OT: car BRAND loyalty

I recall an age poll here showing that most of you are much older than I am. I’m in my late 40s and part of the Goonies Generation and Saved By The Bell Generation.

Were you loyal to a particular car BRAND (as opposed to a manufacturer)? Why? Was anyone you know loyal to a brand? Why? As far as I could tell, every Oldsmobile ever made was a clone of something in the Buick lineup, and every Buick ever made was a cheaper Cadillac, a fancy Chevrolet, or both.

I’ve heard that there was a time when people were loyal to car brands instead of manufacturers. One example was the loyal Oldsmobile-owning father in the movie The Christmas Story. My parents have owned cars from several American and Japanese brands, but they’ve been repeat buyers of only Honda and Toyota. Thus, they clearly were NOT the targets of the redundant brands.

The Malaise Era was my childhood, though I didn’t realize at the time how awful so many cars were or how much better pre-Malaise Era cars were. (I was born and raised in the Chicago area, where a rust-free 10-year-old car was an extremely rare sight.) However, I did notice that GM, Ford, and Chrysler sold the same cars with different names. GM was the biggest offender. It seemed that Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick had the same product lineups. Some of the cars were even sold as Cadillacs. (The Cadillac Cimarron was the most notorious example.) Chrysler was the second biggest offender, because Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth seemed so interchangeable. Plymouth was dead by the time I found out that it was below Dodge in the brand hierarchy. At least Ford did a halfway decent job of distinguishing Mercury from Ford. (Or maybe I’m just thinking of the Mercury Sable, which had the laser light bar that made it look even more futuristic than the Ford Taurus.)

I know now that GM’s brands were originally intended to meet the buyer’s changing wants and needs over time. In GM’s version of utopia, people would buy a Chevrolet as their first car. As they became more upscale, they’d move up to Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick. When they finally made it big, they’d move up to Cadillac. Of course, this model had broken down many years before I was born. It seemed to me that your decision to buy a Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, or Buick was largely a function of which dealership happened to offer you the best deal.

I can understand liking GM as a whole or disliking GM as a whole, but I cannot understand liking one GM brand but disliking another. Why were there people who bought Oldsmobiles but refused to even consider the Buick version of the same car? Why were there people who bought Mercuries but refused to even consider buying the Ford version of the same car? Why were there people who bought Dodges but refused to even consider the Plymouth or Chrysler versions of the same car?

I’ve read that one reason for selling the same car under many different brands was the dealerships, who didn’t like missing out on sales of cars that didn’t fit in with their brand images. However, it’s hard to imagine a Pontiac buyer looking at Brougham land yachts instead of sporty cars or a Brougham land yacht buyer looking at Pontiacs instead of Oldsmobiles and Buicks. Pontiac wasn’t building any excitement with products that had more in common with an Oldsmobile Delta 88 or Buick estate wagon than with a GTO, Trans Am, Firebird, or Fiero.

I can understand liking GM as a whole or disliking GM as a whole, but I cannot understand liking one GM brand but disliking another. Why were there people who bought Oldsmobiles but refused to even consider the Buick version of the same car? Why were there people who bought Mercuries but refused to even consider buying the Ford version of the same car? Why were there people who bought Dodges but refused to even consider the Plymouth or Chrysler versions of the same car?

My observation is the different brands were offered with different options at different price points. Buicks were higher end than Oldsmobiles so they were more expensive. I bought Fords since they were cheaper than Mercury or Lincoln. Right now, the family owns four Toyotas even though one daughter would rather have a Lexus.

PSU

I owned ten cars with no brand loyalty until I bought a Toyota, four new, six second hand.

Packard Clipper ← hand me down
Chevy Station wagon
Rambler American ← new
Corvette Stingray
Ford Falcon
Fiat 125 ← new
Dodge Dart ← new
Toyota Tercell
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla ← new

The Captain

Let’s see…

started with a second hand Pontiac for summer job in 1963…was 8 or 9 years old…which was ‘old’ at the time with 55,000 miles when cars crapped out fairly early and didn’t last long

Then I got a 11 year old rebuilt engine VW Bug for last year and half of college. Paid all of $150 for it in 1967. Sister kept the Pontiac for my first years years of college.

