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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was looking back through some old files and found an article from 2 years ago about the GM-80 program at GM, which was supposed to be a FWD F-body. I figured since it was not posted in the forums, and there was currently no link to it elsewhere, I would repost it below- Hope you all enjoy!
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06/03/02-Branden Farthing

GMInsidenews gets the inside scoop on the proposed 1980's FWD F-body!

GMI Would like to thank Guy McCoy and Ted Krygier for their large contributions to this article!




Well it is very scary to think that we almost had a FWD Camaro, but the story behind why and how is a very interesting one.. In the mid 1980's with FWD Sports Coupes swaying traditional F-body buyers GM was presented with an interesting dilemma for, whether to remain true to the heritage of RWD F-body or make what they thought the market demanded at the time. It was this situation that led to the billion dollar GM80 program.

The GM80 started in a time when F-body development was much more brisk than it is today. The cars were major sellers and considered integral to the brand portfolio, thus GM took great pride in them. The third generation chassis it was decided would have a freshening in 1986, it's 4th year on that platform. It was here that GM chairman Roger Smith decided that he didn't like the direction that F-body was going and decided changes needed to be made in order for the car to be in a viable business situation down the road. It was here that it was decided since most of GM's cars would be FWD by the end of the 1980's and FWD sport coupes were becoming the craze it was time to develop a FWD F-body for debut in 1989.

This was all that radical an idea as it is today since Ford had seriously toying with the idea of replacing the Mustang with the car that eventually became the Probe. Also in another lesser known project Ford even considered moving their big coupes, the Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar, to the new in 1986 Taurus platform. That changed once they decided to sink $1 billion into making a world class RWD chassis to replace the Fox platform, which became the MN-12. The MN-12 was envisioned to not only include the T-bird and Cougar, but also various Lincolns, the Mustang, and was even engineered to Australian standards for possible export! It was this over engineering that destroyed the program, making it too heavy to replace the Mustang and too costly to export overseas. The MN-12 platform thus never achieved it's multi-carline intentions and was largely a financial mistake for Ford..

By 1986 work was going full tilt on the GM80 program which the FWD F-body came to designated. The car would have been the best performing FWD car in it's price class and would bring a level of engineering to the F-body never before seen. Lighter than the current car everything about the car would have been high tech from plastic body panels to high-tech powertrain choices. The base engine was set to be a 180-200 HP 16 valve Quad 4 which at the time was still in development. The top of the line engine was set to be the 24 valve 3.4L DOHC V6 that GM had developed from the 2.8L engine block. At the time it was making 285HP+ in development and if a transmission could be made to handle it GM fully intended to go into production around that figure. What is interesting is how similar those figures are to the initial 4th generation offering in 1993. One can't help but wonder if the FWD F-body might have been faster than the RWD one we craved. The 3.4L also is significant because though it was the basis for the Cadillac Northstar and 3.5L "Shortstar", development costs were staggering making it GM's most expensive V6 ever. All these advances cost money but the projected $22,000 dollar cost for the time of introduction in 1989 isn't so bad when compared to the $24,000+ that the 1989 20th Anniversary Trans Am sold for.



As the program neared completion costs started to mount, making it a $1 billion plus program, a very large sum for the day. What finally killed the program was GM buying Hughes Aircraft and Roger Smith's obsession with starting the Saturn brand. The Saturn project which was particularly expensive, cost GM over $5 billion in development costs. Thankfully GM couldn't support all these projects and the GM80 program was cancelled in 1987 leaving the F-body to die. That was until some enthusiasts in GM decided that the car needed to go on pushed the idea of evolving the third generation chassis into the forth generation making the car we have today. It is scary to think that GM almost butchered the heritage of the F-body by going to FWD, but it is just a reminded that cars are business and GM is there to make money selling what the market wants.

The above images are from an 80's vintage magazine...I am unsure which though
 

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Yah I remember that allmost (TRAVISTY!) I say THANK GOD FOR SATURN for at least saveing the Camaro/Firebird from that fate at least for a wile. I never thought I would say "thank god for Saturn" being that it cost GM so mutch to do but at least it killed this FWD F body. <_<
 

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yep, i remember all of the articles i read back then, about the Probe being the "Mustang of the future". however, what this article doesn't mention is that the F-Body was almost replaced by another FWD car. i remember it vividly.... the Beretta was touted as a Camaro replacement when it first came out. remember it well from Hot Rod magazine. THAT would have been a disaster. there are some great FWD sports cars out there (i own one), but they would have been stupid to replace the pony cars with FWD. it's just not the same thing as a rear drive, hang the tail out around a corner pony car. cool article!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Originally posted by Bladon@Jul 7 2004, 09:08 PM
Are you sure those aren't pictures of a Buick Reatta prototype?                           

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt...DUTF-8%26sa%3DN
The article they came from was a something like Motor Trend...It states this is the GM 80 :blink:

Also the Reatta looks to have different door handles and window glass...
 

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The GM 80 cars would have been built on spaceframes and rumor has it they would have been made in the Fiero plant.
 

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The GM80 program is just another example of the incompetent leadership of Roger Smith GM in the 1980's and early 1990's.

