$3 million bux for one L1011?? Interesting......
From the way you wrote that, it looks like you were thinking that was the price of the L.1011. That was in fact the loss
per L.1011. The price at introduction was closer to $25 million.
Lockheed had a successful turboprop business going when jets first came online. They figured the lower per-unit operating costs of the L-188s would lure airlines to the Electras. Unfortunately, they guessed wrong, excepting Shuttle, which used L-188s for many years, as well as a few other operators of the type who needed a stop-gap aircraft to replace some aging props until smaller jets (like th 727, 737 and DC-9) came online.
Lockheed bowed out of the jet market until PanAm went looking for an ultra-large passenger aircraft, eventually choosing the Boeing 747. Not wanting Boeing to have a monopoly in this market, Pan Am and other airlines including TWA, American and United approached Douglas and Lockheed about building competitor aircraft.
Douglas's initial design put the 747 to shame (in fact, it looked a lot like today's A380!). Due to the production problems at Long Beach and the resulting merger with McDonnel, the design was paired back to the DC-10 we all know and love.
Lockheed developed the L.1011 in much the same way that MDD did: A less expensive, slightly smaller, but capable aircraft with capacity roughly 50% greater than anything else available at the time. Three engines would hopefully make it less expensive to maintain, and the simpler, smaller design was hoped to entice airlines to choose it as a more flexible option over the 747.
Unfortunately for Lockheed, the L.1011 suffered from the same problems that Douglas would suffer from not having a middle-range aircraft after stopping DC-8 production. Since there were no small- or mid-sized Lockheeds to buy, a lot of airlines chose to operate Boeing or MDD aircraft, since they could develop stronger relationships with those companies.
"We're quite happy with these 707s, 727s and 737s we've been flying, and now we're looking at widebodies to augment our regional route system and become a national carrier. We'd like to look at the 747. What kind of deal can you give us?"
The same kind of things go on today.
It's interesting how a decision made in the 1950s (selling the L-188 over a jet aircraft) could affect Lockheed's ability to sell widebodies in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.