QotW: What would you tell automakers to do?

1985 Honda Accord Aerodeck dash

Last week Dave wrote about M2, the Mazda specialty shop designed to hear feedback delivered directly from the customer’s mouth. If only more companies would do that.

What would you tell automakers to do?

Japanese automakers once made the most perfectly ergonomic dashboards known to man. Some still do, but the one automaker that’s fallen farthest from its heyday tree is Honda. Look upon in wonder at this Honda dashboard from the days when Old Man Soichiro still had a hand in his company: the thin-spoked steering wheel, the trio of logical gauges, the well-bolstered and gorgeously upholstered seats. Compared to modern-day Honda’s Romulan warbird consoles it is a thing of utter beauty, so minimalist and functional, and even has a small tray formed by negative space. All this in an Accord, no less! And if you ask us, there’s a tragic dearth of blue interiors these days. So yeah, we’d tell Honda to make more of these, less of those.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s your favorite period-correct license plate for your JNC?” 

1970 Chrysler 300 Japanese plate

This week’s most entertaining story came from returning champion Bob, who told of how his fuselage 300 came to wear an upside-down Japanese plate:

Many years ago, I was looking on eBay for a Japanese plate, when I spotted an auction for a worn plate with a story. Apparently, the seller’s father was a US serviceman stationed in Japan in 1969 who had his personal car brought over with him… exactly what it was escapes me now, but I seem to remember a Ford Falcon. The plate was issued to him in Japan and came back with the car.

I ended up with it and, naturally, threw it on the front of my ’70 Chrysler 300. The hole spacing was the proper distance for a US car, the only issue being it only had holes drilled at the bottom… and my 300′s front only held plates by the top holes.

So I put it on upside down.

I drove to a friend’s pizza shop, and he noticed it through the window right away. “I don’t know if that’s offensive or not, but I love it.”

Another time, I had parked it along Woodward during the dream cruise in a sea of much-shinier and more typical classic cars, left for awhile, and when walking back past, a family of, I’m assuming, Japanese people walked past a series of Mustangs unamused, spotted the plate, and began taking pictures laughing. That made my day.

I’ve since pulled it back off the car for safe keeping, but I liked the idea that it was at least appropriate for the car had it actually been sent to Japan when it was new (as far as I understood, the 3 denoted anything with a larger than 2 liter engine, no?).

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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66 Responses to QotW: What would you tell automakers to do?

  1. CM says:

    The big one for me is beltlines and greenhouses. I hate the caved-in, bathtub feeling you get sitting in modern cars due to the higher beltlines and less glass. Older Hondas, such as my ’93 Vigor, feel terrific to sit in and have amazing visibility. They also look so much better in my opinion, with that low-slung, road hugging look.

    • Dennis says:

      A big reason for the higher belt line have to do with the pedestrian safety regulation that require a larger gap between the hood and the engine so it has room to move incase of an impact with a person. This raises the hood, which raises the roofline, which raises the belt line to keep the proportions looking right. Now the whole car is bigger so to make it look like a normal car it now needs huge wheels. I think if designers were left to their own and didn’t have to comply with these sometimes ridiculous regulations cars would look much better.

  2. Jim-Bob says:

    I want the ability to buy keijidosha in the US. Cars sold here are obscenely large and not very space efficient. I would love to buy a Japanese light car for use in the US, safety regs be damned! Barring that, can we at least get a 4 seat hatchback with a 1 liter or smaller two or three cylinder engine and manual transmission? Oh, and yes…bring back dark blue interiors!

  3. Dear TIRE Manufacturers,

    14″ performance rubber. We need it. You make many 14″ tire flavors in other areas of the world, but the US has only a couple options. Make it happen. You fill up some boats with awesome 14″ tires in multiple widths and we, the enthusiasts, will fill your bank accounts.


    (sorry, JNC. This is my current beef. Car makers will do what they do as always, but we need some RUBBER for our beloved nostalgics.)

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Actually this is a GREAT idea. 14″ tires are so hard to find these days.

      • dickie says:

        miata owner problems.

      • Ben Hsu says:

        It’s not just Miatas. Nearly every old Japanese wheel worth their salt is 14″. Sigh.

        • dickie says:

          adam and i have seen the topic rehashed ad nauseam on the miata forums, but you’re right; most of the *nice* wheels i’d run on the miata or my wagon are 14″ and the lack of tires is an unfortunate decision-maker that pushes a lot of people to 15″. miata owners are doubly-screwed in that we got a bolt pattern that precludes use of said *nice* wheels without adapter spacers.

          • gypsy says:

            We have the same problem in Australia, the last set of decent 14″ tyres I bought had to come from England. Decent 13″ tyres are just as sought after and equally difficult to find over here.

