Hooniverse Asks- What Car Has Changed Most Since its Introduction?

Transsexualism is a challenge for some, and represents a radical change in both look and function for the individual affected. That kind of switcheroo happens to cars and trucks too, although seemingly without quite so much soul searching. Some cars start off down one path, their creators waving as the leave; telling them to have fun storming the castle, only to later return unrecognizable.
That must have been the case when the Mustang II first appeared and failed to capture the hearts and minds of the pony car faithful, it being so different a beast from its predecessors. That’s also a likely scenario of GM’s fastback mid-sizer A-bodies when they first debuted. Not only were they significantly smaller and anglier than their ancestors, but they lacked – in many a mind – a proper three-box silhouette.
Of course there have been others, and that’s where you come in. What car or truck, in you estimation, have most radically changed since it was first introduced? And yeah, you look great in that pencil skirt.
Image source: [usedforddealers, productioncars.com]

64 Comments

    1. That Gen. I is awesome in it's simplicity. My dad owned a Gen I, II (wagon), and IV. I learned to drive in my grandfather's Gen. II wagon, and my dad's Gen. IV sedan. I've owned a Gen VII and 2 different generation Accords.
      What has happened to all the Gen III and Gen IV's? I never see them on the road.

      1. Rust, then more rust. I haven't seen a prior-to-fourth-generation Civic on the road in New England since… actually, I don't remember the last time. There are two fourth-generations in decent shape left in my small town, though, somehow.

        1. I had a gen III. The front left suspension collapsed due to rust. I fixed it. It started eating coolant. I bought another car. While sitting and waiting for a charity to take it away, the front right suspension collapsed due to rust.
          It was fun to drive though.

    2. Gen II to III is the biggest change. Every generation after that is gradual evolution.

    1. I was in high school when the Accord launched, and I can remember a friend's dad giving money under the table to get on a dealer's waiting list for one.

    2. I was in high school when the Accord launched, and I can remember that a friend's dad paid money under the table to a Honda salesman to get on the waiting list for one. The MSRP was $3,499, but people were paying upwards of $5,000 to get one. Crazy.

      1. That wasn't unusual especially when the Japanese makers had their "voluntary" import limits. When I was shopping for a new CRX in late '83, some dealers were charging over $10,000 for a car that listed for $6,600. It took me a long time to find a dealer that wouldn't overcharge, and even then I still had to wait over three months.

  1. Buick LaCrosse. Which is a very dramatic change.
    Buick Regal. Which has gone from awesome to underwhelming in a matter of 20 years.

      1. I sell them and I'm pretty excited about the GS even though it's not AWD and sporting a V6. As a former Cobalt SS T/C owner, I'm confident GM can do a high output FWD car very well. If they were smart it would have no lift shift like the Cobalt. It took forever to get used to, but once you did, you were an unstoppable beast. (The FWD Impala/Monte SS do not count as good GM FWD)
        We are the number 1 Buick dealer by volume for 2010 and GM was kind enough to drop one off at our store for our party back in February. It's damn awesome. I'm hoping Mitchy-Poo will let me review it when it hits. Just not sure if it's Hooniverse material.
        However, I'm referring to it be underwhelming by comparison to the GN/GNX.

      1. I meant GN/GNX. My dad and I have 1 of 400. It never leaves the garage at his house in Indy.

    1. The more things change, the more they remain the same, though. The 1st gen & current gen Chrysler minivans are very similar in their boxiness, while the two middle gens were very rounded.

    2. Actually, the current generation Caravan/T&C looks like a homage to the first generation. The lines are crisp and it's better looking than the bloated jellybean of the previous generation.
      My father bought a first generation Voyager, which came with a 5 speed on the floor. You don't see that anymore and it was the last vehicle that he drove with a 5 speed. Loved that Voyager. He now has a 2007 T&C.

  2. How about the Ford Exploror?
    Then: built on a Ranger chassis and a decent comperitor to the Jeep Cherokee, AND at the same time creating a new class of vehicle
    Now: just another wussified crossover!

  3. My obvious answer is the Civic, but that has been covered.
    People crap pile on the Mustang II, but 1974 Mustang II sales were triple those of 1973, and every successive year of the Mustang II outsold the '73 as well. Perhaps it did "fail to capture the hearts and minds of the pony car faithful," but obviously it captured the wallet of a lot of other people. The rebodied Pinto kept the Mustang alive, so that we now have a 400HP version you can buy from any Ford dealer lot.

    1. I've noticed that when you look at the Mustang II from a neutral perspective, you can see the obvious homage to the first generation model.
      It was an attempt to re-capture lightning in a bottle.
      If it had been tried in an era other than the malaise era, it might have been more successful.

      1. This is precisely my point. Ford sold nearly 400,000 of these in '74, and over 150K for the rest of the years. How is this NOT successful?
        Were they powerful? Were they well built and refined? No, but no other American car in that era was either. It was the best they could do at the time (which isn't a compliment), but they still sold a crap ton of them, and in my mind it's successful.

