regfootball

"POLARIZING" DESIGN

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Alrighty. Two-three years ago, it was about Chrysler's huge success with the 300 and the entire buzz of 'polarizing design'.

It became all about, 'if you want to have a hit in the car market, you can't just have vanilla designs. Good designs will often offend many people, but if your design is polarizing it means you can achieve a greater passion level for your products....'gotta have it' factor (copyrite, C/D).

Now, as we look back and see the disaster that is called Chrysler, its safe to say they bet the farm on polarizing design too much, and it may be their demise. Most folks won't consider an LX car, it's a 'pimpmobile' or 'gangsta car'. At best, its for a graying white man who may lack something between his lower limbs.

Love or hate, strong reactions, can drive sales of a particular model or brand when times are good. But now, when the relevance of each model matters even more in a new era where the market is forgiving of excess models and brands.....

Has polarizing design become a complete liability? Are people avoiding polarizing cars, especially with tough economic factors?

Is Chrysler's downfall largely to blame for their polarizing model stylings? Did they voluntarily check themselves out of volume market segments by alienating large chunks of the car buying population from cconsideration because of 'unsafe' design?

Has the public charicature of what a car like the 300, or Magnum, or Charger is, far overshadowed the fact that the car itself is actually a very good car?

Edited by regfootball
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Polarizing Design is a Liability. There are bold designs that are far from Polarizing (CTS, Camaro, Challenger). There are elements of the 300 that make it polarizing that the Charger doesn't have. The trick is to hit the nail on the head and they didn't do that.

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I would tend to argue that the Charger is even very polarizing for large segments of buyers, ones who buy frequently (i.e. women and import intenders used to camrys and stuff). Whereby some of Chysler's previous designs of the 300, Intrepid, Concorde, etc., Stratus and Sebring, etc......those were all very accepted by the mainstream. Cars that are too macho and butch like the 300, Avenger, Charger, etc. just don't resonate well with the folks who tend to populate the mainstream segments.

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I was referring to the 300 as polarizing in terms of its Gaping Maw and excessively high beltline but your point about the Charger stands, that's an element I didn't really consider.

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I've always loved the LX cars, so I don't quite understand where you're going with this. Since we do all of the local Chrysler dealership's bodyshop work, I've seen ppl from all walks of life driving a 300. Yes, we've gotten a few with huge rims, but most owners are "normal".
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Chrysler has been very, very lucky that they have enjoyed such a great design team over the past 15 years or so. Look at the ugly crap they built in the late '80s/early '90s, coupled with their horrific engineering. Until the LH cars came out in '93, Chrysler was heading for the dustbin of history. It has ony been BECAUSE of their great designs, polarizing or not, that they have stayed in business all these years.

Toyota has had their 'quality' mantra (deserved or not), Honda that their teflon sheen and General Motors their sheer heft, but Chrysler has always been an also-ran company. If they ever became guilty of bland design, they would be gone in a flash.

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The problem with the LX cars is that they keep coming out with new ones, but the old ones haven't changed much or just get canceled. Can anyone here tell the difference between a 2005 300c and a 2009 300c without putting pictures up side by side? This is a car that if they wanted to keep sales up, they should have designed two visual updates ready to release in quick succession in the years following initial release.

Additionally, they made a huge mistake producing the down market 300. There is no aire of exclusivity when you can pick up a 300 for $19,999 + tax/tags/delivery any day of the week.

I'm not one to advocate resurrecting dead brands, but Plymouth would have been useful here if Chrysler really wanted to sell a budget full sizer.

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It became all about, 'if you want to have a hit in the car market, you can't just have vanilla designs. Good designs will often offend many people

Most folks won't consider an LX car, it's a 'pimpmobile' or 'gangsta car'. At best, its for a graying white man who may lack something between his lower limbs.

Is Chrysler's downfall largely to blame for their polarizing model stylings?

I disagree that good design will offend many people. If you want to talk architecture, for example, not everyone thinks Frank Gehry is good design while many people think Richard Meier or IM Pei are purveyors of good design. The "safer" stuff need not be vanilla.

