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Old 08-22-2015, 10:03 PM   #57
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I judge every new Trek against that standard.
Some make it and some come across as only Giants, mass produced through contracts to spec.
Good materials, construction and engineering, but lacking that intangible which built the company... a build philosophy from the souls of dedicated and talented builders.
Two things:

1. The more precisely defined success is for a design - that is, the tighter the target specifications, the less 'philosophy' or 'soul' is going to be apparent, or matter, in the creation of the designed item. Philosophy in engineering is ultimately a matter of taste. If somebody gets to put some real 'soul' into a design, it indicates that there were places that parameters weren't specified where they could exercise creativity.

I haven't run across a car or truck built by a major manufacturer that really had a 'personality' in decades. The wind tunnel, CAFE, IIHS crash tests, focus groups, NVH specs, parts bin engineering, and benchmarking ensure that just about every component of a motor vehicle is tightly defined before the first CAD drawing is done. The stakes are just too high - typically billions of dollars - for it to be any other way.

Even when the engineers make an effort to give the car a 'personality,' they engineer the personality in (example: tuning mufflers to have a particular resonance so that the car sounds like a particular car of decades ago rather than just going for a shape and baffling that optimizes space and materials use). Another name for 'apparent philosophy' in an engineered object is 'quirk:' A William Lyons design Jaguar has different quirks than a Ferry Porsche design Porsche does.

I think the sanitary nature of modern motor vehicle design is one thing that has maintained the antique car market despite the aging out of most car buffs. People who actually try to understand the engineering behind vehicles realize that designed-in focus-group-approved personality isn't the same thing as design aesthetics at all.

2. As for the wonderfulness of Swedish engineering, I'd point out that Volvo was bought by Ford more than a decade ago and was sold to a Chinese holding company some time after that. You can presume that the traditions and rules of Volvo engineering from decades ago still apply if you like, but I suspect that the same minimization of risk and maximization of ROI requirements are driving design decisions for Volvos that are driving the same decisions for Toyotas, Fords, or any other first-tier manufacturer.
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:35 PM   #58
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As for the wonderfulness of Swedish engineering, I'd point out that Volvo was bought by Ford more than a decade ago and was sold to a Chinese holding company some time after that. You can presume that the traditions and rules of Volvo engineering from decades ago still apply if you like, but I suspect that the same minimization of risk and maximization of ROI requirements are driving design decisions for Volvos that are driving the same decisions for Toyotas, Fords, or any other first-tier manufacturer.
My understanding is that while the company itself was purchased by Ford, Ford did not begin applying its standards or engineering to the Volvo. Instead, Ford began using Volvo engineering and resources in its own products, and in Land Rover and Aston Martin platforms. The Chinese acquisition came about, in part, because Volvo corporate was worried that Ford would go bankrupt. I have not heard that Geely Automobile of China has changed the Swedish engineering practices.

"...in recent years Volvo cars have still managed to maintain their high class safety ratings as seen in test results. The Volvo XC90, S80, C70, XC60, S60 and C30 are all rated Top Safety Picks in these crash tests. The 2014 models of the XC60, XC90, S60 and S80 have even received the Top Safety Pick+ rating.

Volvo has also scored high in EuroNCAP tests. Since 2009, all the Volvo models that EuroNCAP have tested have received five-star safety ratings: Volvo C30, V40, V60, V60 plug-in hybrid, XC60 and V70. The new Volvo V40 (model year 2013-) got the best test result of any car model ever tested in EuroNCAP."
I haven't dug into Ford safety records, but apart from the ZF transmission glitch (which was resolved to our satisfaction), I'm still behind my Volvo.
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:37 PM   #59
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Two things:

1. The more precisely defined success is for a design - that is, the tighter the target specifications, the less 'philosophy' or 'soul' is going to be apparent, or matter, in the creation of the designed item. Philosophy in engineering is ultimately a matter of taste. If somebody gets to put some real 'soul' into a design, it indicates that there were places that parameters weren't specified where they could exercise creativity.

I haven't run across a car or truck built by a major manufacturer that really had a 'personality' in decades. The wind tunnel, CAFE, IIHS crash tests, focus groups, NVH specs, parts bin engineering, and benchmarking ensure that just about every component of a motor vehicle is tightly defined before the first CAD drawing is done. The stakes are just too high - typically billions of dollars - for it to be any other way.

Even when the engineers make an effort to give the car a 'personality,' they engineer the personality in (example: tuning mufflers to have a particular resonance so that the car sounds like a particular car of decades ago rather than just going for a shape and baffling that optimizes space and materials use). Another name for 'apparent philosophy' in an engineered object is 'quirk:' A William Lyons design Jaguar has different quirks than a Ferry Porsche design Porsche does.

