I agree with much of your post but that above is exaggerated. Chrysler invented the minivan, there were no similar vehicles before they built it. Also, Chrysler is responsible to a large degree for reviving the convertible.
well there were similar vehicles before the Chrysler minivan and during its development there were plenty of other minvan concept-cars. Very few companies were interested to put something similar into production.
The Chrysler minivan's development had started already in the early 70s, quickly begot a sister project in Europe (at the UK design office), which through some strange deals became the Renault Espace.
At that point other large European manufacturers had scoffed the idea; thought there would be no market, initial sales of both the Chrysler and Renault minivans proved the critics right (btw no coincidence that both companies were effectively STATE-owned)
After the slow start it became successful in creating a new (niche) market. Same for the Renault Espace in Europe (albeit lagging ~4yrs)
But you have to be careful, both cars did very little for their respective companies' bottom line. For the Espace it was simply a state sponsored attempt to keep the Matra factory open. These were completely new vehicles, with large development and marketing costs and slow acceptance.
When competitors started to arrive, they shared engineering with true vans - commercial vehicles - benefitting both types.
From 1976 to 1982, no American manufacturer produced a drop-top, and Chrysler brought it back into fashion.
(at least in the US, that's how it went. Don't know about European autos in the 80s.)
Again, probably a gutsy marketing call to do that, but questionable from a profitability point of view. You're probably referring to the '83 LeBaron?
In Europe a number of compact and subcompact cars were available with some kind of drop top (not allways full convertibles) There were also sporty roadsters; light ones like the Alfa Spyder and heavy ones like the Mercedes SL. In the market even the light roadsters would already be sitting above a typical family sedan, such as the Chrysler LeBaron.
Indeed no European mid-size sedan was available as a convertible (Saab 900cabrio came in '86, Audi Cabrio '91!)
The reason for this isn't straightforward, but the Italians were traditionally quite weak in this segment, preferring roadsters. In France the last example of a mid-size convertible was the Peugeot 504 (69-74) and they would switch to compact convertibles after that.
In Germany they didn't exist either, BMW was too small to afford one, same for Audi. Mercedes didn't actually build a mid-size sedan until the '82 MB190, they introduced a convertible based upon the larger W124 E-class in 91.
To give you a feel how much of a niche this really is, only 33,000 W124 cabriolets were built, on a total W124 production of 2million.
For the Peugeot 504 it's even worse: 8,000 convertibles on a total of 3.7million (20,000 coupés) , no wonder its successor (the 505) wasn't even avaialbe as a coupé and later on neither the 406coupé nor 407coupé came as a cabriolet.
Even though it basically held a US monopoly, the Chrysler LeBaron conv. only got to about 50k on a total of 3.5million K-cars. The K-car might've saved Chrysler, but the convertible didn't do much. By ca.1990 they were again in financial trouble, only to be saved temporarily by the LH (which was coincidentally a Renault derived platform)
So in succession we have:
- Omni/Horizon (Simca development from France/UK)
K-car (layout heavily influenced by above)
PL (Neon, strong influence of ca1990 Europeans such as the Citroen ZX/Peugeot 306)
LH (Renault 25 based, via Eagle Premier)
LX (Mercedes W210 based)
GS (=Mitsubishi platform)
This shows you that in four consecutive decades Chrysler didn't have enough cash to start proper developments and because they based them upon older external platforms, there was very little room for improvements. So dead-man-walking was an exaggeration, but not by much.