        • Big Pete says:

          I hear you, but try finding rubber for an ’84 Suzuki Swift. 12″ rims. The last tyres I got were from some company that makes tyres for light planes – Aircraft quality!

      • Randy says:

        Hey Ben,

        This is gonna be a HUGE subject!

        You might get the rest of the week off; just lettin’ us throw ideas around!

  4. Kevin says:

    Very simply, I’d ask them to focus on producing electric cars (or ultra fuel efficient cars), so that we may still have fun with our smelly internal combustion powered JNC’s, at a much cheaper price. If automakers shifted completely to electric cars, (which lets be honest, the oil industry would never let that happen) then the demand for petroleum would slowly dwindle to next to nothing, giving us lower gas prices and more smiles, ultimately. We could build our cars to suck down as much gas as they wanted, and the emissions that they put out would be so insignificant that the earth wouldn’t even mind! Sadly, gas prices will continue to rise, and our classic car hobby will continue to take more and more money from us, while the stagnant inner city traffic around the world continues to dump hideous amounts of Co2 into the atmosphere. The auto industry has the power to impact the world in an extremely positive way. The world would gain from alternatively powered cars, and enthusiasts like us would reap nothing but benefits.

  5. Dave says:

    “Romulan warbird consoles,” LOL! It’s totally true! There’s an 8th-gen USDM Accord in our family. The dash feels like a ship, the steering wheel totally looks Romulan. It’s the nicest, most well-built FWD Crown Victoria ever =P Just kidding. It’s a nice car, but it bears little to no resemblance to classic Hondas.

  6. Steve says:

    What I am always looking for: small, RWD, I4 or I6, 3-pedal manual transmission, 2-door, 4-seat, coupe or hatch. Only the FR-S/BRZ comes close to fitting this bill (why dint Toyota develop its FR-S version with a proper Toyota DOHC I4?). Instead of a convertible FR-S/BRZ, why not make a hatchback version first?

  7. Ryan Senensky says:

    Make something under $20K, as close to or below 1 ton as possible, rear wheel drive, not a sports car or crossover, MANUAL TRANSMISSION, and most importantly: simple.

    And while they make it make a bunch of special editions with actual differences, wheels, interior options and such.

    These are the things that made JNCs as beautiful as they are. If they need an example do this:
    2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
    -Independent rear suspension
    -4 cylinder option (4B11???)
    -rear disc brakes
    -make an ass load of special editions

  8. cesariojpn says:

    Stupidly simple answer: Actively advocate the dismantling and abolishment of the 25 year old rule. There is no way such a law should exist hindering the ability for consumers to not actively import cars that suit their specific needs and/or tastes, especially ones that a company either no longer produces or actively supports.

    If they still want the law, then have it modified to ban current lineup cars actively on sale for that particular generation. Example: If i want a Toyota Century for example, I can’t import the current generation, but I can import the previous gen. Or I can’t be forbidden from importing the latest Nissan President because…..Nissan doesn’t make it anymore since they stopped making it several years back and now has slotted the Fuga/Mitsubishi Dignity as the flagship!!

    • dickie says:

      that’s a complaint you’d want to direct to our own government, not the auto manufacturers in Japan.

      • pstar says:

        +1. But what is American complaining, if not blaming “teh corporations” for idiocy that actually their government comes up with?

        Why would the government want to let the peasants defy the governments own edicts about the environment and safety, and allow them to purchase products that the government already banned for the peasants’ own safety? Next thing you’ll be expecting Michelle to let the schoolkids drink soda and eat potato chips.

      • cesariojpn says:

        Example: say Toyota wanted to bring over the Crown to compete in the US Police Car Market. They can’t right now cause of the 25 year ban and they’d have to do a ton of engineering to bring it up to US Specs. If the car can pass snuff in other markets well, then why should the US be any different?

        • pstar says:

          Because the whole thing all your teachers told you about the US being an unregulated wild west with no environmental protections was was a bold faced lie.

          The US has, and has had, the strictest safety and emissions regulations in the world for some time. Boiled down, thats why Skyline GTRs, for example were available in Australia, Japan, England, France, Scandinavia… everywhere that is, except the United States. Super strict safety and emissions requirements that GTRs couldn’t pass, and wasn’t worth Nissan’s time to bother changing x many components to be compliant. (If it was a minor difference or 2, you can bet they would’ve done it).

          What your teachers told you… about the US being unregulated lawless place “behind” the rest of the devloped world in passing laws… is the exact opposite of reality.

          • cesariojpn says:

            Before I even counter…..what the hell are you saying?

          • Big Pete says:

            But then, US cars often need some re-engineering before they can be sold in other countries? Why? Because the local regulations are different – and we think ours are better!

            Why can’t we just come to a global consensus?

