The VW diesel software scandal that’s unfolding is just one on many that have rocked the auto industry over the years. Here’s our Top 10 automotive scandals:
GM’s Smear Campaign Against the Chrysler Airflow
Though it sold poorly at the time, the advanced Chrysler Airflow gave a technology halo to Chrysler that GM had long coveted. The Airflow styling was based on tests that showed current cars were more aerodynamic in reverse, further the design included a unibody safety cage, safety glass, and other features advanced for the time.
Seeking to recover its position of technical leadership placed ads in the most popular magazine in the country at the time, the Saturday Evening Post, claiming that the radical Chrysler was plagiarized from a top-secret GM design (of which GM never produced any evidence) and even worse, that the Airflow was dangerous to drive..
Chrysler conducted and filmed a series of tests, one of the Airflow’s suspension (by shooting out a tire at high speed), its use of safety glass (by having a pitcher throw a fastball at it without shattering), rolling it over (and driving away), and finally, driving it off a 110-foot cliff, then driving it away with out so much as a shattered window, then distributing the film as a newsreel to motion picture theaters across the country.
In the end it didn’t matter one way or another. Chrysler had gone too far with the Airflow and public didn’t accept the car. And for its part, there were no repercussions at GM.