Can you imagine an automotive industry without BMW? Or the history of sports cars without the presence of brands like Porsche and Lamborghini? What would the pure luxury segment have become without Bentley? We have no answers to these questions, although they have come close to being answered in the past. Luckily, these brands were smart enough to understand what customers needed…and give it to them. These 4 models have saved their brands from bankruptcy and disappearance.
Bentley Continental GT
Before 2003, Bentley It was selling around 1,000 units a year. What happened next? Volkswagen bought the British brand to prevent it from disappearing and they shaped the Bentley Continental GT. This elegant coupé-like model was powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 and was a complete success: before its launch, they recorded 3,000 bookings and it was only in its first year of life that Bentley increased annual sales to nearly 7,000 units.
It has been a long time, BMW was a fairly ordinary builder who, in the late 1950s, was struggling to keep a fleet in the hands of models like the 501, 503 or 507 whose sales were minimal.
Everything changed in 1959 when, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW presented the BMW 700. This model did not have the grille that had become the house brand, it was a comfortable car from all points of view and was powered by a two-cylinder engine, which delivered a power of 30 hp at 5,000 rpm. Its maximum speed was 125 km/h and it consumed 6 litres/100 km.
A year after its introduction, BMW had put 35,000 units on the road, representing 58% of its turnover: five years later, they reached 190,000 copies and the brand breathed a sigh of relief. Without the BMW 700, the Bavarian brand would not exist today.
Before becoming part of the Volkswagen group, Lamborghini It was a company that always had problems After nine years at the helm, Ferruccio Lamborghini sold most of the business, and from 1972 six different owners attempted (unsuccessfully) to turn it into a profitable marque. Not in vain, in 1997 its sales were the lowest of the last three decades.
The arrival of the Volkswagen group did not mean an immediate change in this wandering. They first presented a new flagship model: the Lamborghini Murcielago. The Germans knew it wasn’t an access model and obviously it wasn’t going to be a great source of revenue.
This role was reserved for the Lamborghini Gallardo, a smaller, more affordable sports car with a V10 in the guts. In its first year they sold 900 units, a figure that was a record for the brand: in its ten years of production they put 14,022 units on the streets. A figure that, at the time, exceeded the sales of all the models that had preceded it.
Today, Porsche it is the most profitable brand of the Volkswagen group: in the 90s, however, it was hit and almost sunk. Many believe that the Porsche Cayenne was the savior of the Stuttgart manufacturer, but they could never have built it without the Porsche Boxster.
The brand’s access models (like the Porsche 944) didn’t bring in big sales numbers and the iconic Porsche 911 it was marketed in dribs and drabs. The situation was so serious that, in order to stay alive, Porsche has built high-performance vehicles for other brands as Audi (Audi RS2 Avant) y mercedes (Mercedes-Benz 500E).
Porsche I needed a solution and I needed it fast: it came in the form of the Porsche Boxster. They presented an affordable roadster that shared many parts with the 911 and offered everything expected of a 911 model: great performance, good handling and build quality. The Germans also improved the production line to reduce the cost of their operations. All of these improvements saved Porsche a lot of money… which was invested in the development of the successful Porsche Cayenne.