  9. dickie says:

    Toyota is already shaping up if you believe the rumors that they’re ditching Subaru and picking up BMW as a partner for a small sporty RWD coupe. in doing so, they’re dropping the pancake for a proper inline-4. my input for them is relatively light – put Scion out of its misery, roll the next sport coupe into the Toyota brand and keep it simple (stupid), redesign the Supra follow-on, bring over the Mark X in place of the Avalon, and please for the love of God end the “spindle grille” and uber-contrived Lexus design language You’re at the top, no need to resort to LED Nike swooshes and other gimmickry.

    Mazda, as much as i’d love to see a new rotary engine, i seriously doubt you’d be able to meet the steeply climbing economy standards and package it in something that would move enough units to justify its creation. that being said, maybe think about continuing to develop and support it as a “crate motor” option to a conventionally-powered sports car for those of us less concerned with fuel efficiency and NVH. how nice would it be to have a “body in white” RX and Miata option to be sold through dealers with a plug-n-play Renesis or Skyactiv motorsets ready to run?

    Nissan, very little can be done to save you as a brand. the Z is a bloated caricature, the GTR is an arcade style simulation of a sports car, the idx looks like you decapitated Michael Bay’s Bumblebee, force-fed it to Megatron and put 4 wheels on the resulting excrement. Carlos Ghosn could be considered successful from a financial perspective, but hasn’t produced anything exciting since he’s been at the helm. axe the Maxima, between the Infiniti line and the ever-growing Altima it has become completely redundant. speaking of the Altima, ditch the sporty pretense. it’s not and will never be anything other than an unfortunately-styled grocery getter; only deluded mouthbreathers buy the coupe. it’s time to start from a blank slate. take some of Ghosn’s ridiculous paycheck and put it back into R&D. fire everyone currently on that payroll and bring in new blood. cut ties to Renault before you even think about bringing a car to this market. sweep the Datsun misstep under the rug while you still can.

    Mitsubishi. oh, Mitsubishi. focus on the one thing you do well – building the Lancer Evolution. kill all of your current platforms. start with a new Lancer that shares proportions with the pre-X cars. 2.0 liter turbo inline 4 with an advanced turbocharging system with whatever dual clutch thingamajig you currently offer AND a real manual transmission option. complete overkill AWD system that could handle itself whether i’m blasting up Pike’s Peak or running to the taco stand a couple blocks away. i want a rally car in a tidy little package. if you need something more Galant-sized, stretch the platform a couple inches and add some distinctive styling cues and an upmarket interior. for bonus points, offer a VR-4 trim that includes the Evo engine and drivetrain. then lift it, add a couple inches of vertical space, factory standard mudflaps and call it the Pajero. Get away from FCA as soon as possible.

    Subaru, just keep doing what you’re doing. your fanbase is so hardcore and everything about your products is so polarizing that you’d have a hard time losing or gaining any significant portion of the market share. you could literally buy up all of the Dacia Dusters, paint them blue and slap STI badging on them and it would only be a matter of time before the wannabe Blocks and Pastranas start posting “snow drift” (parking lot donut) videos on YouTube.

    Honda: S2000. this is non-negotiable.

    • Steve says:

      wow. You’ve expressed just about everything I’ve thought about these guys at one time or another! What you said for Nissan goes double, if not triple, for me.

    • Gene says:

      LMAO with “Honda: S2000. this is non-negotiable.”


    • Randy says:

      So for the Toyota RWD coupe, Celica? Hopefully, only the structure will be shared. Remember what Daimler almost did to Chrysler…

      I think Nissan went bad with the last generation Altima/Maxima. They were just too similar. There was an ad on productionscars dot com for the Datsun 810, and for the Nissan Maxima, that tout that it has the same engine as in the Z. Now, that engine is apparently only available in the Infiniti Q50, so that creates a problem for Nissan.

      I don’t suppose you’d go for an IDx wagon?

    • Randy says:

      Oh – maybe we covered this before, but how is the new Datsun a misstep? Looking at their history, they started out with the economical, little transportation devices, and took a long time to get to the performance models.

      I’d do any of the now-3 vehicles as economical transportation. Not fancy by anyone’s imagination, but they’ll get you where you need to go, and I figure if they’ll hold up to less developed countries’ roads, they’d do well here.

    • That was fantastic. Especially the Honda bit.

  10. Gene says:

    Dear Car Giants,

    Establish a separate house/subsidiary that manufactures replacement parts for your older model cars. So that we don’t have to scour the interwebs and junkyards hoping to find that one elusive part. How cool would it be if I can just drop by my local Toyota dealer and order a right side headlight bracket for my 81 Corona.


    Note: I was gonna say have them build brand new models of their older classic cars (exact replicas), but that would ruin the feeling of uniqueness of having an older car if anyone can just go to a dealer and roll out with a brand new spanking 240z or 2000gt.

