The car that Sterling Cooper Pryce Draper has a chance to work on is the XP-887, otherwise known as the Chevrolet Vega and the Pontiac Astre.
In 1968, GM chairman James Roche announced GM would produce the new car in the U.S. in two years. Ed Cole was chief engineer and Bill Mitchell, vice-president of design staff, was chief stylist. Cole wanted a world-beater in showrooms in 24 months.
Mitchell formed a GM design team headed by James G. Musser, Jr. who had helped develop the Chevy II, the Camaro, the Chevrolet small-block V8 engines, and the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. Musser said, “This was the first vehicle where one person was in charge,” and his team “did the entire vehicle.”
At the time, the XP-887 was revolutionary. It set GM on a different development path, and put the chief engineer in charge of the entire program. Everything from the OHC alloy block to the electrophoretic paint process to the train cars it would be shipped on was new.
It’s going to be interesting to see where this leads the agency. The XP-887 was awaited breathlessly, and it was a standout sales success in the early stages. It wasn’t until 1972 that it all went wrong.