I think the sanitary nature of modern motor vehicle design is one thing that has maintained the antique car market despite the aging out of most car buffs. People who actually try to understand the engineering behind vehicles realize that designed-in focus-group-approved personality isn't the same thing as design aesthetics at all.

2. As for the wonderfulness of Swedish engineering, I'd point out that Volvo was bought by Ford more than a decade ago and was sold to a Chinese holding company some time after that. You can presume that the traditions and rules of Volvo engineering from decades ago still apply if you like, but I suspect that the same minimization of risk and maximization of ROI requirements are driving design decisions for Volvos that are driving the same decisions for Toyotas, Fords, or any other first-tier manufacturer.
Still...(at the risk of sounding pretentious) I prefer Hank, to Ferry, Crapo, or Kiichi !
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Old 08-23-2015, 07:25 AM   #60
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We've owned three cars that worked extremely well without a single problem. Our first was a VW Beetle , a 1969 that could practically climb a tree. We had bought a house on a steep hill about a mile long. The first day it snowed and the Mustang could not make it up the hill, we went out an bought the VW the next day.

We kept the 65' Mustang, it was a solid vehicle, simple, no synchromesh on first. A subsequent Ford LTD was also solid, a Ford Torino needed a transmission cube, every wheel bearing failed, the muffler feel off, the power steering failed in a curving on ramp (a hose just came off)...just the worst car ever and we never bought another Ford.

We owned an Acura Legend, standard transmission, 250,000 miles, never a problem, very powerful, efficient vehicle.

Since then we've bought all Hondas. All made very high mileage and to this point we've never had a driveline failure or repair of any kind on a Honda. Until out Odyssey we've always had manual transmissions. We gave our 1997 Civic to my niece and they had to replace the clutch at 350,000 miles.

I want vehicles that are reliable, I'm no mechanic and am more often than not on long relatively deserted roads. I've come to respect Ford again because they stayed out of the governments bailout loop but have not conjured up the confidence to buy one. We're a single vehicle family and reliability is primary.
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Old 08-23-2015, 11:35 AM   #61
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I'm not beating on the idea of having vehicle preferences. I have them myself - I tend to prefer Ford's platform (chassis) engineering to GMs, and very much prefer their control system methodology. GM also has had a history over the last 30 years or so of being a little too bottom-line driven in supplier negotiations, and that has mean that they've had more than their share of components that died too young ('97 Corvette fuel pumps come to mind). Ford did this too, but not as often or as egregiously.

One thing that has made Toyotas so bulletproof over the decades, I think is the Japanese keiretsu system. There's no such thing as aggressive supplier negotiations in this system, and that tends to prevent this sort of problem.

That said, weak design criteria can doom you even if parts are made exactly to spec: the '89 Acura Legend we had was a great car (my wife still misses it) until all the electronics started dying at about 15 years and 200K. There was nothing wrong with the EE work, but the solder joints had thermal fatigue issues. Reflowing them solved the problem, but the many little modules were frequently buried deep inside the car and were a pain to get at. See also Honda fuel injection relays (the Acura had the same part as the Civic).

After experiences fixing student/girlfriend cars in my school days I have forever sworn off of Mitsubishis and Nissans. I know that writing Nissan, in particular, off the list takes a lot of otherwise desirable vehicles off the plate.

My point is not to claim that all vehicles are the same - they aren't, of course. But it's important not to mythologize buying a complex engineered machine designed to a multitude of detailed specifications. Look past the advertising and mythology and see what is really there. A combination of economic and engineering decisions lead to what you see. If you understand the motivators, you will undertand the product.
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Old 08-23-2015, 12:02 PM   #62
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ford's "motivator"

honestly, the only "motivator" I can think of for Ford to build Transports in Turkey or in eastern Europe is to do it as cheaply as possible, and further erode the UAW.
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Old 08-23-2015, 12:27 PM   #63
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The real motivator is the fact that Transit connect has been built in European countries for more than 10 years already. It is not a brand new model, it is 10+ years old European model manufactured since 2003. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Transit_Connect
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Old 08-23-2015, 01:52 PM   #64
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Steely pip made a comment about the lack of personality in the current offerings by the automakers....nothing could be further from reality...look around and you will see some some cute...some sexy...and some macho designs out there.