When I got out of college I bought a 3 year old Ford Mustang. kept it 2 years traded it for 1 year old Corvette which I kept 8 years. Sold it when I moved to mountain top with 2 miles of gravel roads. Bought Ford Econoline Van new. First new car.

Also bought lowest end International Scout in 1977. 4 on the floor, 4 cylinder, AM radio only.

Moved to NOVA and no place for giant Ford Van. Wouldn’t fit in most garages and hard to park on street if you could find a spot. Sold Scout before I moved. Bought lowest end Nissan Sentra - I took the subway to work so no need to car to go far. Just around DC area. OK for local use. Barely could do 70 mph.

Then moved to TX but before I did, bought Honda Accord that would handle TX roads (70+ MPH and lots of roads. Had been to TX on half dozen business trips. Kept that car 17 years.

I inherited a Pontiac from my mom. Drove it to 200,000 miles. SOld it - not longer made so bought Buick Lesabre. Put 200K miles on it in 5 years and sold it and bought another Buick LeSabre. Put 200K miles on it. They stopped making it. Nearest equivalent was crappy Impala - too big - like aircraft carrier. Cheaply made car with plastic everything.

Bought Chevy Malibu. Nice road car. Put 200K miles on it quickly and sold after six years. Bought another Chevy Malibu - now up to 136K miles in six years. Slowing down.

When I sold the Honda, I bought a Toyota Prius. 2007. Now going on 14 years old.

I’m a ham radio county hunter. Fords are notoriously RF NOISELY and near useless for ham radio while moving. (that’s all Ford Company makes and models. Some a lot worse than others).

Hybrids are HORRIBLE for noise. You can hear one coming 300 feet away. EVs the same. You can’t even get an AM radio in Tesla as they are so noisy you can’t receive any AM stations. No way to run a ham station other than stop, turn off engine, and run off a separate battery for your ham rig.

Dunno what next car will be but like GM products as they are near NOISE FREE for ham radio. Ford products could car less. Horrible noisy fuel pumps. Garbage! and they don’t care. One 10c bypass capacitor would solve the problem but no…they don’t do it, and it’s 500 bucks to drop the tank and even then you can’t get to fuel pump mechanism.

My parents had Chevy 1950, then a couple Plymouth station wagons while kids were around. Then went to Pontiacs…mom liked the softer ride of a ‘mid size’ car.

Other than my Corvette in my 20s, never had the urge to have ‘hot cars’ or ‘muscle cars’ or fancy cars. A Honda is fine. No need for a Lexus.

My main criteria for a car at age 70+ is one that the seat is comfortable for me. Most foreign cars are horrible with lumber supports that kill my back. I’ll never buy a horrible noisy Ford product.

Maybe another Malibu? or Buick?

I’m not impressed by what folks buy. My best friend drives a 20 year old Lexus. We could afford just about anything made if we ‘wanted it’.

Car affliction is one of the ‘early retirement’ killers. Spend lots of money on new cars, trade them quickly to buy the latest, always buy ‘top end’ cars full of expensive options…always have car payments and spend, spend, spend for status.

I’ll probably buy another IC engine GM car in a year or two.

Might even trade the Prius for an EV for around town use. That seems to be ‘inEVitable’ as will be hard to buy anything but EV in 2030…then again, I might not be around by then either to worry about it. I’ll be 84 years old then.

Seen a lot of cars. Seen a lot of people going through cars left and right. Seen too many Escalades to make sense. In the DFW area, you can buy anything from low end Kias to Ferraris and Lamborghinis if you want. I see one or two Teslas around town on most trips here and there. They stick out with their ‘chalk white’ paint.

t

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As far as I could tell, every Oldsmobile ever made was a clone of something in the Buick lineup, and every Buick ever made was a cheaper Cadillac, a fancy Chevrolet, or both.