    • dickie says:

      it would be so nice to have dealer support for older Japanese cars. but even better: companies like dynacorn should step forward and start stamping replacement sheetmetal or even whole bodies the way they do with classic muscle. start with something like the classic Z car and the first generation celica that have a guaranteed consumer base and expand from there. suddenly that basket case JNC that’s been sitting in a field for the past 2 decades isn’t so far beyond saving.

  11. Nakazoto says:

    I would say two things.

    First, I would echo what dickie said: “Keep it simple stupid”. Cars have become rolling living rooms, ensuring that the driver is as distracted as humanly possible from the fact that they’re piloting a 4,000 pound death missile. Instead of focusing on the driving experience, manufacturers have instead been removing even more responsibility by adding gadgets like LKA and driver monitoring stuff. By adding these things, driver’s no longer feel responsible for their actions. “It wasn’t my fault I plowed through the lunch room of a middle school. The LKA failed to keep me in my lane, the GPS told me to turn right, the VGRS responded to quickly, the BA didn’t stop the car fast enough, the Pre-Collision system didn’t stop the car for me, the Millimeter Wave Radar didn’t detect the side of the school and initiate pre-braking soon enough…” Bring back supreme simplicity. The simpler the car is with fewer driver aids, the more engaging the driving becomes, which means the driver is forced to pay attention to the road. It’s also what separates the fun cars from the washing machines.

    Second, just go ahead and adopt the space age technologies that amplify my first point. You’ll lose money now, but if you’d look a little further into the future than your next quarterly profit, you’d realize that these technologies are the future. Carbon fiber can bring lighter cars with slimmer pillars, enhancing the driving experience as well as fuel economy. Not only that, it’s safer than steel. You’ll lose money at first, but like aluminum (which is now widely used on cars like the Prius), it’s worth investing in. Variable Valve Lift and Timing for every engine in the lineup. A racing camshaft at WOT and an Eco friendly camshaft around town? Better fuel economy and more horsepower out of a smaller engine? Why isn’t this everywhere by now? You only need two transmission in your entire lineup. A proper manual and a Toroidal CVT with lock up clutch in the torque converter. CVTs are infinitely more fuel efficient than regular ATs, and they can simulate any number of “manual” gear ratios you want with a little programming. Want supreme smoothness and excellent fuel economy around town? Leave it in Auto. Want an 8 speed with paddle shifters and good response? Flip it to M-Mode (which will engage the lock up clutch when above 10 km/h and let you flip between simulated gear ratios).

    I could go on for days about this, haha. I’ll leave here for now though.


  12. Kane says:

    Easy, I would ask them to make factory manual (stick shift) an option with any car. Weather it be a lixury VIP crown or cedric, or even the most basic of cars. Nothing compares to driving a manual, you are truily one with the car when driving manual. Oh, I would also ask for more cars to come with wood grain interiours, or at least the higher end moddels to come with it. You just dont seem to see it much more. But factory manual option with any car is the first thing I would ask for.

  13. pstar says:

    Make 3 door hatchbacks. There are seriously not very many, if any (supposedly a 3 door Yaris is available… but I haven’t seen it on the roads or at the dealer. I hate that everything is a 5 door hatchback.

    Universal snap electrical connectors. Even if the whole industry isn’t standardized, it would be nice if manufacturers were. I have no idea why there are so many model-specific hardware still. If anything could restore enthusiasm for new cars, this would be it. Mazda, or maybe Hyundai, I’m looking at you.

    Enough with leather and pleather. Has everybody forgotten how to make textured cloth? Enough with the fake, “chrome”-plated plastic that every car has for a trunk garnish, or around their grilles too.

    Brand specific? (ala dickie)

    Honda: pour through the lost tomes of your elders and rediscover the secrets of wishbones.

    Mazda: some guys are saying the rotary can’t be done, not in this day and age. You guys can’t do it. Nobody can. That’s what they say. Oh well….

    Toyota: Kill “Scion”. Learn how to make interesting, powerful, robust engines again. Put them in improved-over-base versions of the cars you sell. Cease and desist with the totally phony “Corolla “S”” BS. If ‘S’ badges were all it took, GM wouldn’t be a laughing stock for the last 30 years.

    Nissan: Let’s see if you can finally beat Chrysler/Dodge for the “least inspired lineup” award.

    Oh and finally, maybe start making cool cars for places that can have them. The US and Europe have all kind of retarded laws that require cars to have high beltlines, plastic lights, big blunt fronts, huge B pillars, and bloated weights. Thats the US and Europe though, Fk em. For Southeast Asia, the former Soviets, Southeast Europe, Latin America… make light cars with pillarless hardtops, glass headlights, sub 2200 lb weights, thin bumpers, etc. Remind the rest of the fools what they have legislated themselves out of.

  14. Tanner Stinson says:

    Easy for me.

