When it comes to auto scandals like what we’ve seen with Volkswagen, this story may be just about the dirtiest of them all, because it does involve a major automotive giant still existing today, albeit the most recent financial troubles: General Motors. Back in the day, GM was king — until another energetic upstart of an automaker came out with the rather innovative Chrysler Airflow in 1934, a prototype of sheer cinematic genius way ahead of its time and foreshadowing automotive excellence for many years to come.
Of Course, GM Hated That the Chrysler Airflow Was Getting so Much Attention….
This is where the auto industry can get super-vicious. So what did General Motors do? they bought out advertisements in the Saturday Evening Post, pitching proverbial puke balls at the Chrysler Airflow with allegations of plagiarism due to a “top-secret GM design.” Think of it this way: GM was the big bully kid jealous of the smarty-pants who the girls really liked (but wouldn’t admit it).
Those were the days when auto advertising and competition were so bloodthirsty that it made mixed martial arts look like butt slapping with a wet napkin. Amazingly enough, though, Chrysler wasn’t reeling much at the stab GM made, releasing a newsreel of phenomenal prowess and innovation, showing off the Chrysler Airflow and its advanced suspension by shooting out tires at high speeds. Impressive. The newsreel even featured a pitcher throwing a fastball at a window and not even cracking the glass. Testers even rolled the darn car over and drove it away without a problem; and if that wasn’t enough, they drove the Chrysler Airflow off a 110-foot cliff, and after it landed, testers at the bottom drove the steel beast off into the horizon — all without one dent on the fender or a scratch on the windshield.
You’d Think That Impressive Newsreel Would Make a Difference in This Auto Industry
Sadly, it did not. The Chrysler Airflow was beaten (not by the cliff, obviously) due to the gossip and scare tactics of GM and their successful smear campaign. The car that would’ve made more headlines for years to come was then discontinued due to the bad press and negativity of the supposed “scandal” and was never seen again.
Case in point: you lose in the auto industry if you’re the target of gossip!