Hooniverse Asks- What car Brands Have Been Inexorably Hurt by Their Adherence to Tradition?

Tradition is a great concept. It’s what creates a thread of consistency through our lives, and establishes acts that can tie generations together over the span of years. Of course, being held to tradition can also prevent one’s growth, and can in fact leave individuals, groups, or companies in the past.
I was thinking about this recently, contemplating how much effort Porsche has put into trying to perfect an imperfect platform- the rear engine car. The company has tried on a couple of occasions to move to layouts more appropriate for their desired sporting intentions, but their fans demand that the 911 be maintained in perpetuity, lest Porsche as a whole cease to exist as a purveyor of their own iconic traditions.
Imagine if you will if Porsche had given up on the 911 when they intended to and instead put more of their development time into other platforms like the 928 and 944. Would we have a different and better selection from Stuttgart today? There are many other examples of car manufacturers sticking to tradition, and perhaps not for the better. Today I’d like your opinion on those, and what you think might have been if they hadn’t. What car brands do you think have been hurt by tradition?
Image: Renestaud.com

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  1. PotbellyJoe Avatar

    I feel like more have been hurt by their divergence from their tradition, but if there was ever a case for stubborn adherence to formula at the detriment of product, it’s the Ford Mustang and its damned live axle.
    Drag racing, blah blah blah. You can give me any line you want on why it was kept, i don’t care. When my Pontiac Vibe can, for $17k, provide a double wishbone rear suspension, well, do it.
    They woke up for this new generation, but it was beyond annoying for a while.
    The sad part is i don’t even hate it from a product stand point. It worked admirably. I just was tired of every review of an otherwise impressive Mustang having half of a page full of annoyances and excuses.
    It was like reading 50 shades of gray, pretty soon you start flipping the pages to see if they’re done yet.

    1. JayP Avatar

      The SRA on the Mustang wasn’t a tradition since it was offered on the Cobra a few years. If anything it was a tradition to make a cheap coupe and put the money into the engine (?), maybe.
      When the Boss came out it made no excuses.
      Yeah- then the PerfPack 5.0 is faster than the 302… so, whatever.

    2. ptschett Avatar

      As much as I love it, I think the MN12 (’89-’97 Thunderbird/Cougar) is partially responsible for the delay in having an IRS in the Mustang.
      That project’s team went for the impossible goal of building a BMW 6-series competitor with a Ford pricetag. The MN12’s came out overweight, over their cost targets, and needed an urgent midcycle insertion of V8 power (first 5.0L Windsor, later 4.6L 2V Romeo) to slot between the base and supercharged V6’s. A big factor was the MN12’s IRS that used humongous cast-iron H-arms for the lower link. While it worked very well (I’ve always liked how my ’96 Thunderbird rode and drove) the MN12’s cost Ford a lot of money between the unexpected additional development costs and the resulting costs of missing weight and therefore Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets.

  2. Devin Avatar

    Bristol seems like an obvious one, only having one dealership and only selling cars to people Tony Crook likes isn’t the ideal way to run a business.

  3. ConstantReader Avatar

    Corvette. Pushrods. Rev limit. Nuff said.

    1. PotbellyJoe Avatar

      See what’s funny to me on this is that the LS7 is one of the more efficient N/A motors when it comes to power-to-weight because it is pushrods.
      It makes 505 hp, but weight 454 pounds dressed. That 1.11 hp to every pound of material. For example the Ferrari 458 F136F motor makes 562 hp, but weighs 577 pounds fully dressed. So that .97 hp per pound of material.
      That’s 14% more efficient by the Corvette. Despite the rev limit, despite the pushrods, despite all of it, it’s a better engine in the ultimate performance department of moving it’s own mass.

      1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

        While I agree with you that engine power-to-weight is a pertinent metric, I would also argue that it inherently favors large-cylinder-capacity motors because of the surface area-to-volume ratio. For the majority of applications total area under the power curve is critically important, and that’s where a smaller-cylinder-capacity engine (and the drastically increased redline) comes good. BMW did a study in the early 90s that showed the optimal cylinder volume for motorsports applications was 500-550cc (sadly most modern series govern both cylinder count and displacement).

        1. PotbellyJoe Avatar

          Not necessarily, the larger the cylinder the larger the block. Also, pistons under stresses associated with larger bore motors will in turn be larger as well.
          That’s not going into torque or other metrics. I agree that a stratospheric RPM will help the power curve overall, I would expect no other argument from an S2000 lover.

          1. PotbellyJoe Avatar

            This is where editing is great. no pistons, rods.

  4. cap'n fast Avatar
    cap’n fast

    hmmmm. taking a long view, it would have been better for manufacturers to remove the inherent rust from their vehicles by using better materials from the start. not having to haul all that incipient rust and corrosion around with the rest of the machinery would help a lot towards meeting CAFE. Hmmmm? Li/ON batteries weigh a lot less than lead acid batteries and have operational advantages. Higher buss voltage allows lighter wiring and more compact electrical components (admittedly, requiring better insulation of wiring-that doesn’t mean heavier). a lot could be done to reduce mass and weight but would require outside the box thinking and elimination of the dreaded NIH syndrome. take a hard look at Honda’s hybrid accord. if GM designed/built it, it would weigh three tons.
    I’m in CO. it’s all smoke to me…