    Go crazy. What happened to crazy concepts and production cars? Who thought a spinning 3 cycle dorito would be a good idea in a car series? Who thought that having flip up headlights would create a fanbase?

    Honestly though, car companies, especially American, have gotten SO BORING. Sure, they’ll keep coming up with new versions of their sports car and add a detail each time. People will love it for a year then forget about it.

    Make a jet/turbine powered Toyota Camry. Make an electric Mustang. Break Tradition and stand out, car companies.

    • Randy says:

      Turbine would be awesome!

      From what I’ve read, they’ll run on anything that can flow through a pipe, and burn: gas, diesel, biodiesel; kerosene; alcohol; (Napoleon) brandy; peanut oil.

      My understanding is that the gov’t took the technology from Chrysler with the ’79 loan guarantee program.

      Make a SMALL turbine engine to run the generator, which in turn powers the electric car. Sort of like the Volt, which I like in concept.

      With more development, it could have gotten us off foreign oil.

      • Tanner Stinson says:

        Exactly. We just need more crazy ideas to try and get us places, whether it’s improving MPG, emissions, power, torque, whatever!

        • Randy says:

          You realize, we just conceptually looped ourselves up to the conversation between Cesariojpn, Dickie and Pstar, right?

          Feds ain’t gonna return any technology that would work that they don’t like. Turbine mileage is relatively low, but with all the options for low-cost (and renewable for the greenies) fuel, who cares?

          Gubmint, gubmint, gubmint.

          • Tanner Stinson says:

            Somewhat, I guess? But I’m saying more along the lines of that car companies need to return to their 5 year old state of minds, and need to build cars from dreams, not from cash. My point isn’t just focused around the Chrysler Turbine projects of the 60’s/70’s, or the rotary. I’m just saying that they have lost their childhood; something that happens when you let money control you.

            And look at what Toyota is now starting work on, with their crankshaft-less piston system. Sure, it’s not a complicated system, and I have at times pondered the idea, but it’s something new, something refreshing.

            Everyone says that with technology, every ten years or so the cost of development and the complexity gets cut in half, but in the automotive field that does not feel the case. It seems like for us it keeps getting longer and longer until our next advancement. (Don’t ask me where I got that fact. I can’t remember at all)

            Now, a good example of this would be the Nissan Juke-r. I mean, really, that’s the least expected car, the it’s not even that great looking, but someone said “LET’s PUT 545 HORSEPOWER INTO IT AND MAKE THINGS GO VROOM”

            And just some more history to the turbine car, apparently the reason why they stopped the research and improvement was due to

          • Randy says:

            I agree completely!

            I like the turbine because of its flex-fuel capability; I like rotaries for the fewer parts to break, smoothness, etc. Never owned one, but from what I’ve read and seen, I’d really like to.

            ** Thanks for mentioning that free linear engine thing; just read one article about it, but will definitely read more tonight! **

            Somebody in France came up with a piston engine that runs on compressed air only.

            I’m very interested in the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Now, if the manufacturers are thinking, they’d get hydrogen refill stations at every dealer (hint, hint!).

            Too bad most of the above are no-stick shift…

            I honestly think part of the complexity-adding is solely to keep us going to the dealer to pay $100/hr for stupid stuff, only because we can’t reach the part that needs work. Ford included a DIY manual with the Maverick, and I think the Pinto, as well, for jobs “you can do yourself, to save money.” How’s THAT for a selling point? “We’re showing you how to do these services, so your new car is even more economical to own!” May be meaningless on a Lexus, but if your budget dictates a Yaris, it matters.

            As far as advancements, what we have now has been around so long, it’s the most economical way to do it. If Oldsmobile hadn’t had that fire that destroyed their electric car factory, maybe that’d be the standard for U.S. cars. Toyota had that electric car (the Tam, I think?), but I think that was before WWII, and I guess the least costly tech they had for the rebuild was the regular ICE. My biggest anti-electric issue is the combination of range and refill. A 50′ extension cord running across the street just ain’t gonna do it.

            Yeah, the Juke-R seems so totally riduculous that it’s just about right. Too bad they don’t promote them; have seen exactly ZERO around here. I’d own that.

            I’m not lookling for flying cars anymore; people have enough problems ON the ground.

            “And just some more history to the turbine car, apparently the reason why they stopped the research and improvement was due to”

            Due to what? You’re killin’ me here, man! 🙂

          • Tanner Stinson says:

            Oops haha, I guess i’m tired.”… Due to the company in a financial crisis at the time, and they had to revert to just basic designs and focusing on a steady flow of customers”

            Now isn’t that how all fairy tales end? With living on the verge of bankruptcy?

          • Randy says:

            That was long…

            From a styling standpoint, I think we might be getting to that 5-year-old’s state of mind.

