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Old 09-02-2008, 10:01 PM   #1
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end of Kappa cars?

The Kappa II platform is reportedly cut from future production. The Kappa is currently used in the Solstice and Sky, but the successor is on hold. If the program is cancelled, there is still hope for the Solstice and Sky because the upcoming Cadillac Alpha platform can theoretically be fitted to both of these cars. Kappa cars are among the best performing sports cars available, so hopefully any Alpha sports cars perform just as well or better. Article is by Leftlane.

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Old 09-02-2008, 10:29 PM   #2
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GM was losing 10 grand for each Kappa sold. While the Sky and Solstice are great cars, the fact that they cost so much to build with absolutely no profit justifies this decision.

IMO, all the Kappas were meant to do was re-ignite interest in GM. They've done their jobs.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:33 PM   #3
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If the Camaro SS is priced where many of you would like to see it, then we will be reading a similar article sometime in the near future about the Camaro being cancelled for lack of profitability.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:35 PM   #4
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http://blogs.edmunds.com/straightlin....html#comments

Another story on it.

The fact that they lost 10 grand on each one sold shows the true depth of the incompetency at GM. They sold twice as many Skys/Solstices as Mazda MX-5s. The volume should allow for cheaper production. Yet Mazda has no problem selling MX-5s at a profit, and they sticker for less too!

Its probably best they're canned though. With the way GM does things, the next gen would probably weight 4100 lbs due to "safety requirements", never-mind Mazda is reducing the weight on the next-gen MX-5, all while sticking to the laws that governs GM.

So I imagine that Saturn will get yet another clone of the Aveo instead. Since Pontiac already has its Aveo clone (G3) announced, I imagine it will be getting its version of the Lambda 3 row crossover, the G12.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:30 PM   #5
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hmmm...not suprising after reading the reasoning. I believe this was Bob Lutz second product for GM (after the GTO). Like somebody said - they were probably intended to draw eyes more than anything - they're not awfully practical. But they didn't say they're gone for good: 'Shelved' means they're holding it for a better day. They could simply go on a 2-3 year hiatus. Alpha has to be coming (as in: not shelved) - you can't have a totally RWD-absent lineup. So they could come back, and be cheaper to build this time around.

When you're looking to save money, the first place you start is to plug the leaks where you're loosing cash needlessly:

From the ground up Kappa cars are costly; starting with the frame no less. The Kappa architecture is hydroformed as part of the fabrication process to achieve the dimensions and frame rails needed. Many of the body panels (namely the hood, deck-lid, and fenders) are hydroformed as well. Hydra-forming is a costly fabrication method, particularly for vehicles that have such low starting prices and low volume to boot. Add on the fact that the Kappa vehicles are largely “hand built” cars (at least by today’s standards); it becomes quite evident why GM will likely never get a return on investment with the Kappa products.

Is it really that suprising that these are being pulled? Holy cow! Even if they were FWD, they'd be axed!!!

Besides, once the labor deal kicks in in 2010, and they start making a few bucks on CARS...I really think GM will begin to spend money on more fun cars - like they started to a few years back...before this ugly conglomerate of problems fell on all the automakers.

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If the Camaro SS is priced where many of you would like to see it, then we will be reading a similar article sometime in the near future about the Camaro being cancelled for lack of profitability.
Not quite.
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Old 09-03-2008, 01:53 AM   #6
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hmmm...not suprising after reading the reasoning. I believe this was Bob Lutz second product for GM (after the GTO). Like somebody said - they were probably intended to draw eyes more than anything - they're not awfully practical. But they didn't say they're gone for good: 'Shelved' means they're holding it for a better day. They could simply go on a 2-3 year hiatus. Alpha has to be coming (as in: not shelved) - you can't have a totally RWD-absent lineup. So they could come back, and be cheaper to build this time around.

When you're looking to save money, the first place you start is to plug the leaks where you're loosing cash needlessly:

From the ground up Kappa cars are costly; starting with the frame no less. The Kappa architecture is hydroformed as part of the fabrication process to achieve the dimensions and frame rails needed. Many of the body panels (namely the hood, deck-lid, and fenders) are hydroformed as well. Hydra-forming is a costly fabrication method, particularly for vehicles that have such low starting prices and low volume to boot. Add on the fact that the Kappa vehicles are largely “hand built” cars (at least by today’s standards); it becomes quite evident why GM will likely never get a return on investment with the Kappa products.

Is it really that suprising that these are being pulled? Holy cow! Even if they were FWD, they'd be axed!!!

