What possible need was there for another car
like the Mustang?
This is Henry Mecredy’s second Rag Blog article about design, function, and the social good in automotive engineering. Also see Mecredy’s March 24, 2016 article, “The Edsel Tragedy.”
In the mid-Sixties a huge innovation took place in automotive history: The Ford Mustang was introduced. Technically little more than a Falcon, the Mustang with its long hood and sporty appearance found a ready market.
Assuming briefly that the human creativity and effort expended on the Mustang project had a valid and important result; that it satisfied transportation needs as well as artistic and emotional desires for the millions who bought and still buy its various iterations and configurations, what is to be made of the Camaro, the second “pony car” and essentially a Mustang clone?
The Camaro has been and continues to be a success in conventional marketing and profit terms. Evaluated from the sports-analogy standpoint it is hard to critique. But of course the sports analogy assumes that there is no real cost associated with fielding teams, or at least that the costs are borne willingly to provide for the game itself. Such, alas, is not the case with the development of a new automobile.
The entire development of the Camaro was a complete waste from a social standpoint.
Assuming that there was some kind of need for a car like the Mustang, what possible need was there for another car like the Mustang? If there was none, then every person-hour expended on designing, developing, manufacturing, and distributing the Camaro in parallel was wasted. Not to mention the physical resources like tooling steel, factory space, and the like.
Give the “Principle of Interchangeable Parts” test to the Mustang-Camaro pair: List the parts that can be interchanged between the two. For example: Wheels? Nope. Engines or any part therof? Nope. Hoods? Seats? Glass? Taillights? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. This makes something of a joke out of the principle of interchangeable parts: it’s the basis of industrial manufacturing, but it doesn’t cross corporate lines! On the other hand, try to list the things that make owning or driving a Mustang different from owning or driving a Camaro. Good luck!
So the entire development of the Camaro was a complete waste from a social standpoint even though it has given a swell return from a corporate and investor standpoint. All of the talent, training, and tooling that was required to carry out the Camaro project was wasted socially: It duplicated what was done for the Mustang project, and meanwhile the opportunities to use it for something actually new and useful were squandered.
Possibly a democratically-managed economy would not have made this kind of investment.
[Henry Mecredy is a mechanical engineer from Austin and a Son of the Republic of Texas. As a child, he was influenced by a television program called Industry On Parade.]