            I like what I’m seeing from the Japanese studios – the “next Maxima,” the Lianna, Toyota’s FCEV concept; Honda’s FCV (the white one).

            That doesn’t mean I want ALL vehicles to look like that; I like the Mitsu Mirage, too. It’s a friendly, unassuming-looking vehicle, just going about its business. Actually, I like most of Mitsu’s styling.

            Here’s some stuff I’d like to see continued, or make a comeback:

            – Two-row “sunroofs.” Earlier-model Nissan Quest; VW Up! Van. How about something like that on cars?
            – “Glass” (acrylic) roof sections. Ford had them in ’55-’56, but they let in a LOT of solar heat, BUT let’s add that heat-rejecting treatment. BTW, whether they knew it, or it was just dumb luck, green glass is supposed to be among the best choices for cutting glare without distorting colors.
            – The “extra” window above the rear window on the Murano Cross-Cabriolet. Whether you like the vehicle itself, or not (I do), that extra window is a cool styling feature. I think so, anyway… Ooohh – how about a flip-open or retractable “transom” window or panel above the “main” rear window for a real breeze when driving.
            – Hidden lights. Somebody said that pop-ups wouldn’t fly because of the pedestrian-impact regs. Sucks, but, what about putting them inside the grille opening, and having them covered by the “grille,” or otherwise recessed? For taillights, blend them into a smooth design, and cover them with some kind of grillwork, or tuck them into a blacked out negative space, or something.
            – I like chrome. Always did; always will. Chrome bumpers may be a lost technology, BUT the trim on grilles, lights, wheel wells, rocker panels, etc. There’s room for chrome-chrome, brushed-chrome, stainless, anodized aluminum, or ???.

            Maybe ’cause I grew up (loose definition there!) getting all gaga over the Dome-0, Nissan’s 270X, Pontiac’s Banshee and Stinger, and so many others, that things like the Pivo just leave me “eh.”

            Hey – let’s take the “new Maxima,” and blow it up to “Daaaaaammmmmmmmnnnnnn!!!”-size. 120-126″ wheelbase. Keep the proportions as they are.

            Conversely, take the “average” small pickup, and make one in the size they were in 1960. I’d always want three sizes of trucks: Small, medium and large, rather than our present big-medium, large, and “can’t see anything within 20-feet.”

          • Randy says:

            Tanner Stinson said:
            Oops haha, I guess i’m tired.”… Due to the company in a financial crisis at the time, and they had to revert to just basic designs and focusing on a steady flow of customers”

            Now isn’t that how all fairy tales end? With living on the verge of bankruptcy?

            Oh, yeah – it always seems to go that way. From what I understand, surrendering the research was a part of the loan guarantees.

          • Tanner Stinson says:

            Well yeah, I mean I’m only 17, I learn new things every day. But things like the Banshee, you mentioned it, are what I like to see. But not just conceptual, I’d love to see a lot of limited production runs, even if they are worthless, like two defined coupe/sport back versions of the Mustang.

          • Randy says:

            Well, I’m impressed! That you’re interested in learning new things every day gives some hope – most people seem to not be.

            Hopefully, there are enough of you in your age group to bring forth some cool stuff in the future, and not just carstuff, but bigger engineering, and style, and things that make overall life better, but hey, no pressure!

            …and I fully agree about the body styles and variations on a vehicle. Once the structure and engineering is there, the body is relatively cheap.

            Here’s a page I tripped over last night, of “Forgotten Concept Cars:”


            At the bottom are links to decades and specific years. Takes a little time to load, but there are TONS of pix.

  15. Walter says:

    I would simply tell them to start producing proper wagons again. It seriously is very difficult to find a spacious wagon in the compact class (it is compact, duh!) and all that is left are those mini SUVs or hatchbacks with not enough space in the trunk.

    Subaru axed the plus (it is a hatchback now), Mitsubishi axed the Lancer wagon (it is a hatchback now), Mazda doesn’t have a 3 wagon (it is a hatchback) and the only wagons available are the Toyota Auris wagon (Japan/Europe), Toyota Prius Plus (wtf?), the Honda Civic wagon (Europe) or a Ford Focus wagon. Now which should I buy?

    • Ryan senensky says:

      2 words. Honda Fit

      • pstar says:

        Not a wagon.

        But I don’t think wagons will ever come back (wagon defined as sedan-derived with a tailgate). Morons everywhere LOVE sitting high n mighty in suv style vehicles… which is why the whole compact suv market thrives and will continue to. Its an armsrace among idiots. They all want the commanding “view”, although if they would all drive normal sedans and wagons it wouldn’t be necessary for everyone to be boosted way up above the road…

        • Yoda says:

          It’s not so much morons sitting high anymore as a graying population that can’t duck down into a low car like they used to.