GM wasted so much money on stupid ideas like the GM80, Huge, Saturn, EV1, the CPC/BOC reorg, and EDS that it's pathetic.

Roger Smith, who was a finance guy and knew virtually nothing about cars, did nothing during his tenure other than cause confusion, lose marketshare, pursue non-car businesses, and starve product development.

Rick Waggoner is doing a lot of good things. But, he's in such a hard position based on the mistakes in the 1980's and 1990's that's its frightening.

Mark
 

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I'm surprised at how little knowledge the author of the article has about Ford's plans for the Thunderbird, et al. At no time was there ever serious consideration to move the Thunderbird to a front drive platform since times were tough at Ford during that time. The Taurus, if you'll recall, was the make or break vehicle for Ford in the 1980's and was the premiere project that was getting the funding. The 1980's Thunderbird and Cougar were designed from the inception to be on the Fox platform which was still the platform of choice for a huge number of Ford products at that time. The Granada switched to that platform which then evolved into the smaller LTD (not to be confused with the rear drive, body on frame LTD that was the Crown Victoria). The mustang in 1979 was built off the Fox platform as was the Capri. Even the Seville-lookalike Continental was switched over to a modified Fox platform. There simply was no money to consider switching the Thunderbird to front drive nor was there a motive to do so.

The MN-12 platform was envisioned as the fox replacement and the replacement for all rear drive platforms though it was never pursued as extensively as the author noted. Ultimately the MN-12 became the 1989 Thunderbird and featured the independent rear suspension. It was a sweet platform as one of my family members still has one and it is both roomy and quite a performer. It featured the SC Thunderbird (Supercharged). The chassis was quite heavy and was dismissed from being considered for other applications because of the weight of the chassis and expense. One should not confuse investigating the feasibility of converting a chassis to x, y, and z cars as "an extensive program/world platform". It was never pursued in the same vein as true world cars like the Escort, Mondeo/Contour, or Focus.

I'm not sure where the author pulls out of his butt the notion of switching t-birds et al to the Taurus platform since the rear wheel drive T-Birds and Cougars redesigned in 1983 were hughly successful and were the products that Ford raced. No executive at Ford would have jeopardized the NASCAR qualifications of the T-Bird by switching it to a platform significantly under the then 108 inch wheelbase requirements (later amended as cars were made smaller overall). Overall, Ford was not in love with front wheel drive like General Motors was so there was never an extensive pursuit to switch products over (also funding was still too tight).

The Probe-Mustang battle was an interesting one since Ford and Mazda were getting more involved (economies of scale and Ford's recent increased investment in Mazda). It is true that there were supporters of a so-called front drive Mustang but unlike GM, Ford listened to the rabid outcry of Mustang owners and decided to continue both projects. Factor in the significantly increasing Mustang sales after the reintroduction of the "Mustang GT" in 1982 and there was less likelihood that inertia would be overcome by a finger in the wind hope for front wheel drive Mustangs.
 

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Wow I wonder if having a FWD Camaro outperform the RWD Mustang would have pushed Ford's hand and brought the Probe to market as the new Mustang? The Camaro and Mustang fans would've crucified the man responsible.

One question tho. If Chevy had a 16-valve 200 HP four banger in the 80's, why don't normally aspired Ecotecs make more power? Is it because there are fewer valves or was the 200 HP a OHV?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 7 2004, 10:49 PM
I'm surprised at how little knowledge the author of the article has about Ford's plans for the Thunderbird, et al. At no time was there ever serious consideration to move the Thunderbird to a front drive platform since times were tough at Ford during that time. The Taurus, if you'll recall, was the make or break vehicle for Ford in the 1980's and was the premiere project that was getting the funding. The 1980's Thunderbird and Cougar were designed from the inception to be on the Fox platform which was still the platform of choice for a huge number of Ford products at that time. The Granada switched to that platform which then evolved into the smaller LTD (not to be confused with the rear drive, body on frame LTD that was the Crown Victoria). The mustang in 1979 was built off the Fox platform as was the Capri. Even the Seville-lookalike Continental was switched over to a modified Fox platform. There simply was no money to consider switching the Thunderbird to front drive nor was there a motive to do so.

The MN-12 platform was envisioned as the fox replacement and the replacement for all rear drive platforms though it was never pursued as extensively as the author noted. Ultimately the MN-12 became the 1989 Thunderbird and featured the independent rear suspension. It was a sweet platform as one of my family members still has one and it is both roomy and quite a performer. It featured the SC Thunderbird (Supercharged). The chassis was quite heavy and was dismissed from being considered for other applications because of the weight of the chassis and expense. One should not confuse investigating the feasibility of converting a chassis to x, y, and z cars as "an extensive program/world platform". It was never pursued in the same vein as true world cars like the Escort, Mondeo/Contour, or Focus.

I'm not sure where the author pulls out of his butt the notion of switching t-birds et al to the Taurus platform since the rear wheel drive T-Birds and Cougars redesigned in 1983 were hughly successful and were the products that Ford raced. No executive at Ford would have jeopardized the NASCAR qualifications of the T-Bird by switching it to a platform significantly under the then 108 inch wheelbase requirements (later amended as cars were made smaller overall). Overall, Ford was not in love with front wheel drive like General Motors was so there was never an extensive pursuit to switch products over (also funding was still too tight).

