With great cars can sometimes being products of an inspired idea, a singular vision, or a focused effort from a few dedicated people, it’s far too often that we see mismanagement or a loss of focus dim an otherwise bright star. For those vehicles (or sometimes whole brands) we can’t help but imagine what they would be like under more synergistic management conditions.
With that in mind, we’ve taken five automotive properties—all of which have shown frustrated promise on some level—that we believe could shine given the opportunity, and a new parental figure. We’ve ignored the burden of real feasibility here, going more for what makes sense on paper than what makes sense in real life. It’s more fun to dream big anyway.
Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger by Brabus
Though a fair hit both critically and with the public, when they debuted in 2004 and 2005, the Charger/300 twins have suffered from a lack of attention and funding from parent Chrysler. With potential enough to have led American sedans back to their former place of glory, the powerful and handsomely styled pair would ultimately fall flat thanks to poor interior quality and rubbery chassis/steering tuning.
Brabus has made a mint by creating hooligans using Mercedes-Benz raw material, so a product of the Daimler Chrysler days should be chicken soup for the tuning house. By tightening up suspension components and fitting a properly premium interior, the Charger and 300 could take on the entry luxury segment from a powerful, niche prospective. Certainly a better fate than awaits the car under Chrysler’s falling star.
Smart Fortwo by Honda
The diminutive Smart is certainly not without its vocal proponents as currently constituted, but we (and a slew of other reviewers) have voiced plenty of reservations regarding the Fortwo. A horrible transmission does a lot to destroy the fun of piloting the cheeky city car and fuel economy (though very good) has never been in line with expectations for such a small vehicle.
Honda, with some of the best-shifting manual transmissions in the business, might very well have a solid solution for the Smart’s gear-swapping duties. The Japanese automaker’s engine range also seems like a natural fit for the Smart’s frugal pretensions—Honda has always been an MPG leader in the U.S. and also has a venerable range of motorcycle powerplants to draw from.
Stay with us here. Lamborghini, for better or worse has, at various points during the past two decades, tossed around the idea of reviving its utterly bananas LM002. Meanwhile, General Motors is just desperate to be rid of the money-sucking, image-damning, ultimate off-road brand. The Lambo Hummer certainly wouldn’t be a populist proposition but as a completely balls-out super SUV aimed at the ultra-rich, it might have some legs. The bored progeny of oil barons need something to drive across the desert at heinous speeds right?
Dodge has made it public that the Viper brand is on the block, though a true suitor has yet to be sourced for America’s supercar. India’s Tata may seem like a bizarre choice on the surface—being best-known for creating the world’s cheapest car, the $2500 Nano—but a deeper look could find the company worthy. Tata is seemingly already making fine progress with its new stewarding of Jaguar, claiming that it would like to restore the tradition of the sporting cats. What’s more, Tata chairman Ratan Tata has got a serious jones for performance machines, saying at one point that he’d like to buy a stake in Ferrari. We think that Tata would have the drive and the resources to make sure that Viper not only survives, but thrives in the new world order.
So, Apple doesn’t build cars. We know. But that deficit in manufacturing experience hasn’t stopped persistent rumors of the stylish tech company going 50/50 on a project with various automakers, nor a burgeoning modern folk tale that Steve Jobs would be the perfect government appointee to one of the bailed out Big Three CEO spots. Why wouldn’t Apple want to take over the current crown jewel of automotive tech?
Jobs and Co. would immediately become the motoring world’s best secret keepers, styling mavens, and quality leaders. The iCar (or whatever) would also luxuriate under perhaps the most loyal consumer group on the planet, and one that is already known to be well-fixed financially. A good thing, since Apple’s influence would likely make the already pricy Tesla even dearer. Small price to pay for such coolness.
Take a moment to look through our list in the gallery above and then tell us where we went right or wrong, in comments.