View Full Version : Avanti Makes Hagerty Top Ten "Flops" List

06-19-2010, 05:27 AM

(Tis' The Season.....(sigh):confused:

Edsel: A textbook example of a marketing flop, but the 118,000 cars (http://rumors.automobilemag.com/6658702/classic-cars/paging-edsel-hagerty-lists-modern-automotive-flops/index.html#) built between 1958 and 1960 have since become beloved by collectors. Interestingly, Ford needed to sell twice that number to break even on its $400 million investment (roughly $3 billion today).

Amphicar: Amphibious vehicles (http://rumors.automobilemag.com/6658702/classic-cars/paging-edsel-hagerty-lists-modern-automotive-flops/index.html#) helped win World War II, but post-war consumers weren't exactly waiting with bated breath for a car/boat they could park in their garage or dock at the marina. Still, a German firm thought they could sell 20,000 examples a year. They built 3878 examples over seven years, leading the car to become a collectible classic.

Fiat Jolly: Yes, the little open-air, wicker-seated people mover -- built from your choice of a 500, 600, or 600 Multipla -- is beloved by Fiat aficionados, but talk about a niche market. Its designers intended for the Jolly range to primarily serve as a small vehicle that could be stored upon a yacht. We know one example here in Michigan that was used as a groundskeeping cart at a sizable estate. Fewer than 100 Jollys are believed to exist today.

DeLorean DMC 12: Underpowered, overweight, and rather expensive -- the DMC 12 had some sizable competition when it launched in '81, but those traits didn't help it in the market. Roughly 9000 cars were built before the factory in Ireland shut its doors, but a cult following -- somewhat bolstered by the use of the car in Back To The Future -- has since emerged.

Continental Mark II: Don't call this a Lincoln. The Mark II, built between 1956 and 1957, was built by Ford's Continental Division, and was designed to be America's Bentley. It was priced as such -- at the time, its $10,000 price tag could have picked up a Rolls, Bentley, or two Cadillacs. Only 3000 of the cars -- which vaguely resemble a European-ized form of the Thunderbird -- were built, and roughly half of those exist today.

DeTomaso Pantera: Attempting to sell an Italian-built exotic in Lincoln-Mercury showrooms was one of Ford's more unusual marketing experiments -- at least it was until it tried to launch the Merkur brand in the '80s. We can't imagine Town Car buyers cross-shopped a Pantera -- and those who did likely weren't impressed with initial build quality (http://rumors.automobilemag.com/6658702/classic-cars/paging-edsel-hagerty-lists-modern-automotive-flops/index.html#).

Studebaker Avanti: looks aren't everything, and the Avanti was proof positive of that age-old adage. Corporate disorganization delayed the launch and limited production. Although other companies bought the rights to continue production, only 4643 were built by Studebaker itself.

Volkswagen Thing: Updating an old WWII-era command vehicle design quickly gave VW a utility vehicle it could sell on the cheap, but it didn't exactly resonate with buyers. No roll-up windows, no four wheel drive? Buyers looked elsewhere, and new safety regulations forced it out of the U.S. market after 1975.

Tucker: Preston Tucker's dream was revolutionary and rather attractive, but poor management and other hurdles found the company strapped for cash and well behind schedule. 51 were built, 47 survive, and original cars in good or restored condition frequently bring $1 million at auction.

Skip Lackie
06-19-2010, 07:02 AM
Well, if the only criterion for success or failure is selling enough to make a profit, then they're probably right. But their write-ups are too short to really explore the reasons for the poor sales -- reasons that often had nothing whatever to do with the car itself. For example, Stude had production problems with the early Avantis, and by the time they had those fixed, the introduction of a whole fleet of competitors (Riviera, etc) had greatly increased competition. Interesting that all the listed cars "failed" for different reasons. Some (Jolly, Edsel) simply misjudged the market. Others (Continental) may not have sold very many, but greatly improved the presitge of the company -- prestige that carried forward as improved sales in subsequent models. All in all, a very shallow analysis.

06-19-2010, 12:08 PM
Many early orders were cancelled because of the failure to deliver (in a timely manner). In '63 when I was looking for a Wagonaire I went to a factory dealer in Kansas City, MO. The salesman there told me that they had to cancel a bunch of orders including one from a distillery who ordered seven for their salesmen to drive. Interestingly, they had a Mercedes Gullwing on the floor that they had taken in trade on a new Avanti. They also took a new Corvair Monza convertible in trade on an Avanti. Kind of shows that Avanti had a lot of diverse appeal, just couldn't deliver...

06-19-2010, 12:49 PM
I guess I dare to be different.

I would regard all of those cars (except perhaps the Thing) to be disirable and collectible.

Without seeing the whole article, it appears that it is only "out there" to get attention/reaction.

06-19-2010, 03:48 PM
55s i agree with you i really wouldnt mind having any of those cars although even the Thing i have good memories of , ( hmmmmmm Chelsea Hoffmann:))

Skip Lackie
06-19-2010, 04:25 PM
I guess I dare to be different.

I would regard all of those cars (except perhaps the Thing) to be disirable and collectible.

Without seeing the whole article, it appears that it is only "out there" to get attention/reaction.
I don't disagree about their desirability. But I don't know of any car company that builds cars so that they'll be collectors items 40 years later. They make them to make money in the same year that they're sold -- or in a few limited cases, as loss leaders to bring customers into the showroom. I think the Continental Mark II qualifies as the latter. The others ultimately were either sales flops or (in the case of the Tucker) never intended to be produced in large enough quantities to make money in the first place.