More Weird and Wonky American Cars Oct 14, 2016 by Ian (Driver Weekly)
1991 Chevrolet Caprice
The fourth generation Chevrolet Caprice was a necessary replacement for the previous model, an aging and rectangular holdout from 1977. While the previous generation of the full-sized premium car had been angular but balanced in its proportions, the replacement swung much too far the other way. The next model was rounded with skirted rear wheel wells that people called a “beached whale” and an “upside down bathtub.” No one liked the design in styling clincs but GM thought that they knew better—unsurprisingly, sales were worse than expected. The Caprice was yet another car from The General with an amazing powertrain (first the L03 and L05 and then the iconic LT1) but mediocre fittings. Remarkably, this wagon shared its LT1 V8 with the Corvette, albeit detuned and with an unreliable ignition. Despite its styling errors, the Caprice Estate was a stately vehicle with an upper-class sense of style, the last gasp of a traditional domestic wagon from Chevrolet. It was the end of an era when the Caprice was put out to pasture in 1996.
1988 Dodge Dynasty
The Dodge Dynasty stood out from the crowd—in a bad way. Both odd and depressing, the Dodge Dynasty was an incredibly conservative luxury sedan that revealed the final limitations of the redoubtable Chrysler K-Car. Released with an unbelievably boxy appearance at a time when the Ford Taurus had transformed new cars into “jelly beans,” the Dodge Dynasty only got worse from there. Early commercials went so far as to laud the car as an European touring sedan, despite the fact that it was on an old American platform with an underperforming Japanese engine. The long platform could fit six people, all of whom would have to endure the rattling faux wooden panels and gaudy velour upholstery (hardly limited to this car, we know). The driver would have to struggle with a 3.0L Mitsubishi V6 (a superior 3.3L Chrysler V6 wasn’t available until 1990) while fleet sales received an even dowdier 2.5L I4. This “luxury car” had the appearance and handling of a flying brick. While the K-Car had saved Chrysler eight years previously, it didn’t save the Dynasty—a depressing combination of mismatched engineering, advertising, and design. The Dynasty was replaced after only five years by the Dodge Intrepid.