7 Cars That Would Be So Much Better Built on a Different Chassis

A change to the Car Chassis would of been great

Updated May 20, 2018

Some good car designs have been let down by a poor choice of hardware. We pick 7 of the worst and propose a chassis that would have made for a better car with a different chassis. Click Next to view the entire list.


2002 – 2005 Ford Thunderbird

In the midst of the retrocar craze, Ford brass determined it should have its own blast from the past so they set designer J. Mays to work on a new Thunderbird (yes, the same J. Mays who designed the New Beetle, which explains why his Thunderbird looks like a low, wide New Beetle). It was built on the Lincoln LS (DEW98) platform, but lost most of its structural integrity, requiring lots of (heavy) bracing to compensate. The result was an overweight, under-powered car that no one purchased after the first year. Instead, Ford would have been better off basing the retro T-Bird on the SN-95 Mustang platform, which had already been developed around a convertible model.


2004 – 2006 Chevrolet SSR

Chevy’s attempt at a retro-rod truck was pretty much a failure for the same reasons as the Thunderbird, plus it was built on the Chevy Trailblazer’s GMT 360 platform, a very traditional ladder frame with IRS and a solid rear axle. Instead, the Corvette C4 platform that became the utterly useless Cadillac XLR should have been used under the SSR, which was also introduced in 2004. Imagine a retro truck with a Corvette driveline. That would have turned some heads.


Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2008 –

Here’s a car that was brought to market to take on the likes of the Infiniti G (now Q) Coupe but can’t even take on a V6 Mustang. In fact a few years ago a car magazine tested a Genesis Coupe on track and it was slower than a Chevy Cobalt SS. Besides being overweight, the car has some quirky handling issues that have turned some drivers off. Hyundai recently launched Genesis as a stand-alone global luxury brand, but they need to partner with another company with more experience in the category before they go much further.


1991 – 1994 Ford Explorer

Ford had a real problem with their tall, narrow, short wheelbase Bronco II tipping over in turns. They directed their engineers to develop a new SUV, and by the way, you have to use the Bronco II chassis. Thus starts the story of the Ford Explorer. For the three door, the wheelbase was stretched by 8″ from the 94″of the Bronco II, the five door pulled further to 112″. However it didn’t sure the problem and Ford was too far along the development process to turn back. Instead they specified ridiculously low tire pressures to cure their roll-over problem with the suggestions made by their engineers (larger tires, lower the engine, etc.). It turned into a catastrophe, Ford blaming Firestone and vice versa, which all could have been avoided if someone at Ford had said “stop – let’s fix this the right way.”


1989 – 1995 Lotus Elan M-100

This is the Lotus that Lotus fans would like everyone to forget. At the time GM owned Lotus and thought that a smaller sports car would fit well into its product line. The design was typical Lotus: aluminum backbone frame and fiberglass body. The engine and transmission came from GM-owned Isuzu. What’s odd was that the decision was made to install the engine in the front and drive the front wheels. Buyers looked at the Lotus, then the RWD Miata and the mid-engine MR, but at a fraction of the price, and gave the Lotus a pass (Lotus has since never built another FWD car). Had the Isuzu powertrain been installed mid-engine (MR2 style) the outcome could have been very different.


2012 –  Scion FR-S –  Subaru BRZ

When Toyota enthusiasts first got wind that Toyota was considering developing a new version of the beloved AE86 Corolla, they all rejoiced. Nicknamed the Hachi-Roku in Japan and elsewhere, the car had achieved cult status. But what Toyota brought to market wasn’t a successor to the AE86 but a warmed-over Subaru coupe, with its gutless, buzzy engine. Instead, Toyota should have pursued the FT-HS concept, even without the hybrid capabilities, use a powerful V6 engine and including true two plus two seating in a package that was within an inch of the FR-S/BRZ in virtually every dimension.


2005 – 2009 Saab 9-7X

In yet another case of GM not understanding the market for their brands. They badge-engineered a mid-sized SUV for based on the unsophisticated GMT 360 platform from the Chevy Trailblazer and Oldsmobile Bravada and called it the Saab 9-7X. It was the first Saab ever manufactured outside of Sweden. Instead of the attempting to take on the premium SUVs with a rough-riding truck chassis, GM should have turned to its own, far superior,  Theta platform, now used for the Equinox, which is just 0.5″ shorter than the GMT 360.



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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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