I drive a FJ Landcruiser that is 100% unique...designed with off road use as first priority for the select few...sadly the market for this "real-off-road" vehicle was limited as was the production. The original FJ40 Landcruiser built in the 1960s has become a collectors Classic in off road fun! The Jeep products just don't hold up...poor quality and problem prone systems put them on par with the Range Rover. Range Rovers end up selling for under $5,000 when only a few years old. They break down almost daily.
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Old 08-23-2015, 02:03 PM   #65
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Norm...your VW Bug (1969) was built in Germany....you would no be a Happy Camper with the current production of the VW Bug...most are produced in Mexico and word is they are not a shadow of the Bugs produced in the 1960s under German standards.....even the Germans are focused on high profit margins over quality and reliability.

I used to love the print ads VW used in the 1960s...."America's Slowest Fastback". I had one in 1970 with a rag top...fun little "death-trap".... Not even seat belts in the one I had! Cheap to buy...cheap to keep...ran all day on a cup of gasoline ( which was about 19 cents a gal. back then).
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Old 08-23-2015, 03:43 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by steelypip View Post
I'm not beating on the idea of having vehicle preferences. I have them myself - I tend to prefer Ford's platform (chassis) engineering to GMs, and very much prefer their control system methodology. GM also has had a history over the last 30 years or so of being a little too bottom-line driven in supplier negotiations, and that has mean that they've had more than their share of components that died too young ('97 Corvette fuel pumps come to mind). Ford did this too, but not as often or as egregiously.

One thing that has made Toyotas so bulletproof over the decades, I think is the Japanese keiretsu system. There's no such thing as aggressive supplier negotiations in this system, and that tends to prevent this sort of problem.

That said, weak design criteria can doom you even if parts are made exactly to spec: the '89 Acura Legend we had was a great car (my wife still misses it) until all the electronics started dying at about 15 years and 200K. There was nothing wrong with the EE work, but the solder joints had thermal fatigue issues. Reflowing them solved the problem, but the many little modules were frequently buried deep inside the car and were a pain to get at. See also Honda fuel injection relays (the Acura had the same part as the Civic).

After experiences fixing student/girlfriend cars in my school days I have forever sworn off of Mitsubishis and Nissans. I know that writing Nissan, in particular, off the list takes a lot of otherwise desirable vehicles off the plate.

My point is not to claim that all vehicles are the same - they aren't, of course. But it's important not to mythologize buying a complex engineered machine designed to a multitude of detailed specifications. Look past the advertising and mythology and see what is really there. A combination of economic and engineering decisions lead to what you see. If you understand the motivators, you will undertand the product.
I never thought much of Toyota as bullet proof ....But then we have never allowed firearms in the shop area.
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Old 08-24-2015, 12:09 AM   #67
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I used to love the print ads VW used in the 1960s...."America's Slowest Fastback".
My favorite one was "The Volkswagon Beetle can definitely float. But it can't float indefinitely."

I once said to the DH before we were married, "LP can definitely be patient. But she won't be patient indefinitely."

He got the message. Happiness ensued.
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Old 08-24-2015, 02:41 AM   #68
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Steely pip made a comment about the lack of personality in the current offerings by the automakers....nothing could be further from reality...look around and you will see some some cute...some sexy...and some macho designs out there.
Sorry, I can't agree with the new cars having any personality, for the most part they all look like a potato. Very few have any standout body designs that set them apart, from MB on down. I've pulled up behind what I thought was a Beemer only to see it was a Honda, the tail lights were almost the same. In the 50's/60's just a pic of a head/tail light, a roofline, vent wing or part of a grill ect would tell you the year and model at a glance. Can anyone here not say they don't recognize a '55/56/57 Chevy taillight as an example? Sexy to me, '56 Crown Vic or any Chevy Nomads. Macho, '67-69 Barracudas. OK, off my soap box.
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Old 08-24-2015, 11:35 AM   #69
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Sorry, I can't agree with the new cars having any personality, for the most part they all look like a potato. Very few have any standout body designs that set them apart, from MB on down. I've pulled up behind what I thought was a Beemer only to see it was a Honda, the tail lights were almost the same. In the 50's/60's just a pic of a head/tail light, a roofline, vent wing or part of a grill ect would tell you the year and model at a glance. Can anyone here not say they don't recognize a '55/56/57 Chevy taillight as an example? Sexy to me, '56 Crown Vic or any Chevy Nomads. Macho, '67-69 Barracudas. OK, off my soap box.
Cars today are mostly just smart phones with wheels! You would think that would mean more personality with more apps.
Here are a couple of examples...



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Old 08-24-2015, 03:02 PM   #70
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Don't for get these guys

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