Friday, April 29, 2016

Car Features - The Pops and Flops of Cory's Administration

Fresh from a snap election, the administration of Corazon Aquino saw numerous events related to the automotive industry, especially that her term saw the various car development programs for passenger cars and commercial vehicles in 1987 and the People's Car Program in 1990 that ushered in numerous affordable vehicles but was a mixed success.

In this feature, we shall discover the vehicles that were launched from 1986 til 1991 (technically, her term is until June 30, 1992 but that first six months are considered under Fidel Ramos') and discover the hits and the misses in terms of sales and market reception. We will revise the rule especially that not much car launches occurred: we will list down the vehicles which we think are successful or failures on that term and not on a per year basis. Lastly, we will be focusing more on mainstream brands and less for luxury brands. In this series, we will be including vehicle related events that had occurred.

Mitsubishi L300 (1987)

Nothing says time warp to the late 80s with the L300, especially in Versa Van guise that had first arrived. Either an option between a 2.0 carbureted gasoline or a 2.5 4D56 diesel, this 12 seater van didn't had any direct competition in the market which ensured its supremacy. Popularity waned at the turn of the millennium with more modern and updated rivals that existed. Three spin off versions existed: the cab and chassis model which gave birth to the popular FB body and aluminum truck styles that are still popular until today, the Exceed van which has a two tone exterior paint and power amenities which didn't catch on, and its successor the Spacegear which also wasn't popular too. The Versa Van was killed sometime in 2011.

Mitsubishi Pajero (1988)

Probably the first SUV to be sold locally, the Pajero competes in a market where only or none rivals that exist. That single choice in the market turned to be an advantage, especially that its high stance was a hit among the wealthy that wanted something that can go anywhere while retaining an image. Although more expensive and featured packed today, this one started everything.

Toyota Corolla, Liteace, and Crown (1988)

1988 saw the return of Toyota, which was absent when political instability and an economic crisis hit the mid-80s, through a new company. Operations started in September of that year but semi-knocked down assembly commenced in February 1989 for three models: Corolla, Crown, and Liteace. First the Corolla was the comeback of the best seller and one of the popular choices out there, especially that you can get either a 1.3 carburated engine or a 1.6 carb but with 16 valves. The Crown can be had in either 2.2 or 2.8 engines but the level of uberness match the likes of the Benz. The Liteace became popular as the other people mover especially for those who find the L300 a bit bulky. Although the Crown and Liteace are gone and the Corolla grew a bit larger, their roots can be traced here.

Kia Pride (1990)

Columbian Autocar Corporation brought in the Kia brand from Korea and it was the only successful entrant of the People's Car Development Program and you can buy one at the cheap brand new, since earlier units don't hover above P200,000. Basic as it seems, it had no power steering, audio system, or alloy wheels (though the GT-X sedan in 1996 gets it) but does the job done. A sedan model was added in 1992 and replaced by the Rio for the sedan and Picanto for the hatchback in 2000 and 2004 respectively.

Mitsubishi Galant (1987)

The Galant was the next thing if you were to graduate from a Lancer at that time, since no direct rivals existed during its time. Although there are the Super Saloon for public consumption in either 1.8 carb or 2.0 EFI models, the GTI was a niche vehicle during its time, although the latter morphed as the VR when it was redesigned in 1993.

Nissan Sentra (August 1991)

Although the first Sentras that had arrived suffered various quality problems, the B13 Sentra brought back confidence to buyers alike. One notable thing that made them popular was the standard anti-lock brakes (for the Super Saloon) in its class, something that rivals had later on. This body was so popular that this overlapped the next generation B14 as the LEC which was mostly sold to taxi fleets.

Nissan Pulsar (February 1986)

After the Stanza in 1983, the Pulsar was added to the line-up during the bloody month of February. We had to admit that the pop-up lights looked cool, it was something painful to fix and it didn't help that this car flopped. We may not know that it would be the first of Nissan's flops.

Nissan Maxima (1988)

Called as the Nissan Violet in Japan, the Maxima is compact size but this rivals the likes of the Galant. Although this has power windows and steering as standard, it failed to capture buyers and we don't know why. Two strikes for Nissan and their first in the mid-size market.

Nissan Cefiro (August 1989)

Another Nissan that had failed to capture the hearts of buyers, this A31 Cefiro became special among drift enthusiasts since it was rear wheel drive (the only Cefiro to do so). Their third strike of failure but the A32 model in 1996 became a success.

Nissan Bluebird (October 1990)

Our fourth Nissan flop in this list alone, people had no idea on this vehicle's existence but you can't deny how luxurious is this thing is and this vehicle introduced us to electronic fuel injection system in our engines. It was replaced in 1993 by no less than a flopped replacement, the Altima.

Toyota Corona (April 1991)

Back in the 70s and 80s, the Corona was a popular choice among the elite class back then and basketball player Robert Jaworski used to endorse this vehicle which gained the nickname "Macho Machine" and sprouted the Silver Edition model. Reviving this one didn't had the popularity of its predecessor as the Galant outsold it even further.

Mazda Bongo (1988)

Bet you don't know this: Francisco Motors Corporation (yes, the one who assembles passenger jeeps) used to build Mazda vans, pickup trucks, and commercial vehicles. Among those is the Bongo van, which rivals the L300 Versa Van, which didn't topple the latter vehicle. We had no idea how this failed but to be honest, nobody knew this van existed.

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