Case in point: the wedgier (than the year before) 76 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe with its trademark rectangular lamps and waterfall grille. In its day, there was no better looking mainstream automobile. The result: 512,000 sold in ONE year. And normal people were buying them.

The association with 300/Charger is pimp and gangsta all the way. At least half of the ones I see are being driven around by some dirtbag, with windows shaded and blingy wheels. Then throw in a couple of lime colored Chargers here and there.

Their polarization runs down the line. The PT cruiser was polarizing....an obnoxious little statement of sorts. The Sebring is not well put together at all (I've rented a couple) and the 4-cylinder is noisy and the shift quality is poor.

Then, their big trucks -- I wonder what the demographic studies show for the big Dakota or Ram with the bombastic grille -- probably "third leg challenged." When you see who drives those, you say "yep." When you see who is behind the wheel of the comparable Chevy or GMC product, you can't make such generalizations. Normal people buy those.

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The 300 had a sub-par interior, not enough power in base form and was too expensive in C form for it be a mainstream model. The Magnum was a wagon, they should have never had it be the only Dodge LX at the beginning, too niche. The Charger has the same rear headroom issue the Grand Prix has as a result of the roofline. Thats just Chrysler being Chrysler.

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I've always loved the LX cars, so I don't quite understand where you're going with this. Since we do all of the local Chrysler dealership's bodyshop work, I've seen ppl from all walks of life driving a 300. Yes, we've gotten a few with huge rims, but most owners are "normal".

Yes.... I agree. The Chrysler 300 and Charger will go down in history as

absolute smash hits in a world of mediocrity and compromise!

NEVER in a million years will I consider buying a FWD Impala, SS or not,

V8 or not, never will I ever buy a Ford 500 (even the SHO) or some FWD

modern Cadillac (been there done that) maybe for my wife, NOT for me.

But a Chrysler 300 and or the (ALSO!) polarizing Cadillac CTS will def. be

in my driveway if I live long enough to afford a nice used one.

You wanna talk polarizing designs?!?!?

In the early 1950s we had the WILD radical Buick Skyark & Chevy Corvette.

In the late 1950s we had the over-the-top '59 Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Chevy...

MANY people thought the '63 Corvette split window was too much!

They bought Falcons, Fairlanes, Country Squires & Thunderbirds...

Then in 1971 I bet many thought the Riviera was hideous.

See where I'm going with this?

No one remembers the bred ad butter (make sure to not OFFEND anyone crap)

The Chrysler 300 sid F**K YOU! to convention in the process

it won recognition graced magazine covers the world wide,

has had MORE die cast models of it cast in its OWN TIME than

any other vehicle in recent memory w/ the exception of the

Corvette and Escalade.

Trying to piss all over Chrysler's success of the 300 is a lot like

spitting in the wind.

Let me say something here right now.

Overall GM is my one, true, first and only LOVE.

BUT

Chrysler is very close to my heart. The Viper, RWD cars,

Cummins powered Rams and other interesting products

like the neon-SRT4 have redeemed them, after years of

mediocrity they are back in the saddle.

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The Charger has the same rear headroom issue the Grand Prix has as a result of the roofline. Thats just Chrysler being Chrysler.

I'm pretty sure most muscle car buyers are not going to

evaluate the car based on "rear seat head room". That's

as absurd as me talking about the lack of ground

clearance and non-locking rear axle in a Saturn Vue.

Sure many 3.5 Chargers are just bought to be family

sedans, and the back seat is for the KIDS!

You want headroom? The Toyota Corolla, with the center

of gravity of a London double decker bus, has plenty. <_<

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The Charger has the same rear headroom issue the Grand Prix has as a result of the roofline. Thats just Chrysler being Chrysler.

Well, except for its praying-mantis front grille, the Grand Prix is sleek while the Charger is bloated...IMO. Polarizing can get gauged by having created two camps: the "gotta have it" and the "can't stand it" groups. I think it's safe to say many Chrysler products today would get that reaction.

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Yes, the LXes definitely stand out.... bold designs compared to the bland FWD generica that Ford, GM and Toyota churn out..