Besides, once the labor deal kicks in in 2010, and they start making a few bucks on CARS...I really think GM will begin to spend money on more fun cars - like they started to a few years back...before this ugly conglomerate of problems fell on all the automakers.


Not quite.
I wouldn't hold my breath on Alpha. Being RWD it will surely get 1 mpg less than a similar FWD architecture, and you know GM just can't stomach that. As has been said plenty of times, GM really wanted to cancel the Camaro and G8, but they were too far along. Anything else that has such an evil layout as RWD will not be tolerated.

It doesn't much matter if they're practical or not. GM is selling a ton of them, and demand is still strong. That's despite having inferior steering feel, inferior handling, and a cheap interior. They annihilated Mazda's far superior (in all areas but looks) car in sales. Now imagine if they made it competitive and figured out how to build it at a reasonable cost (hint: hydroforming and hand building are not part of that equation) it would be an unquestioned hit for GM. This concept really isn't difficult. As Jeremy Clarkson described it, it is as simple "as beans on toast".

But why would GM go through that effort when clearly what they need is another class leading, selling-like-hotcakes Aveo rebadge. And of course, they've only given Lambda to 4 divisions. They're only half-way done there. And the Malibu/Aura has only been done twice. They have tons of models left to rebadge before they can even think of making a new car.

What GM needs is cars that truly inspire, like the days of Motorama. And I'm not saying to go retro. The Motorama cars weren't retro. They looked nowhere but to the future. Until GM can look ahead and design vehicles that truly tap into the market ahead of us, they'll be stuck cloning vehicles to simply chase the market that's already slipping away.
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Old 09-03-2008, 02:16 AM   #7
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I wouldn't hold my breath on Alpha. Being RWD it will surely get 1 mpg less than a similar FWD architecture, and you know GM just can't stomach that. As has been said plenty of times, GM really wanted to cancel the Camaro and G8, but they were too far along. Anything else that has such an evil layout as RWD will not be tolerated.
Now hang on a minute. I think you're taking that bit about the Camaro and G8 out of context a little bit. Whoever said they wanted to cancel them? I remember the interview where they said the Camaro is far enough along to escape review...but you make it sound as though they wish to kill every performance car they've got. I'd be confident even the Camaro would have passed a "product review". The mpg was about the Impala - a 250+ car a YEAR platform...switching to RWD would have deterred buyers, and yes cost a mpg or two...in a vehicle of that volume, you need to be careful.

EDIT: And I'm confident in Alpha's introduction not being too hampered. They only have four RWD platforms currently. Sigma, Kappa, Zeta, and the Y-body (Corvette). Two of them are stupid-expensive, one of them is unique to a single vehicle and not very adaptable - and the last, most versatile platform (Zeta) is on the large side of the scale. They need something to compliment Zeta, which would be Alpha. But more than all of this: Cadillac needs an 1-series/3-series fighter....they have nothing near that class right now; and Sigma cannot shrink down that small.

It doesn't much matter if they're practical or not. GM is selling a ton of them, and demand is still strong. ((Are you sure of that? LINK They sell approx. 20,000 a year each, and that's a declining number.)) That's despite having inferior steering feel, inferior handling, and a cheap interior. They annihilated Mazda's far superior (in all areas but looks) car in sales. Now imagine if they made it competitive and figured out how to build it at a reasonable cost (hint: hydroforming and hand building are not part of that equation) it would be an unquestioned hit for GM. This concept really isn't difficult. As Jeremy Clarkson described it, it is as simple "as beans on toast".
I have no idea why they decided to build the car the way that they did. I'm not defending that. But now they must make a choice: continue losing money on a mediocre-selling car? Or shelve it FOR NOW, let the G8 become Pontiac's attention grabber - and stop losing money. The business decision for this move is what I'm defending.(to a point)

