Simpsons question: Why did Herb go bankrupt?

In the episode “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, Grandpa confesses to Homer that he’s got a long-lost half brother. Homer finds him and it turns out he’s a millionaire who owns a car manufacturer in Detroit.

Herb asks Homer, being an average American, to design a car. Homer ends up designing a monstrosity that costs $82000 and Herb files for bankruptcy.

I’ve never understood that ending. Why does Herb have to declare bankruptcy? Sure its ugly and probably wouldn’t sell, but it debuted at a car show, it’s not like he’s got a million of those made already. Why couldn’t he just scrap the design and start over? Even if it costs some money to put up the capital to design and make that prototype, surely that costs a miniscule amount compared to what the company is worth. Hell, Ford has survived worse, with a badly designed Pinto that blew up and got sued. They would repeat their mistake decades later in the Explorer which tended to flip over while turning and blow up. What am I missing about what Herb went through?

I imagine the R&D that went into turning Homer’s design into a working product broke the bank and scared off all his investors.

I don’t know but I’m curious, too. I went to the page for it (used to be a huge time waster for me, that site) to see if I could figure it out but there’s nothing else. I’m a little confused, too. Eighty two grand is a lot but if spending that much makes him declare bankruptcy, was his company THAT successful?

Just like the Edsel bankrupted Ford… oh, wait a minute. It’s just the Homer curse, like what happened to poor Grimey.

My guess is that Herb devoted all of his company’s resources to the Homer-designed model (manufacturing as well as R&D), so when it flopped, he had nothing else to sell.

It was the rack & peanut steering.

Slightly more seriously - the car which was an obvious, immediate disaster at its unveiling, unlike the Pinto & Edsel. It had been talked up as the new wonder car by the CEO/primary shareholder of Powell Motors. This made Herb look terrible - how could he let something so horribly bad get that far into production? The combination of the two sent the stock price tumbling.

My thought has always been that Herb DID go ahead and order a full production run of the car, so that by the time it was debuted at the auto show, he had already spent millions on producing it.

Seems kind of stupid but, he is a male Simpson so.

Oh yeah. Genetically he’s pretty much programmed to fail, isn’t he?

Though he does make it up again with that baby translation device…

The company, presumably, spent millions and millions on the prototype. What they got was a car for the “average American” that would cost $82,000 a pop.

My question: is it clear that the entire company went bust, or just Herb? One bad design shouldn’t be enough to sink a corporation, but I could see it sinking a career - maybe Herb got forced out by the board of his own company?

Ah. That makes more sense, Miller.

I know that in the link I posted it says that the sign Powell Motors is replaced with Kumatsu Motors. So I guess the Japanese bought out his company…

can’t be true, it is a holy site.

A wizard did it.

The company is definitely sold, and we know Herb is out on the street. Maybe all of Herb’s net worth is in company stock. Powell Motors is ruined financially after devoting all its resources to the Homer, maybe it declares bankruptcy, and it’s bought by Komatsu at pennies on the dollar, which is of little help to him since he’s been forced out. Obviously he doesn’t have enough money to keep his house. Why he doesn’t declare bankruptcy and try to save whatever he can, I don’t know. He wouldn’t be able to live in a mansion but he wouldn’t necessarily be forced to live at the train yard with the hobos.

Um, it’s The Simpsons. Why are you looking for meticulous realism??

Well, I didn’t mean time waster in a pejorative sense. More like I would get sucked into spending all my time reading it because it was so addictive.

I think realism is a perfectly cromulent expectation.

In the follow up Herb is broke and regains what he lost, maybe he didn’t have that much in reality. And Herb hasn’t been seen since the third season. Has he been mentioned since? What about the ugly half sister Homer has in England?

Flanders was on the verge of bankruptcy too, but then he came back. Mr Burns must have a lot of money other than his nuclear power plant but when he loses that he’s broke somehow.

Then he regains the money by selling his “Lil’ Lisa Slurry” plant.

I think the Frank Grimes episode says it best about the world of the Simpsons. Homer doesn’t seem to work, he is incompetent but everything goes his way. Frank Grimes is one of the few chracters to look at the Simpsons and Sprinfrield from our (the viewer’s) viewpoint.

each member of the family has some characteristics worth emulating.

Be like the boy!

Was this the episode where Homer had all the gadgets installed in his car (fax machine, deep fryer, etc.)?

No, that’s from this episode.

to quote the episode:

“This is your top priority. All other projects are on hold. I don’t want to see anything until it’s finished”.

There ya go. The Homer was a failure and Powell Motors had nothing else to sell that year. They were sold to the Japanese and Herb was forced out, likely loosing all of his stock options in the process. His own fault for not keeping a rainy day fund.