There are so many car brands out there that once stood tall and proud, but have now dissolved into irrelevance, with nobody really give the slightest crap anymore. What current car brand disappoints you the most? I’ll tell you the one that makes me sick: it’s Chrysler.
Anytime Lincoln or Buick come out with a car that could possibly share the same sentence as “interesting,” we talk about how that vehicle could finally be the “rejuvination” or “rebuilding” of that brand. But it never is, and Lincoln and Buick remain boring, rebadged versions of Fords and Chevrolets (respectively) that only old folks tend to want to buy. Those car marques need work, no doubt, but the one that saddens me the most is Chrysler.
Back in my Chrysler days, when I told people where I worked, they often thought I was an engineer working on lackluster cars like the Sebring, Town and Country, Pacifica and PT Cruiser. I would always quickly mention “No, I work on the Wrangler. See, Chrysler owns Jeep.”
My point, here, is that when your company shares the same name as a brand, to many people, that brand becomes a representation of the company as a whole. When people hear Volkswagen Group, they probably think Golfs and Jettas, when people hear BMW AG, they probably think 3 series and maybe X5. What I’m getting at is that of all the brands in your portfolio, you should probably make sure the one in your name doesn’t suck.
Sadly, in the case of Chrysler, the brand that bears the name of the founder, Walter P. Chrysler—and the brand whose name makes up the middle part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles–actually does suck. Like, thoroughly.
The problem is that Chrysler calls itself a luxury brand, but the products make it clear that they’ve just never had the balls to actually go about being a luxury brand. The Chrysler 200 is the perfect example; the car starts at about $22,000, comes standard with cloth seats, a ridiculously tiny infotainment screen, and steel wheels with hubcaps.
I’ll repeat that last part: a car from a supposed “luxury brand” comes standard with steel wheels with hubcaps. And I’m not talking 1960s-style aluminum hubcaps, with their flashy chrome and colored badges—no, these are shitty plastic covers over wheels that will rust in two Michigan winters.
Back when I was at Chrysler, my coworkers and I always asked ourselves “Yo, so what’s the deal with the Chrysler brand?” Eventually, we’d all conclude that it was a shitshow—a stain on the company’s reputation, and that we should probably stop talking about it, and move on to discussion about Rams with 800 pound-feet of torque and Dana 44-equipped Jeeps.
Of course, Chrysler wasn’t always a disaster; back in the ’50s, Chrysler was hot shit, right up there with Cadillac and Packard. I mean, just look at the emblem on the front of this imperial. This is a fine automobile:
Somehow, Chrysler has gone downhill fast (though the new Pacifica is a step in the right direction), and to me, is the most disappointing car brand out there.
Enough about me; which car brand makes you a little sick to your stomach these days?