But why would GM go through that effort when clearly what they need is another class leading, selling-like-hotcakes Aveo rebadge. And of course, they've only given Lambda to 4 divisions. They're only half-way done there. And the Malibu/Aura has only been done twice. They have tons of models left to rebadge before they can even think of making a new car.
Now you're just ranting...
Give it a year or two. Hopefully, by 2010, things will start to turn around as far as business goes; and after all these cuts, and cost trimmings, etc - GM will be lean and fit for another series of great car introductions. What they're doing now, and what they've been doing is trying to ensure their survival to that point...surely you'd not rather see them die in a blaze of 'glory', than adapt to the market.
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Old 09-03-2008, 02:52 AM   #8
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Adapting would be brilliant. Putting the Sky/Solstice on Alpha (if it even exists anymore) would be the clearly logical choice. In fact for a while now I had been under the impression that there wouldn't be a Kappa II, and they were going to go for Alpha. But has anything come of Alpha? Not one single concept car. Sure Cadillac keeps talking about a 1 and 3 series fighter, and you would think they'd give the platform to Pontiac to get some volume savings. However, now the plan is to make Pontiac focused on rebadged Chevy small cars, mainly Aveo, Cobalt, and Cruze, so it looks like the Alpha car is out of the picture. And with the cancellation of large RWD vehicles, the phrasing was "Camaro escaped review (or cutting, or whatever) because it was so far along. I take that to mean that if it wasn't for being so far along, it wouldn't have escaped.

Also, you keep talking about how GM needs Alpha because they only have one commercially viable RWD platform and it is large, and they need a small one to compliment that. But is that the impression GM is giving? The message I'm hearing from GM loud and clear is that they don't really want to do RWD because of fuel concerns. As long as they're risk adverse (and what company exemplifies risk adverse more than GM?) then RWD is not a given. It is a risk and GM isn't comfortable with that.

Sorry, but Alpha is really personal to me. I love the Camaro and everything, but some of the retro-for-the-sake-of-retro, like the unusable 4-pack gauges and the bad visibility, combined with the large size and weight, is giving me second thoughts. I'm wanting something more forward thinking, something creating a new heritage. Alpha represented that to me, but I've gotten my hopes up so many times just to have them dashed that I'm really not too receptive of GM's promise of modern performance cars anymore.

As far as the Solstice/Sky:

No the sales numbers aren't large in an absolute sense, but when you're doubling the sales of the best selling sports car in history, you're doing alright for the segment.

What bothers me is that GM made cars that weren't the best, but were clearly just a generation away from being truly legendary, but now we lost them because GM made a poor manufacturing decision. Lame.
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Old 09-03-2008, 03:35 AM   #9
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Is there a possibility that GM can tool the Alpha line, or set it up, in such a manner to be RWD, FWD, or even AWD? Because if so, this could be a major break through for GM. I could easily see GM pouring money into an Alpha line that can accommodate more vehicle types.

Could you all see a lighter Alpha Camaro, CTS coupe, Sky, Solstice, Cobalt, Aveo, etc. being built on a speific line?
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:02 PM   #10
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I'm not sure I can see all those vehicles being built on it.

Alpha can at best accommodate a V6. Without the possibility of a V8 having a Camaro on the Alpha platform is questionable. Sure anything is possible for the next gen, but I think if we were to take a poll here not many people would be in favor of a 6th Gen that didn't even offer a V8.

I've heard it is possible to shrink Alpha enough to build the Sky and Solstice on it. Then there's the BMW 1/3 series fighter. Make a budget version for Pontiac, Opel, and Holden, and you're looking pretty solid on volume.

I want to focus the idea on the Pontiac, Opel, and Holden version. Just imagine a RWD performance car available in coupe, sedan, and convertible form, just like the current G6, and a bit smaller. Weight below 3600 lbs (maybe not for 'vert). Base trim with a 2.4L making 180ish hp, GT with the TC/DI 2.0L making 260+ hp, and a GXP with a DI 3.6 making north of 300 hp. Wide tires, 6 speeds all around, strong brakes, and a competent suspension to round it all out. No trace of retro at all. This would be entirely moving forward and creating a new heritage for GM to have in the future. Sound good? That's what I've been craving for a long time now, and every so often I hear its been canceled or delayed, again.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:08 PM   #11
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Actually the Sky, Solstice, OpelGT and the Hundai versions are selling very well, More than were first projected.
At first the target for the Solstice was 20K per year, the Sky was 10K and the other 2 were 5 K each, with that volumn GM said they could make a profit on the cars. So far if I remember all of them have sold and are still selling at that rate. So was GM wrong on their estimate of making a profit on the Kappas?
I cannot believe that GM would miss the mark by $10,000 per car. that would mean my Sky actually cost GM $38,000 to make? I don't think so.
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:30 PM   #12
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I cant remember where i read or heard this but this i what i think GM should do. The next gen corvette platform will probably be a bit smaller. So take that platform and put a four cylinder with some cheaper body styling and call it a sky and solstice. Then have higher performance suspension, brakes...etc in the Corvette with the same platform just with corvette styling. And ofcourse a massive V8. Maybe even a twin turbo V6.
When it all comes down to it, the solstice and sky will be more practicle because it will be slightly larger but with all the same fun of the current ones. And they can be sold cheaper because it is sharing a platform with the Corvette. And at the same time the Corvette will be slightly smaller which makes it better for power to weight ratios and for better handling.
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Old 09-03-2008, 01:54 PM   #13
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Also, you keep talking about how GM needs Alpha because they only have one commercially viable RWD platform and it is large, and they need a small one to compliment that. But is that the impression GM is giving? The message I'm hearing from GM loud and clear is that they don't really want to do RWD because of fuel concerns. As long as they're risk adverse (and what company exemplifies risk adverse more than GM?) then RWD is not a given. It is a risk and GM isn't comfortable with that. Right now.
And do you blame them, really? Though I may not like it that a large portion of the proposed RWD cars have been cancelled - I believe they're making the right decisions.

