QOTD: Trucking Awful Nineties Design From America?

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Jeep

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We spent the last three Wednesday editions of Question of the Day discussing the awesomeness which was Nineties truck and SUV design from America, Europe, and Asia. Now we’ll flip things around, and bring a critical eye to designs which didn’t age so well.

The rules of the game are probably seared into memory by now, but we’ll state them anyway:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a domestic manufacturer, even if sourced from an import (eg. Dodge Ram 50).
  3. The only eligible body styles are trucks and SUVs.

And the display of today’s dated design brings your author no joy. No joy at all — in fact I kind of like it.

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Image via GM

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“Hey, that Blazer looks funny,” was surely someone’s first thought circa 1991. And the funny looks were down to the small details which made up the unfortunately styled Oldsmobile Bravada. The Bravada’s origins lie in the GMT330 platform, which debuted in 1982. At that time the smaller S-10 Blazer and S-15 Jimmy represented new midsize entries into the growing SUV market.

By 1991, the designs were matured, assisted by periodic visual updates to keep things fresh. And that year was an interesting one for the Blazer family and its cousins. Most importantly, the first four-door versions of the GMT330s arrived (Hey, the Explorer was coming). It was also the last year the S-10 and -15 names were used in conjunction with Blazer and Jimmy.

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GM

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Bravada was the first SUV offering from the Oldsmobile brand, and to make the considerably higher asking price seem worth it, all Bravadas were blessed with the largest 4.3-liter Vortec V6 engine and “Smart-Trak” all-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive was permanent, unlike its siblings’ 4×4 systems. Outside, painted bumpers, gold badges (usually) and a different front end treatment displayed the owner’s prestige and personal brand. The interior was also made more upscale than its siblings, and featured a unique wave-like center console surrounded by low-quality ruched leather.

But the late introduction and unique components are what made the Bravada a bad moment in styling. It looked different enough to stand out, but was clearly a rebadge trying to be more luxurious than it was. The limited run of the first generation (1991-1994) meant fewer on the roads, and they looked old by the dawn of the second generation in 1996. Bravada also broke down more, because the all-wheel drive system was less robust than 4×4. It just didn’t work out for the first Bravada.

Let’s hear your selections for those poorly aged trucks and SUVs.

[Images: Oldsmobile]

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