suppliers and manufacturing plants. It will not end well. If you've never driven a Trabi, a Wartburg, or a Lada, which were the products of political production committees, you might not realize how bad those cars were. The singular act that I consider the beginning of the end of GM was when they hired Ignaci Lopez and rejected Ed Deming. I knew then that Lopez's dictum "quality is a given" was code for "buy the cheapest". I saw countless suppliers whipsawed into cutting more and more cost out of products until they couldn't make a profit any more. Not saying that competitive pressure on suppliers is all bad, but like most everything, moderation is more successful than hyperzealousness. A great example of misplaced priorities and poor marketing is the Cadillac Catera, which I worked on at Opel. You might sell low-priced car insurance with a lizard, but you're not going to sell Cadillacs to Cadillac buyers with a cartoon duck. Opel Senator, which was rebadged for Cadillac as the Catera, is my concept of what Buick needs today, an affordable, reasonable performance sedan with room for 5, fuel economy, styling, and Autobahn capability for cruising and accelerating. Do they have anything like that? What is the logic in GM selling or leaving their small car expertise, e.g. Opel, NUMMI? Last I checked, the Vibe had higher JDPower numbers than the Matrix. Has Pontiac pushed that? Nope, Pontiac's going to be pushing daisies. Reason: Can you tell a G6 from a G8 from a Mitsubishi from a Nissan driving down the road? Not till you get real close. Pontiac always had distinctive styling. Anybody have any problems spotting a new Mustang? The last GTO was a hot car, but you couldn't tell it from a G6. Like other posters, it has nothing to do with FWD, RWD, or any of that, MB and BMW have still made it work in the most demanding market - Germany, although they have home field advantage there. My social and geopolitical conscience is clean, I drive 2 Flex-fuel vehicles which run cleaner, although at a sacrifice of fuel economy, but promotes energy independence and returns profits to the Rust Belt, not Jihadistan. The carbon/green footprint of my '99 Tahoe is much lower than the toxic chemicals in the hybrid batteries that will someday inhabit the landfills, and the energy cost of the new vehicle production. How much more energy does it take to build a new "green" car than it does to keep a "clunker" on the road? If the infrastructure was there to support an E100 engine design that wasn't compromised for burning gasoline, the MPG would be comparable due to the more efficient burning (less unburned fuel -> less pollution). Don't say it can't be done, Brazil has already done it. We may need a few more years to get algae, cellulosic, or some other technologies up to speed, but it can be done, along with biodiesel.

Quickbadger
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
Quickbadger   7/14/2009 3:44:44 PM
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I stand corrected. I was mainly commenting on the commentors. I think you do have an interesting point; just concerned where all this "green" mania is taking us. I've always been a Ford man, now I drive all Dodge, and have never liked GM. I could just be biased, but every GM rental car I have had exposed serious quality issues as compared to similarly used Ford, Toyota, and Nissan rentals. Thanks for starting the disscussion!

capriracer351
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
capriracer351   7/11/2009 9:05:06 PM
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The orginal GT 40's that dominated in the mid and late '60's were powered by 289 pushrod engines. It took a lot of development to wring out the power needed to take on the likes of Ferrari. That would not happen today. The engines in the new Ford GT's were 5.4 Liter DOHC Supercharged engines. I believe that some of the cars used in competition are powered by Cosworth engines, not by the 5.4 factory style engine. The McGee's are a very interesting group. The family has been in racing for 60 years and have innovated all along the way. Interestingly, they are most involved in Junior dragster racing now, I think that one of their daughters are competing in one of the classes. That means they are working on extracting the maximum amount of power from small single cylinder engines (Think lawn mower engines on steroids). To my knowledge their were no pushrod Sainty engines, but I am not familiar with what they were doing in their early days. Although there are a lot of conspiracy theories to the contrary, I believe that the NHRA wanted to ban these engines before they became too prevalent because they were concerned about the safety of the drivers. There was much more potential for performance improvement than there was from the old Chrysler Hemi pushrod engine. I personally happen to be a Ford guy. I Drag Race a 351 Cleveland powered Mercury Capri (Think Fox body Mustang, but not as bland looking) Hence the moniker "capriracer351". Luckily Ford more or less started on the correct path a few years before the economy took a nose dive. Also, we have had SOHC and DOHC engines since the early 90's. Unfortunately the design of the combustion chamber is not up to snuff, therefore gas mileage is not as good as it should be. That being said, I was getting 24 miles per gallon in a mid 90's Thunderbird with a SOHC 4.6. My 3.0 DOHC Ford 500 only gets about 20 in mixed driving. Even though it is all wheel drive, this just does not make sense to me. Obviously Ford still has some work to do. I would have no problem with a 3.0 Liter turbocharged DOHC powered Corvette. It would most likely get 30 miles per gallon and outrun the current model. I agree that GM became quite complacent. The old thinking of "We will determine what the customer wants" is long over. There is too much choice and too much competition. GM had better get with the program or they could still go the way of AMC or Studebaker.

JJU
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
JJU   7/10/2009 1:00:05 PM
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"How much does today's Corvette appeal to a working class family that wants to buy a family sedan?" The answer to your once-sided question is an obvious NONE. How much does today's Corvette appeal to a working class person that enjoys the freedon and choice in America? More than you think (unless you are a Ford guy). Any yes I own two Corvettes (1963 & 2001) Why don't you attend a local car show and get the real answer (and a clue while your at it)? The technology in Corvette is shared throughout GM. You must be starved for attention. I've never heard of you prior to learning about your random thoughts and online rant. Who are you and why should anyone care what you think?