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Wow, coming back to reality for a minute. Its a sedan, 4-doors and all, not a "muscle car" nobody is going to cross shop a Charger and a Mustang or Camaro. They're going to cross shop a Charger and an Impala or Malibu or Taurus or Camry or Accord. And the Charger comes up short against those cars when it comes to rear headroom and rear access. This may not be true for you, but many people take into consideration the issues with installing a carseat, getting kids into said carseat and room for the kids when they grow up.

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My daughter will be 5 in three months.

When she was born one of my daily drivers was a 1997 STS.

The roofline on those Cadillacs is low and sexy, but I'm not a

crybaby pansy and I got her in and out without it being the

end of the world.

P.S. What Toyota & Honda exactly did the buyer of the 1994-96 Impala SS cross-shop? :blink:

Enjoy all that headroom in the Prius. :wink:

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You mean the '96 Impala SS that was discontinued? The LX cars aren't a sales success, no matter how much enthusiast appeal they may have, because they're not what car buyers want. Live with it.

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You mean the '96 Impala SS that was discontinued? The LX cars aren't a sales success, no matter how much enthusiast appeal they may have, because they're not what car buyers want. Live with it.

Yes, the masses want their boring FWD generics.

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Yep, and thats why Toyota and Honda are in substantially better financial situations than GM and Ford, they did it better sooner. They can both afford failures (Tundra/Ridgline/Pilot) because the other stuff will prop them up. GM doesn't have the luxury of taking a risk, and they saw what happened to Chrysler after pouring assets into big RWD cars, they aren't going to take that same risk.

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Chrysler has been very, very lucky that they have enjoyed such a great design team over the past 15 years or so. Look at the ugly crap they built in the late '80s/early '90s, coupled with their horrific engineering. Until the LH cars came out in '93, Chrysler was heading for the dustbin of history. It has ony been BECAUSE of their great designs, polarizing or not, that they have stayed in business all these years.

Toyota has had their 'quality' mantra (deserved or not), Honda that their teflon sheen and General Motors their sheer heft, but Chrysler has always been an also-ran company. If they ever became guilty of bland design, they would be gone in a flash.

interesting take.

makes sense. still, i say with the down market as it is, people are buying 'safe' right now.

you think the OMNI GLH and the o24 and TC3 (not to be confused with mp3) weren't what saved Chrysler?

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I disagree that good design will offend many people. If you want to talk architecture, for example, not everyone thinks Frank Gehry is good design while many people think Richard Meier or IM Pei are purveyors of good design. The "safer" stuff need not be vanilla.

Case in point: the wedgier (than the year before) 76 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe with its trademark rectangular lamps and waterfall grille. In its day, there was no better looking mainstream automobile. The result: 512,000 sold in ONE year. And normal people were buying them.

The association with 300/Charger is pimp and gangsta all the way. At least half of the ones I see are being driven around by some dirtbag, with windows shaded and blingy wheels. Then throw in a couple of lime colored Chargers here and there.

Their polarization runs down the line. The PT cruiser was polarizing....an obnoxious little statement of sorts. The Sebring is not well put together at all (I've rented a couple) and the 4-cylinder is noisy and the shift quality is poor.

Then, their big trucks -- I wonder what the demographic studies show for the big Dakota or Ram with the bombastic grille -- probably "third leg challenged." When you see who drives those, you say "yep." When you see who is behind the wheel of the comparable Chevy or GMC product, you can't make such generalizations. Normal people buy those.

the blingness of the LX cars is why women avoid chrysler as a brand. there, i said it.

polarizing architecture is one thing.....people aren't buying a building for 5 year loan to drive and hope it has some resale left at the end of the ride.

now is when i make the point that people buy vanilla looking homes too.

The PT cruiser was a p*ssy wagon. You may say it was polarizing, but it had tons of 'cute'. when it came out next to the new beetle, it rivaled it in cuteness. common thread, it appealed to women. Again, i repeat, you need to sell cars women want, because women control your testes and your pocketbook. Like I said, you don't see women flocking to LX cars like they do to p*ssy little CRV's.

