When it comes to designing cars, it may not come as a shock that all the money doesn’t get allocated across the car equally. Instead, each group- interior, steering, exterior lighting, etc, each gets a percentage of the overall development budget, and some are slighted to the benefit of others. That’s painfully evident when you get in a car that has great specs on paper – room, road competence – and then discover that the quality of the interior materials is on par with carnival tchotchkes.
One way to mitigate that is for various models across a manufacturer’s stable to share parts, all the way up to the basic platform upon which they ride. Ford’s a big believer in the mantra of the shared platform, having underlain damn-near everything they built in the U.S. during the late ’70s to early ’80s on the generosity of one Mr. Fox. The Fairmont, Mustang, Thunderbird, LTD, and Granada, plus their complimenting Mercury and Lincoln products, all shared basics of suspension mounting points and firewall design. A later version of this is Volvo’s P2 platform, the basics of which underpins such diverse products as that company’s XC90, the Lincoln MXS (Ford D3) and the Ford Flex (Ford D4).
And Ford is not alone in playing this game – GM has also practiced platform cloning, their products sometimes being referred to by their family design code – B-body, F-body, etc. And of course Volkswagen cranks out platform sharers across not just makes but nations – Skoda and Seat getting platforms from the German maker to clothe regionally. Sometimes this ubiquity of platform can breed out individual brand personalities, while other times it’s hardly even noticeable to either casual observer or even the driver. Considering that some makers do a better job than others at hiding all the similar bits, which shared platform do you think does the best job at keeping things under wraps?