Ocelot0
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
Ocelot0   7/7/2009 8:45:40 PM
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Not a "real" question comparing the Corvette engine to the Peugeot because they are running in different classes. And the Peugeot is a diesel. Based on your "logic" so far, we should also immediately abandon all gasoline engines right now because it was a diesel that won. Cadillac did have their Northstar engine in a prototype back in the early 2000's, but racing at that level was too costly so that's why they run Corvettes instead. Plus it appeals to their main buyers more anyway than an exotic prototype.

Ocelot0
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
Ocelot0   7/7/2009 5:15:29 PM
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"I never said that pushrod engines are obsolete, only that they have not been used in high-performance engines for many years." Yeah, Corvette hasn't had ANY success running that pushrod against DOHC's at Le Mans...

dw12ate
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
dw12ate   7/7/2009 2:40:23 PM
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Moroy Marshall just does not understand the automotive industry or what happened to the once cherished makes like Chevy, Oldsmobile and Buick. To think the problem with Chevy is the current Corvette, a great car, or pushrod engines is really a waste of time, it?s irrelevant. It's like saying that MB and BMW made a great error in not adopting FWD, well we know how that worked out. It's not OHV vs. OHC or FWD vs RWD, its about having an opinion an approach, it's about integrity, people understand that. GM KILLED ITS OWN CAR COMPANIES, REPLCED THEM WITH "BRANDS" AND BECAME THE BRAND. That's its biggest and last remaining problem, but only a few can see that. Before Rodger Smith dismantled Sloan's wonderfully balanced organization "GM executives" served the "Car Companies", called divisions in the old GM. Each "Car Company" had its own identity, engineers, marketing, factories and battled for market share. Sure they shared components and there was a central design but these "Car Companies" were very independent perhaps Chevrolet the most independent. Smith's centralization TO BRING THOSE CAR COMPANIES UNDER CONTROL AND REPLACE THEM WITH BRANDS (we now have brand managers, useless) also contributed to the poor quality coming out of the newly centrally organized factories. Engineers and designers too became centralized, building a great car became secondary to the needs of the overall organization. Of course if you don't take action to correct the real problem the market will. Slowly but surely these great Car Companies, now brands, lost all meaning and become "GMs". So if Mr. Moroy and it seems many of the GM ecutives don't see the problem; the end of the "Car Companies" called Chevrolet, Pontiac, etc. is the natural outcome as we are seeing. KEEP CORVETTE, make other great cars, Kill THE GM BRAND, it's dead already and make a New Car Company with passion, with purpose --people understand that and respond. Call it "Chevrolet Motor Cars and Trucks" (they make Caddys too) -- . over the last 25 years we have learned what a great business man Mr. Sloan was and how wrong Rodger Smith was. Oh yes, Rodger also made Saturn, as if he undestood that the new GM he was creating would fail --- nice guy. Regards, dw12ate

Quickbadger
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
Quickbadger   7/7/2009 2:40:08 PM
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It seems that some engineers here need to learn more about market forces. Corvettes sell because they provide high performance and sports car styling at an (relatively) affordable price. Japanese cars sell for reasons GM can't understand: "High Quality at a Low Price". IF corvettes sold for $15K, GM could not make them fast enough. If corvettes could comfortably seat a family of 4-5 and start at $18K, GM wouldn't have to make anything else. People have certain requirements they need like seating capacity, towing capacity, trunk space, performance, etc? They will buy vehicles to meet these requirements. But purchasers will also consider other criteria to trade with the cost as long as requirements are met, such as styling, entertainment system options, drivetrain options, etc? But make no mistake COST is the driver. Hybrids, biofuels, and other alternative technologies need to stay in the lab and mature to a point of providing the same performance/price before forcing them into every market segment. Only two types of consumers are buying hybrids right now; people who pay the premium for vanity and those who are technologically ignorant enough to think they are getting something worth the extra money they spend. Diesel has a lot of potential for economy, but not since the price of diesel shot up with no hope of coming down (due in part to government low sulphur mandates). Let me guess - the article is written by one of "those" Prius drivers.

AlexKovnat
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
AlexKovnat   7/7/2009 1:00:01 PM
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I'd like to see a Corvette with a Diesel engine. It would be interesting to see what kind of fuel economy you would get with a super- or turbocharged Diesel and either a 5 speed manual or, a 6 speed double-clutch automated layshaft transmission. One of my favorite standing jokes is that the possibility of such a car is so slim, the only way a young guy can have any hope of driving a Diesel Corvette is to seek a commission as a Lieutenant in the Ecuadorian navy.

capriracer351
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re: GM should kill the Corvette
capriracer351   7/4/2009 12:35:41 AM
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In the late 80's an Australian designed engine called the McGee was campaigned for a while with minor success. In the 90's there was what was called the Sainty engine, also Australian designed that was just starting to get sorted out when the NHRA banned multi valve, overhead cam engines in the top fuel classes in '98 or '99. The author of this blog needs to get a better understanding of what is going on before he calls for the banning of the Corvette. That car is certainly not what brought GM down. It has been one of few ongoing success stories for GM in quite a long time.

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