RAC Cars News


Automotive White Elephants

By raccars Published

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Car development is a very expensive business, and manufacturers don't tend to give a new model the go ahead unless they are very sure it will succeed. Sometimes, however, even the finest automotive brains in the business get it wrong.

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

The Silver Shadow was magnificent in typical Rolls-Royce style, but the problems came down to the not uncommon miscalculation of supply versus demand. Rollers are expensive and desirable but flood the market with too many of them and both prices and brand image take a beating. The Silver Shadow became the poor man's Rolls-Royce, with a rather seedy image - very far from what the modern Rolls-Royce is aiming for.

Aston Martin Lagonda

Released with great ambition, the futuristic looking and expensive super saloon still causes Aston execs to hang their heads four decades on. A true example of style over substance or form over function, everything on the Lagonda kept breaking. It also had a thirst of Oliver Reed proportions. It cost the company a fortune yet in a very brave - or foolish - move, Aston is bringing the Lagonda name back in the form of a modern super saloon. Let's hope this time they focus on reliability rather than good looks.

Alfa Romeo Arna

A combination of Italian design flair and Japanese technical proficiency sounds just about perfect. Yet for some reason, the manufacturers got it back to front and made a car that looked like a Nissan and broke down like an Alfa. What a missed opportunity!

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Surely the A-Class is still going strong? Well yes, it is, but in a very different format from the original release. The first generation A-Class saw Mercedes-Benz embarking upon its first front wheel drive adventure. It sells reasonably well on the used market but wasn't particularly good and cost the company a fortune - about €1.7 billion. Credit goes to the German firm for persevering and coming back with a much improved version, instead of washing its hands and denying all knowledge.

Volkswagen Fox

For a brand with a fine history of building great small cars - the Polo and the Up, for example - VW got it very wrong with the Fox. Built in Brazil, it looked and felt like it should be wearing a much cheaper badge, and customers had come to expect something much better from VW. One best forgotten.

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