“There’s a lot more competition today.
When I was growing up…you either bought GM, Ford, AMC, or Chryco”.
“And there was great loyalty between brands even though the only difference between a Ford and a Mercury was usually superficial. Likewise Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler and Chevrolet, Pontiac, Olds, Buick, Cadillac”.
@MikeInNH and @Rod Knox
From the 1930s through the mid 1960s there was a considerable difference between the Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac brands from General Motors and even a difference between the Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks.
1949 is a good place to start. Chevrolet had a splash lubricated overhead valve engine, Pontiac offered a side valve inline 6 and a side valve inline 8. Oldsmobile had a side valve inline 6 and an overhead valve V-8. Buick had a inline overhead valve 8. Cadillac just introduced an overhead valve V-8 which replaced a flathead V-8 that was the engine used through 1948. All of these engines were different. I had a 1947 Pontiac with the 6 cylinder engine. I found that the engine block was cracked. A wrecking yard had a good 6 cylinder 1948 Oldsmobile engine. The displacement was about the same, but the engines would not interchange and I wound up “fixing” my Pontiac engine with K & W seal.
The suspensions and drivetrains were different in 1949. Chevrolet had rear leaf springs and an enclosed driveshaft. Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac used an open driveshaft. The Pontiac and Cadillac had leaf springs in back but the Oldsmobile had coil springs. The Buick had an enclosed driveshaft and had coil springs in the back. The automatic transmission offered by Buick depended completely on a torque converter–there was not shift when one started in “Drive”. The Hydramatic automatic transmission available in the Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac had a fluid coupling that did not multiply the torque and had four forward speeds in the drive range. As each division developed an overhead valve V-8, these engines were all different. The Buick V-8 which became available in 1953 was completely different than the Oldsmobile V-8 engine and both these V-8 engines were different than the Cadillac V-8. In 1955, Chevrolet and Pontiac each brought out a new V-8 engine and these engines were completely different. The 1955 Chevrolet pickup with the V-8 had a Chevrolet engine, but the GMC pickup V-8 came with the Pontiac V-8 engine. In the early 1960s, the 6 cylinder Chevrolet pickup had an inline engine while the 6 cylinder GMC pickup had a V-6 engine.
The point is that car offered by each division of General Motors was different and certainly drove differently. My family tested a new 1959 Buick and a new 1959 Oldsmobile. I drove both cars and they drove completely differently. In 1961, the Corvair, the Pontiac Tempest, the Oldsmobile F-85 and the Buick Special compacts were different from each other even though they used the same chassis. The Corvair was a rear engine car, the Pontiac Tempest had the engine in the front, but the transmission was combined with the rear axle and used a 4 cylinder engine. The Oldsmobile F-85 and Buick were more conventional and had an aluminum V-8, but Buick also offered a cast iron V-6.
My point is that there was competition between the divisions and the differences were more than superficial. IMHO, the competition among the divisions of GM and the competition made for a better product. When GM got in trouble for sneaking a Chevrolet V-8 into some of the Oldsmobiles in 1977 was the beginning of the lack of competition among the divisions ultimately resulting in a decline in quality and the dropping of the Pontiac and Oldsmobile divisions.
I could point out the differences in the Chrysler nameplates in this time period. Let me just say that my Dad owned a 1947 Dodge and a 1947 Desoto and there was quite a difference in these cars. We old geezers remember when the nameplate really made a difference.