Bye Bye Big Three?

Seems as though the auto industry bailout may go by the wayside. This is troubling for those of us that have an emotional attachment to the Big Three. it's also unnerving because of the ripple effect it may have on the rest of the economy. It';s hard for me to fathom life without one or all three of these companies, but it may actually happen.

I've been thinking about this though and I've arrived at the conclusion that the bailout isn't such a good idea. The American auto industry has been in decline for years. These guys can't get out of their own way. They're mismanaged, constantly in the red and pay their former workers way too much. Why bail out an industry that's wholly unproductive and failing because of it's own poor decisions? It's been a fact for a long time now that the big three just can not compete with foreign car makers. I think it's because their cars suck.

For those of us here, car design took a nose dive around 1972 or so, maybe 1974 if you're charitable. So that's 35 years where Detroit has rolled out crappy design after crappy design. Think of the bloated Mopars of the mid '70s or the god awful Fords. GM was no better - my parents '73 Vega wagon might have been the worst car our family ever owned. To this day, my mom will not buy an American car though every time she wants a new car I PLEAD with her to buy American.

The '80s and '90s were no better, possibly even worse. Taurus? Cirrus? Celebrity? Awful awful cars. There's a few cars from the Big Three that come to mind that were well thought-out and were good at what they did - obviously the Fox Mustangs, The Buick Grand National, The later Camaros and Firebirds, The mid -90's Impalas and the Vette from recent years. I can only think of one Chrysler product from the last 30 years that sticks out for me and that's the LX/300 platform. (Viper dosen't really count, Challenger might be too little too late) Obviously the K car and the Minivan saved the company, but that vehicle platform was derived for a single purpose - economy. Some 2.2 cars were OK I guess, but not spectacular. I've always been partial to the Ram trucks before '93 but there really isn't anything else I can think of. The Prowler to me was horrible. Think about it, there were no rear-drive cars from Chrylser for decades except the trucks and Jeeps.

Not everyone wants performance though. Let's take my mom - she likes semi-luxury touring-type sedans. Not AMG price range, but not econo box either. I asked her why not a 300 or a Caddy? Her answer always seems to be that the American cars just didn't cut it against the foreign makes. What about the import kids? Why are they driving early '90s Honda shit boxes? They all turn their noses up at anything made in America. This is not good!

If they survive into the next year, the Big Three really need to design appealing cars. They obviously need to compete with BMW, Toyota and Honda and make people want to buy their cars again. How can this be done? I think appearance may have a little to do with it. Clearly people want economic cars but they need to look good. What affordable American cars do you find appealing these days? Interiors need to improve. The one drawback of the Challenger that you seem to see in the automotive press is that the interior is sub-par. I actually thought the interior of the Cobalt SS was pretty decent. They need to increase performance - more turbo 4-cylinders. I think they also need to jettison some weight. Do you really need that navigation system, video screen or seat warmer? I've never had any such luxuries in any of my cars and quite frankly don't need them.

I really can't put my finger on exactly why people perceive foreign cars are so much better. Quality? Feel? Confidence in the car's reliability? I drove Toyota trucks for years and never had one problem with anything mechanical. I don't know about any of this really, but I just hope this crisis dosen't take out the Big Three.

Stepping off soapbox now. Let's hear your thoughts!
Author: admin