    2. Additionally, it was a continuation of the same formula as the original Mustang: sporty car based on a low-end compact.
      By any measure, the Falcon was not a particularly great car…it's just that it didn't come in an era when horsepower ratings were dropping by the week.

      1. Bonus of the Mustang ll was it was very reliable compared to it's competition , looking at you Chevy Vega

  4. The first thing that came to mind for me is the Corolla. While conceptually, it's still basically the same car, it's changed over the years at least as much as the aforementioned Civic has (bonus: the Corolla changed from RWD to FWD, and had some AWD variants thrown in during that transitional period in the 80s).

  5. My answer to almost all questions
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/VolkswagenBeetle-001.jpg/800px-VolkswagenBeetle-001.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Engine moved
    Engine Orientation changed
    Engine Layout changed
    Gas tank moved
    Cooling type changed
    Utilitarianism reduced
    Switched from a cheap, reliable, small commuter car to an impractical fashion statement for college girls and middle age women.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/54/2006-2007_Volkswagen_New_Beetle.jpg/800px-2006-2007_Volkswagen_New_Beetle.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Personal Runners-up
    Toyota Celica
    Ford Explorer

    1. Except that they're just not the same car.
      Now, if the platform was the same but the mechanics were different, then it would probably still apply.

      1. And how is a Gen 1 Civic in anyway the same platform as the latest model? This definitely applies.

    1. so pretty – from what I've heard, they drive like trucks, but I couldn't care less. it's not like I will ever own one

      1. Not that I know from first hand experience, but, Maserati Mexicos are fast, very comfortable and stop and corner "adequately". It's an Italian personal luxury car….with everything good/bad that the phrase implies.
        And, should I ever win the SuperHyperMegaPowerball lottery, the Mexico would be the second car in my fantasy garage…right next to the 300 SEL 6.3.

  6. <img src="http://www.productioncars.com/send_file.php/chevy_corvette_white_1953.jpg&quot; />
    -six-cylinder engine only
    -2-speed automatic transmission only
    -one exterior and interior color combo
    -convertible only
    -no side windows
    -passenger car chassis
    <img src="http://images.wikia.com/gran-turismo/images/b/b4/CorvetteC6.jpg&quot; width="500" />
    -choice of 3 V8s*
    -choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission*
    -many exterior and interior color combos
    -choice of targa roof coupe, fixed roof coupe and convertible body styles*
    -power side windows
    -chassis not currently shared with any other product line
    *depending on model

    1. From a 150HP automatic cruiser with no real sporting ability to a 638HP 6-speed track monster.
      Thanks Zora!

  7. Fundamentally the same car. Big RWD cruiser, mild styling for it's time, V8 up front, live axle in back.

  8. To be fair, it made that process within about 5 years (Malaise Era, I'm lookin' at you), it just took the occasional break from the bland.

    1. You both have your rose-tinted nostalgia spectacles on. In its day (1960s and 1970s), the Impala outside of the SS model was thought of as being just as bland as the current ones are now. They were about as generic as American cars got. In fact, on absolute terms, I'd say that the current Impala is a far, far more capable car than the 1967 ever was. As charismatic as the '67? Of course not, but the '67 wasn't particularly charismatic when it was new.

      1. So very true. Until, oh I'd say about the mid 80s, the sister GM brands were always better looking to me than the Chevrolets. Well, if not better looking, at least more interesting. Just park a 67 Impala next to a 67 Bonneville or LeSabre for illustrative purposes.

  9. Pet rocks and plaid bell-bottoms WERE successful for their time. Just because we don't look back fondly on them now, does it negate their success at the time?
    If you want to argue that the legacy of something after its initial success tarnishes the image (a la X-body's numerous recalls), fine, but as I said before, the Mustang II was an adequate placeholder at the time and kept the name and image alive long enough to survive the Malaise Era and improve.

  10. How about the Pontiac LeMans it went from a monster piece of Detroit iron to a bad copy of a Kadett made by Daewoo

  11. How about one that changed the most from the first generation in one generation? Noted from above I see cars that have gotten bigger, larger over the years, but the Mazda MPV moved from a rear drive chassis with swing-out doors, some off-road cred (though it wasn't body on frame; I always suspected it was) to the now-conventional front-drive, low-floor-tall-ceiling, sliding-door-equipped car.
    <img src="http://mazda-mpv.info/gallery/photos/1998/mazda-mpv-photo-6.jpg&quot; width="400/">
    <img src="http://www.japanesecartrade.com/show_picture.php?stock_no=337888&picture_id=a&pic_size=3&quot; width="400/">
    I can imagine the dozen pre-1999 MPV enthusiasts clutch their hearts going "Why, Mazda! Why!"

  12. Surprised nobody has mentioned the Corolla. From cheap eco-box to surprise-street-legend (AE86), and now appliance.
    The Chevelle is another one that has completely reversed its image several times, started life as a gutsy family hauler; turned into a raging, steroidal, musclecar; died a horrid little crapcan.

  13. Well, every car has changed to a few their limits. That’s a good point of technology that it is constantly changing and evolving and providing comforts. Japanese cars

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