Sorry, but Alpha is really personal to me. I love the Camaro and everything, but some of the retro-for-the-sake-of-retro, like the unusable 4-pack gauges and the bad visibility, combined with the large size and weight, is giving me second thoughts. I'm wanting something more forward thinking, something creating a new heritage. Alpha represented that to me, but I've gotten my hopes up so many times just to have them dashed that I'm really not too receptive of GM's promise of modern performance cars anymore.
I see nothing done on the 5th gen Camaro as "retro for the sake of retro". I see cues and ideas taken from then, and implemented into the now. That doesn't qualify for retro if it's done right: which is IS done right. Especially to younger folks who have never seen the inside of a '69 Camaro. The little 4-pack will be a neat neat feature to them.

The IRS, the structural rigidity, the powertrains, the comfort, and the quality: I think they're ALL forward thinking. No Camaro has ever followed the 5th gen's formula before: Refined, but aggressive. If you like Alpha, then that's your perogative -- and you'll be pleased I think, because it's rumored to be based off the flexible-architecture that Zeta utilizes. But personally; I don't believe Camaro would make a good Alpha-car.
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Is there a possibility that GM can tool the Alpha line, or set it up, in such a manner to be RWD, FWD, or even AWD? Because if so, this could be a major break through for GM. I could easily see GM pouring money into an Alpha line that can accommodate more vehicle types.

Could you all see a lighter Alpha Camaro, CTS coupe, Sky, Solstice, Cobalt, Aveo, etc. being built on a speific line?
I don't think so. A flex-line (as in Oshawa) as I understand it; can easily be converted to a different platform; but those platforms can't run all at the same time. So a Cobalt wouldn't be built next to a Camaro. But a G8 ST might...you see what I mean?

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Alpha can at best accommodate a V6. Without the possibility of a V8 having a Camaro on the Alpha platform is questionable. Sure anything is possible for the next gen, but I think if we were to take a poll here not many people would be in favor of a 6th Gen that didn't even offer a V8.
Actually...they probably could shoehorn a V8 into Alpha - dimentionally-speaking; a V8 and a V6 aren't terribly different...but it would play hell with wieght transfer, and you'd probably end up with another scrunched engine bay ala 4thgen.

I want to focus the idea on the Pontiac, Opel, and Holden version. Just imagine a RWD performance car available in coupe, sedan, and convertible form, just like the current G6, and a bit smaller. Weight below 3600 lbs (maybe not for 'vert). Base trim with a 2.4L making 180ish hp, GT with the TC/DI 2.0L making 260+ hp, and a GXP with a DI 3.6 making north of 300 hp. Wide tires, 6 speeds all around, strong brakes, and a competent suspension to round it all out. No trace of retro at all. This would be entirely moving forward and creating a new heritage for GM to have in the future. Sound good? That's what I've been craving for a long time now, and every so often I hear its been canceled or delayed, again.
So you're looking for a brand new car, then. Almost a Cobalt-sized RWD vehicle...That's what Alpha would be for -- and that's why I think they'll do it. Cadillac, I think, would have the most pull as far as continuing its development. Since they want to become a legit Luxury brand -- they need a small RWD car. And Cadillac buyers will pay more for said car; thus absorbing some of the initial costs.

Wishful thinking? Possibly -- but I'd rather think this way than condemn GM for holding the production of a money-sucking niche vehicle.
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Old 09-03-2008, 03:19 PM   #14
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I want to run with this retro argument.

All mainstream production cars derive their inspiration from a variety of factors. Of these factors, tradition is a huge one. A great instance of this is the Corvette, a car that has featured the exact same lines since the second generation.