      • Randy says:

        Honda Fit SHUTTLE. Not a wagon, but I like it more than the Fit.

  16. Randy says:

    Since the article started off with the dashboard design, I don’t mind the Romulan thing at all, but, narrow that upper section a bit and put the shelf back on top. Still miss that from my old 626. Ideal place for the shades, or whatever. There’d still be plenty of room for the airbag between the vents there. (BTW, the dumbest thing on the 626, and about the dumbest on any car was putting the power window switches on the console, forward of the shifter…)

    Vent windows on the trucks (wouldn’t mind them on the cars, either!), at least as an option. Here’s an insane thought: Four-door cars with the windows behind the main ones could be vent windows, as well. (If it’s not the windshield, I’m all for it being openable!)

    TWO-DOOR HARDTOP MODELS WITH FULLY ROLL DOWN QUARTER WINDOWS! Toyota made them FORTY-PLUS YEARS AGO, Take a look at the ’70s Celicas, etc. Did we lose the technology? It’s quarter windows; it’s not figuring out the pyramids! Four-door hardtops, too!

    STICK SHIFTS. Seriously, Honda’s the only one who’s making family-sized cars with sticks? Nissan used to be “Driven,” but you can’t get a stick in an Altima, and I think most Sentras. I’m assuming the Altima coupe is gone now… Imagine that with 4-or-6 cyl. engine, and a X-speed stick. Subaru has apparently dropped the stick from the Legacy here… Haven’t checked the Euro versions.

    And who’s the genius that decided that manual tranny cars can NOT have the moonroof?

    Actual lower models. Lower costs to get in. Manual windows and locks; A/C would still be standard. I’m willing to go to the vinyl interiors, too. Yeah, I know; “eeewwww, vinyl,” – but y’know what? Leather gets ungodly hot and rock-hard cold, too. Had leather in 2 cars and vinyl in 3. Underwhelmed, for the hides cost new; would’a been better as my pants. See the base-model Versa and Mirage? Base models on everything that’s not the luxury line. Steel wheels with wheel covers, and NOT performance tires on EVERY DAMN THING. Back to the Mirage – 65-series touring tires on a 3-cylinder new-age Metro. WHY? Zero-to-60 in “yes.” Performance tires? Really? Fifteens and 16s on a Yaris? (Though for some unfathomable reason, the base Versa – with the stick – does not have a tach, apparently in an effort to dissuade anyone from buying them as their first new car/ first post-divorce new car/ introduction to the manufacturer’s products… STUPID thing to go CHEAP on. Go figure…)

    How about a sportY 2-door car that has space for back seat passengers? Not a racecar; think classic Monte Carlo. This is something I’ve seen in ALL manufacturers, in all cars. By the time you get your passengers to where you’re going, at least one of them looks like frickin’ Igor. “Need a hand getting out?” “Yesssssssss, Massssterrrrrrrrrrr!” Should not need a van or SUV to sit like a human.

    I think it was a Rambler President who said that “cars are made to sit in, not piss over.” I’ll look that up, ’cause the quote is going to bother me until I find it.

    • Tanner Stinson says:

      I completely agree with vent windows. Plus it would help with the vacuum feedback from the window I get when driving on the freeway.

      As far as roll down rear windows, I’m pretty sure those are due to safety regulations.

      • Randy says:

        Y’know, that’s probably what the mfrs would say, but until I see these regs, I ain’t buyin’ it. Four-doors have roll-down rear-door windows, so I see no functional difference between a window being in a door, or a “wall.”

        Brand new convertibles (Camaro, 3 Series, etc.) have roll-down quarter windows. No B-pillar, and no roll bar.

        What I’m thinking is that it’s a cost-cutting move; cheaper to just glue a window in, and no mechanical bits inside.

        “They” aren’t even doing flip-outs, like a ’77 Datsun 210, or a present-day minivan. In a new Versa 2-door, even that would be acceptable. (Imagine a Versa 2-dr in “Honey Bee” guise; bright yellow w/ black trim. Sporty economy car.)

        • Tanner Stinson says:

          Nevermind, the Mercedes E550 has them. Just did a bit of research. Yes, part of it is probably money.

        • Randy says:

          Ahhh – I have minimal interest in German cars, but WAS going to get there to check it, eventually. 🙂

  17. max says:

    i would ask one automaker to make a simple but really crazy thing. something that might go against the company’s ideology and perhaps some may consider my idea a bit ‘MERICA!
    so here i goes.
    My wish would be to see Honda build some crazy 5L v8. 5L maybe not enough but i’d like to see a v8 between 5L and 6.4L in displacement. then take that Vtech V8 unicorn and shove it inside a big ass american truck that has been entirely designed and built in north ‘merican soil(kind like toyota with tundra). And while we’re at it, lets convert the honda accord or make an acura into a RWD V8 muscle 4door sedan. Should we make coupe variant? sure give a typeR badge and some supercharger just to get some HP junkies hooked! Lets make the next honda pilot the size of a suburban or denali and shove that V8. And to promote the whole honda V8 ‘merican experience lets make them race in NASCAR!
    i know its kinda crazy but wouldn’t it be awesome to see honda scrap their go green plans and hybrid crap and go insane with v8 power and american muscle stuff?