Note, look how 'soft' looking the new Ram trucks are. Nice trucks by the way, i saw one the other day. Good job Chrysler.

Nice point about the 76 cutlass, EVERYONE wanted those i recall when i grew up. i ended up with the buick clone, a centry coupe, when i got my college car. those 2 coupes, the regal/century and cutlass were very nice mainstream cars. the olds waterfall grille was classic.

Edited by regfootball
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Yes.... I agree. The Chrysler 300 and Charger will go down in history as

absolute smash hits in a world of mediocrity and compromise!

NEVER in a million years will I consider buying a FWD Impala, SS or not,

V8 or not, never will I ever buy a Ford 500 (even the SHO) or some FWD

modern Cadillac (been there done that) maybe for my wife, NOT for me.

But a Chrysler 300 and or the (ALSO!) polarizing Cadillac CTS will def. be

in my driveway if I live long enough to afford a nice used one.

You wanna talk polarizing designs?!?!?

In the early 1950s we had the WILD radical Buick Skyark & Chevy Corvette.

In the late 1950s we had the over-the-top '59 Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Chevy...

MANY people thought the '63 Corvette split window was too much!

They bought Falcons, Fairlanes, Country Squires & Thunderbirds...

Then in 1971 I bet many thought the Riviera was hideous.

See where I'm going with this?

No one remembers the bred ad butter (make sure to not OFFEND anyone crap)

The Chrysler 300 sid F**K YOU! to convention in the process

it won recognition graced magazine covers the world wide,

has had MORE die cast models of it cast in its OWN TIME than

any other vehicle in recent memory w/ the exception of the

Corvette and Escalade.

Trying to piss all over Chrysler's success of the 300 is a lot like

spitting in the wind.

Let me say something here right now.

Overall GM is my one, true, first and only LOVE.

BUT

Chrysler is very close to my heart. The Viper, RWD cars,

Cummins powered Rams and other interesting products

like the neon-SRT4 have redeemed them, after years of

mediocrity they are back in the saddle.

as much as the 300 helped chrysler a short few years ago, it will be their death now.

Edited by regfootball
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Wow, coming back to reality for a minute. Its a sedan, 4-doors and all, not a "muscle car" nobody is going to cross shop a Charger and a Mustang or Camaro. They're going to cross shop a Charger and an Impala or Malibu or Taurus or Camry or Accord. And the Charger comes up short against those cars when it comes to rear headroom and rear access. This may not be true for you, but many people take into consideration the issues with installing a carseat, getting kids into said carseat and room for the kids when they grow up.

first thing my wife gravtitated towards when i did the sell job on the astra for her recently ....'can you get a car seat in it, it's a small car'.

she examined the access with the wider cut of the door at the top and gave the blessing. she cited our old diamante as a car she would not comply with, because the door opening was too hard of access for the car seat. the charger has a similar door cut, so i can see why women would avoid that as well. keep in mind nearly all women hate rwd too.

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The LX cars didn't help Chrysler in the long term, but the atrocious Avenger and Sebring sealed the deal.

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The LX cars didn't help Chrysler in the long term, but the atrocious Avenger and Sebring sealed the deal.

This.

While I didn't mind the LXes (mainly the Charger and ALL of the SRT8 versions), they weren't meant to be the volume line or the best sellers. Yet, because of what came out below them, they ended up that way.

Not having a C-car with broader appeal really hurt Chrysler too. As many Calibers as I see on the road, I know just as many people who would never have considered buying one.

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I have had quite a few female 300 owners (as opposed to drivers). The beautiful gold '08 300C, '06 300 Touring in black metallic, '07 300 Limited in metallic red, '06 300C in jade green. In fact, come to think of it, most of my 300 customers have been normal women (with a few notable exceptions, like the 300 SRT-8 owned by a construction company chief - he takes it out onto job sites, ugh, and a sexually ambiguous Latin kid with an '06 white 300C). All of my Charger and Magnum customers have been men though. Edited by ocnblu
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