The Probe-Mustang battle was an interesting one since Ford and Mazda were getting more involved (economies of scale and Ford's recent increased investment in Mazda). It is true that there were supporters of a so-called front drive Mustang but unlike GM, Ford listened to the rabid outcry of Mustang owners and decided to continue both projects. Factor in the significantly increasing Mustang sales after the reintroduction of the "Mustang GT" in 1982 and there was less likelihood that inertia would be overcome by a finger in the wind hope for front wheel drive Mustangs.
They considered a Taurus based T-bird around the same time they looked at the Probe based Stang. THe MN-12 was a dead platform almost before it was released...matter of fact people were fired over it as soon as it was released. It seemed like a good idea at Ford...but as development progressed on it, they realized that it was heavy and would be a failure. The MN-12 was a billion dollar program...alot for back in the day.

The T-bird/Taurus idea is obscure now, but true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Originally posted by ibechip@Jul 7 2004, 10:54 PM
Wow I wonder if having a FWD Camaro outperform the RWD Mustang would have pushed Ford's hand and brought the Probe to market as the new Mustang? The Camaro and Mustang fans would've crucified the man responsible.

One question tho. If Chevy had a 16-valve 200 HP four banger in the 80's, why don't normally aspired Ecotecs make more power? Is it because there are fewer valves or was the 200 HP a OHV?
The 200 HP 4 was the early Quad 4. It made 200 HP, but was was big for a 4 cylinder, and as smooth as a dumptruck engine. Also *though I am unsure*, I am willing to bet they didn't have a 4 banger tranny that could take the abuse. The Quad 4 later got balance shafts to fix the problem best as they could.
 

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Originally posted by Branden@Jul 7 2004, 05:52 PM
... The base engine was set to be a 180-200 HP 16 valve Quad 4
what a sweet engine

Uuggh, Roger Smith sucks big time
 

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Roger Smith does suck, I remember doing a final researcg paper for high school and my subject was on the history of GM. Because of his desicions, GM is still stained with notion that anything from GM is terrible. Thats how ignorant people think of when they compare American and Japanese cars. I can't wait until GM proves them all wrong.

A FWD Camaro? Thats kinda hard to wrap around my head. Smith would have killed the reputation of the Camaro as a bitchin mucle car forever. But to think that they were that close to doing it, so I guess Saturn is good.

Oh ya, can someone answer me this question? In this book i read ( I think its called "The Fall, The Rise and Recovery of GM") Smith was planning to bring out the "S- Cars" in the early eighties (I'm guessing S would have stood for Saturn) but financially they couldn't do it at that time. I think they were planning to use the S-10 (S-Series trucks) for this new car company at the time of there introduction. Is this true, or did I just read it wrong?
 

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Originally posted by Branden+Jul 8 2004, 04:09 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Branden @ Jul 8 2004, 04:09 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-ibechip@Jul 7 2004, 10:54 PM
Wow I wonder if having a FWD Camaro outperform the RWD Mustang would have pushed Ford's hand and brought the Probe to market as the new Mustang?  The Camaro and Mustang fans would've crucified the man responsible.

One question tho.  If Chevy had a 16-valve 200 HP four banger in the 80's, why don't normally aspired Ecotecs make more power?  Is it because there are fewer valves or was the 200 HP a OHV?
The 200 HP 4 was the early Quad 4. It made 200 HP, but was was big for a 4 cylinder, and as smooth as a dumptruck engine. Also *though I am unsure*, I am willing to bet they didn't have a 4 banger tranny that could take the abuse. The Quad 4 later got balance shafts to fix the problem best as they could. [/b][/quote]
The High Output Quad 4 was rated @ 190hp with a 7k(?) RPM redline. Now add balance shafts which turn @ twice the rate of the crankshaft. 14,000 RPM?
Instant destruction.... That is why the HO engine was dropped. The Quad 4 was detuned back to 150HP and the redline lowered.

gtjeff commented on the Fiero Spaceframe construction for the GM80. That is correct. I remember reading that info in Pop-Sci or Motor Trend back then.

Thanks for the info Branden!!!!!


Ken
 

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Wasn,t there a FWD m,ustang once?, with a supercharged 4banger....*shrug* either way, it handled horribly and was cancelled after the first year if I remember correctly....then they called it a probe. Anyway, I'm horribly happy that the FWD sportscar craze has died down somewhat, even "tuner" mags are criticizing the people who pose and pretend that they know what they're doing. grrrrr...anyway. FWD camaro sucks, but maybe it would have been better than no camaro at all???
 
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I can understand their thinking, considering what was happening at the time with FWD. Thank God for cool heads.

yea, and the latest FWD Mercury Cougar almost became the Mustang.

On a side note, I happened to check out the Dodge Magnum last night. Damn! Dodge got it right. Finally a vehicle I can get stoked about! Mmm, good. V-8 power and RWD! ....... "Sweet!"

<_<
 
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