Back in the day, each GM division had its down design, engineering, and marketing departments. So there were physical differences between cars. For example, one division might have engine and transmission options that were unique to that brand. Plus marketing. Pontiac builds excitement. Hey! I like exciting cars. That must mean I’m a Pontiac man.

But as you point out, over time the differences got smaller and smaller to the point where all GM divisions were making essentially identical cars, with only minor stylistic changes. So, no reason for Oldsmobile or Pontiac anymore.

If I were to guess, I’d say Buick and GMC brands are on the way out too. They are just upbranded Chevys at this point.

We got a 1989 Acura Legend in 1992 and a 1996 Acura 3.5RL in 1998. I’m still driving the latter, 23 years later. Acura been berry, berry good to me. Why change?

–fleg

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If I were to guess, I’d say Buick and GMC brands are on the way out too. They are just upbranded Chevys at this point.

Buick is regarded as a luxury vehicle in China. I’m imagine GM would keep the Buick badge at least for that.

I loved the early 1980’s Cadillac Cimarron. A Chevy Vega with a $5,000 adder for the Cadillac hood ornament.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Cimarron

intercst

My main criteria for a car at age 70+ is one that the seat is comfortable for me. Most foreign cars are horrible with lumber supports that kill my back. I’ll never buy a horrible noisy Ford product.

I’ve had back problems most of my life. After treatment in Palo Alto I was told to get a lumbar support (a little pillow) to put behind my lower back. It helps a LOT!

https://www.google.com/search?q=lumbar+support+pillow&ne…

The Captain

Hmmmm…

Another ham operator… Who knew?

dit dit dit dit

dit dit…

Since 1956, long time no longer active tho’. Original call likely reissued by now…

73’s, and all that…

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I know now that GM’s brands were originally intended to meet the buyer’s changing wants and needs over time.

It wasn’t necessarily designed that way. The free spending William Durant cobbled together a bunch of disparate auto manufacturers to form GM. At the time there was the gigantic Ford operation and about 50 very small car assembly companies turning out from a dozen to a hundred or more cars each year. Durant made his fortune in the horse carriage business catering to both the high and low, so it’s possible he went in with this philosophy in mind.

But it was long after the fact that the “GM ladder” was articulated as any actual business theory.

names. GM was the biggest offender. It seemed that Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick had the same product lineups.

Not at first. Durant, it was said, believed in “states’ rights” (not literally) and left each company alone, each with their own design team, material sourcing, assembly, etc. Durant got over his head, was pushed out of the business (he later took over Chevy and eventually GM again, but the Depression put him upside down again and he was fired a second time) The bean counters took over, and well, the long slow march to common sourcing and common platforms and eventually common design began.

Durant ended his days managing a bowling alley in Michigan. He died in 1947, a fact I remember only because it was my birth year.

Personally I had (used) American cars until the Japanese invaded with better value, then I was Toyota and Honda for a while. When I finally got a company car it was a Buick only because Westinghouse wouldn’t let us buy foreign. Finally the “second tier” of Japanese imports targeted upscale: Acura, Infiniti, Lexus and I’ve had one of those ever since the 90’s.

Most recently I’ve tried to get a look at the Chrysler PBEV Pacifica van, and now I remember how much I hate American car dealerships. I’ve been to two, both promised to call me when they had one on the lot - even if promised to another customer - and neither has ever called. I have found the service departments of the Japanese upscale brands to be light years better than those at other dealerships.

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Most recently I’ve tried to get a look at the Chrysler PBEV Pacifica van, and now I remember how much I hate American car dealerships.

How American is Chrysler anymore?

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Hard to be loyal about something I’ll buy every 15 years or so. Had a 2004 Honda Pilot that went about 200k with no issues and would have bought another or another Honda if they made a bigger SUV. Now drive a 2018 Lincoln Navigator. Ironically has more HP, more towing capacity, and heavier curb weight but gets better MPG.

So come 2035 when I’m shopping for a new SUV, I’ll see what is rated best at the time and suits my needs.

I am fiercely loyal about tools and workout clothes.

JLC

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I’m a licensed amateur radio operator as well.