Today's car is one of those coulda shoulda woulda cars. We've only got one more 1980s car after today, but we'll be quite ready to leave the 1980s after this guy.
1988 Buick Reatta. Next to perhaps the "revised" Ford Thunderbird, it's hard to think of another car that should have done well but cratered into the ground on fire. At least in the case of the T-Bird, it wasn't the car so much as the marketing. In the case of the Reatta, it was a little of both.
Had GM done a couple things differently - started out with a convertible and made it rear wheel drive - they would have completely stolen the thunder of the Mazda Miata. Instead, they released the Reatta as a two-seater, but with front wheel drive (lackluster performance). They added the convertible option in 1990 - after the release of the Miata - looking like they were playing catchup.
It's quite similar to the Cadillac Allante, actually. The first few years, the Allante was grossly underpowered compared to the Mercedes 500 and Jaguar XJS, against which it was expected to compete. In the very last year of its existence, GM did the only smart thing they did with the entire car and dropped the fire-breathing Northstar V8 into the Allante, instantly making the 1993 model the only one worth owning.
But I digress. How bad was the Reatta? Let's put it this way: GM expected to sell 20K units a year. They would up building (which is not the same as selling) 21,000 - over its four year lifespan. A few simple changes and they would have replicated the success of the Gran National, if not even more - imagine the turbocharged V6 (thanks!) of the GN crammed into a rear-wheel drive, convertible Reatta. They might have staved off both the Miata and the BMW Z series with that...
But it's GM - Government Motors - so their ability to fail naturally doomed this from the start...
That is all.