Other cars derive inspiration from the competition. The Mustang was a compact muscle car with a specific layout. The Camaro was designed to best the Mustang, but it did so by using similar lines and features. Kappa cars are very much the same as the Camaro's tradition in that they were designed to writhe the market away from Mazda's classic Miata. Except for the profitability problem, this has been a great success. The Kappa sports cars are stylish cars based on Miata shapes. If they were constructed more like compacts (high rear, slanted front, less curvy, etc.), then buyers might not associate the Miata and the Sky in the same category.

When a car follows a trend and that trend becomes successful, other cars in the category will follow. The Mustang's redesign featured classic cues, and the Camaro will once again outdo the Mustang with an emphasis on both modern and classic styles. By merging these traits, buyers can purchase a new car with a classic feel—a great way to bring back a car from hiatus.

GM is not going retro without reason. GM is one of the best-run businesses out there. They know the American market, at least traditionally. Recent trends show that Americans are concerned about large utility vehicles, including trucks and SUVs, for their fuel consumption. That hurt GM because, traditionally, Americans bought Silverados and Yukons en masse. In fewer words, GM follows market trends. If GM were to bring a classic theme to the Kappa models, making them look like classic MG sports convertibles, I'm sure it would sell. Everyone loves those cars, so why avoid it?

I think all I'm trying to say here is that GM makes its decisions based upon market trends and consumer responses to those trends.
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Old 09-03-2008, 10:26 PM   #15
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GM makes decisions based upon market trends and consumer responses to those trends.
Just as every other car manufacturer does the exact same thing.

Most four-door sedans look very similar to each other regardless of manufacturer. This is partially the result of decades of rounding edges and raising the tail ends of cars to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase fuel economy. You have to look for badging or differences in headlight and grill design just to try to differentiate between the scores of look-alikes.

Or a car manufacturer can chose to deliberately make a unique design that will stand out and can be easily recognized as a specific model or brand. But doing so guarantees a design that some people will love but others will hate. And if more people hate the design than those that love it, then sales are abysmal. The modern sharp-edged Cadillacs were a design risk that paid off. But some people still hate them, including long-time older Cadillac owners (like my Dad).

Going retro and utilizing styling from a legendary vehicle from the past (such as the '69 Camaro coupe) brings instant goodwill with people who remember it and increases the percentage of people who will love the design. The movie industry does the same thing. Sequels to successful movies, remakes of older successful movies, and movie versions of successful television shows are all less risky than making a totally new movie that has to earn its own audience.

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Old 09-04-2008, 12:25 AM   #16
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Losing the Kappa cars is depressing. They were decent performers and good looking cars.

The prospect of a 3 series fighter from Cadillac has me excited though. That'd be amazing.
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Old 09-04-2008, 03:36 PM   #17
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Is there a possibility that GM can tool the Alpha line, or set it up, in such a manner to be RWD, FWD, or even AWD? Because if so, this could be a major break through for GM. I could easily see GM pouring money into an Alpha line that can accommodate more vehicle types.

Could you all see a lighter Alpha Camaro, CTS coupe, Sky, Solstice, Cobalt, Aveo, etc. being built on a speific line?
That would take a massive amount of engineering and money that GM doesn't have. Cobalt will forever be FWD, same as the Cruze. Aveo probably wouldn't even fit on the same platform. Sky and Solstice on Alpha are definite possibilities, but Camaro will remain forever on Zeta and the CTS/CTS Coupe/CTS Wagon are all rumored to switch from Sigma over to Zeta after a while or the two platforms will be combined.
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Old 09-04-2008, 03:53 PM   #18
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Ok Kappa Owners think of this.. the Kappas cost 10K more then they sell for, that means a 27K Kappa is really worth 37K.. Soo if that is true then that means if and when they drop the Kappa cars, we will have instant classics that should quickly jump up in value...... no more being built (as long as they are being built you can get them cheaper) Low volume is also on our side. It's not that the car is a failure, its GM's Economics.

may be a good investment if you young guys want to get one and hold on to it for 20 or 30 years.
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Old 09-04-2008, 04:52 PM   #19
Vash


 
Drives: 00 Blazer
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 5,128
Well it's not really instant classic. It needs to age 25+ years first.

And parts & service will be hard to find. Right now there are a LOT of NLA parts at Chevy dealer (for olders cars). Not saying it's not good. It's a good solid car. But GM needs to get back to basics and get sales going again.

There should not be a need to try to fill every single tiny sales nich.
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