  18. Randy says:

    Like a Honda Humvee! Honda: DO IT!

    I was wondering why nobody makes like,a 2-Litre V-8. Pistons would be like thread spool size.


    1) Build CARS again. We don’t Need any more crossover-all-in-one-compact-van-coupe things. Build cars like you used to: Sedans, Wagons, vans, Offroaders, coupe’s and hot hatches. stop trying to build a car that includes all of These types in one!

    2) YOU, dear carmaker should stop producing cars with hilarious small differences for different markets. As well as those different sub-divisions and all that stuff. it costs a lot of Money which should be spent to R&D and less to Marketing.

  20. Yoda says:

    Honda: Embrace your youthful/sporty image in America. Bring in the stylish rest-of-world hatch and wagon Civics, the Fit Shuttle and give – OK, sell – us a Fit Si.

    Toyota: Replace the Matrix and Scion xB with Corolla Fielder and Auris respectively. Next-gen Tundra should be the global Hilux with few changes (including longbed option).

    Nissan: Move your entire small-car program to the Note bodyshell in different levels of trim. Pay attention to how the next generation drives. Be ruthless about cutting models in segments you can’t be competitive in. Fire whoever came up with Infiniti’s model rebrand and just start using their JDM model names so we can keep track.

    Mitsubishi: Put the Lancer Evo engine/drivetrain in the Mirage bodyshell. Less weight=more power, I know you guys are on a shoestring, this’d be a cheap way to remind people you still exist.

    Subaru: Stop trying to make Subaru sedans happen. Bring back the Legacy Touring Wagon to replace the sedan and design the next Impreza/WRX as a hatch only.

    Suzuki: Please come back! Bring the Swift. We’ll even buy a few of the stubby sedans from India if they’re priced below the hatch enough.

    Gonna keep going, I’m on a roll…
    Ford: Smaller consoles, plainer dashes, more space. Minimum interior dimensions should be set by guys whose parents drove LTDs, not Capris. Pare Lincoln down to a single halo model – it worked in the ’60s – but this should NOT be retro in any way!

    GM: Sweat. The. Details. Bring in a hatchback Cruze, dump the hidden door handles from the Spark and Sonic hatch. Cut unnecessary full-size truck variations – the Tahoe/Suburban don’t need different front sheetmetal than the pickups. And build every car like you’re kid’s going to be driving it – 15 years and 200,000 miles from now, across the Mojave Desert.

    Fiat/Chrysler: Respect Dodge. Bring in a mainstream B-segment car. Don’t mess up minivans.

    VW: Build German cars, if we want Camrys we’ll buy them from Toyota. Nothing’s more unloved than a vanilla sedan with premium running costs as it ages.

    Hyundai/Kia: Don’t screw up.

  21. ACSK says:

    Let me answer by telling you what I would want to do if I suddenly found myself heading up a new brand for an automaker. Granted I don’t have the experience, so this might sound ridiculous to someone who knows better.

    I would start with a single car, and gradually add several new models as the years progress. They would all be small, lightweight cars, and have a number of things in common:

    1.)Simplicity in design. I want cars that are simple to work on. I want to encourage people to engage with their car, and to learn about their car. Part of this would mean that the car would be engineered so many parts can be accessed easily. Oil filter right out in the open, lots of space to change pumps and belts, etc. For people who don’t care about working on their car, at least it would help bring down the amount of time a mechanic would have to spend working on it. I also want to design an engine that would largely be shared between all models. One version that delivers balanced power, and another that is designed to deliver more torque.

    2.)Simplicity of functions. I would want to have a few trim levels with optional extras. For a car that might be performance oriented, for example, a customer could choose a barebones model, a basic model, or a luxury version. Barebones would be just that – no carpet, no radio, heater, no ac, no traction control, etc. A basic model would have the carpet, heater, ac, etc. A luxury version would have better interior, plenty of sound insulation, etc. but would obviously weigh more. There would be, of course, plenty of optional extras. Radio, Automatic Windows, ABS, traction control, turbo-charger, sport suspension, etc. People can basically order an all-out track car, a sporty car, or a more subdued, but comfortable ride.

    3.)Any car can be painted any color regardless of ‘trim level’. This is a major peeve. Too many cars only have 2-3 colors at the base trim level. Oh, you want that blue or brown, or white? You must order a trim level that is several thousand dollars more in order to unlock it.

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