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Posted: 1/29/2006 9:14:32 AM EDT
www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1697518,00.html?gusrc=rss

How the US fell out of love with its cars

Tail fins and chrome grilles were once the symbols of a superpower. Now, with 36,000 jobs cut in a week and foreign vehicles filling the highways, Paul Harris in New York surveys the collapse of an industry

Sunday January 29, 2006
The Observer

For John McVeigh, making cars was not just a job; it was his shot at the American Dream. He had left Glasgow a young, wide-eyed man at 21 and ended up in Detroit, lured by the huge factories churning out the cars that defined 20th century US life.

He started on the factory floor and rose through the ranks. When he retired in 1989 he was part of the management; he had brought up four good children and lived in a nice house in the suburbs. His neighbours' life stories mirrored his.

Article continues
But after a week in which Ford laid off 30,000 workers and shut 14 factories, McVeigh knows his story is now part of history, like the homesteaders or the goldrushers, a way of life his grandchildren will never know. He winced at the news. 'You can't do what I did now. It just could not happen again,' he said in an accent still coloured by his Scots childhood. The statistics tell a bleak story of economic disaster that has seen a whole corner of north-east America dubbed the Rust Belt. The Big Three - Ford, General Motors and Chrysler - have declining market share, crippling pension costs and a product line reliant on deep discounts to sell. Chrysler has been taken over by the Germans and GM posted a $8.6bn loss last week, its biggest since 1992. Ford has been losing market share for 10 straight years. Last week's news was so bad that few people noticed DaimlerChrysler quietly announcing it too was axeing 6,000 staff. At the same time, foreign firms have been invading.

In 1979 the Big Three sold nearly nine out of every 10 new vehicles on US roads. By 2004, as European and Asian firms ate away at their market, only about 50 per cent of the nation's new cars were sold by US producers. By October 2005, cars made by the Big Three accounted for about 40 per cent of the US market, according to Forbes. Toyota, Honda and Korean Hyundai had all made inroads. Even that US archetype the truck saw 30 per cent of its market go to foreigners.

The US car industry is lurching into terminal decline. It means a fundamental part of America has died as well. Nothing has come to symbolise the American century more than the American car. It began with Henry Ford and the Model T and went right through the tail-finned monsters of the Fifties and the hot rods of the Seventies.

American cars were about freedom, sexual liberation and sheer confident patriotism. For young Americans a driving licence and their first Chevy or Ford was the most important rite of passage into adulthood. The car gave birth to other American icons: the motel, the advertising billboard and the diner. They were all children of the road.

Of course, the car still defines a lifestyle. Americans still buy cars by the millions, whether they are in gridlocked LA or in the middle of Kansas miles from the nearest town. But what does it mean when a country's cultural heart is now made in Japan? Or Korea? Or Germany?

On a stretch of Texas highway west of Amarillo lies Cadillac Ranch. Planted in a field of wheat are 10 rusting Cadillacs, ranging from a 1949 Club Coupe to a 1963 Sedan. All stand face down in the earth, enormous tail fins pointing defiantly at the sky. They hail from an era when the Cadillac motto was 'The Standard of the World'.

Motorists in their thousands pull off the Interstate in their Hondas and Toyotas to gawp at the sculpture that has stood there for 32 years: a row of automobile tombstones. 'When we made it, Cadillac Ranch was intended to be as much a monument to the glory of the tail fin as a burial of the gas guzzler, said Chip Lord, one of the artists behind what has become one of the most famous US public works of art. 'But that's not how people see it these days.' When Lord and his fellow artists collected the Cadillacs for their work, they toured the Texas panhandle looking for cheap deals. Driving the huge beasts to Amarillo was a 'white trash dream come true,' he says.

Back in 1974 the cars' paint gleamed under the blue Western skies. Now they are rusted and covered in graffiti. 'Perhaps it can be seen now as a sign of the decline of the American empire,' Lord mused. 'It could become a symbol for it.'

Lord now drives a Honda: 'I know the thrill of being on the road in one of those old American cars, but the fact is that if you drive one you quickly realise how archaic they are.'

The thrill used to be all anyone cared about. American cars had names such as Mustang, Charger and Javelin. They were about moving forward, at speed and damn the consequences. The size of the engine and the roar it made cruising down the road were all that mattered. The American car was the ultimate expression of the self.

It was a story that begun at the start of the 20th century in Detroit, when Henry Ford, born on a Michigan farm, mass-produced the Model T. He changed not only his own life from rural poverty to urban riches, but the country's too.

In thrall to the car, America went from a farming-based society centred on small- town morality to an industrialised behemoth where the new cultural hero - personified by Ford himself - was the big city capitalist. The new frontier was not out on the open range or staking a homestead, it was on urban streets and the new horse was a car. Detroit became Motown - Motor City.

From the beginning, America's cars were just as much lifestyle as they were practical. In the Twenties, Ford Motion Pictures was the biggest film producer in the world, spewing out more than 3,000 movies celebrating the adventures to be had behind the wheel of a Ford. Product placement is no newcomer to the film industry; it was there at the birth.

In the Fifties and Sixties, brimming with post-war confidence, America entered the age of drive-in cinemas and suburbs geared around cars. James Dean drove a 1949 Mercury in Rebel Without A Cause and Steve McQueen tore through the streets of San Francisco in a 1968 Mustang in Bullitt. JFK was shot in a Lincoln Continental. Car advertisements featured open roads, blue skies and square-jawed fathers piloting wives and children along new Interstate highways (the biggest public works project in the history of the world). American cars were the best in the world because America was the best in the world.

It ended in the 1970s with the Oil Shock. Suddenly America - and its cars - were vulnerable. Rob Latham, a popular culture expert at the University of Iowa, was given his first car at the same time. 'It was a 1963 Chevy Malibu convertible. I was 16 years old, driving this huge gas guzzler right through the middle of the oil crisis when you were only allowed to buy petrol every other day. It was nuts,' he said. 'I later wrapped it around a telephone pole, but I loved that car.' He now drives a Suburu.

The same thing happened to Detroit. The 1970s triggered the decline of the American car industry and a landscape of huge factories and skyscrapers turned into an urban wasteland. Only last week, the downtown home of Motown records, whose music was born from black workers flocking to the city for the car factory jobs, was bulldozed.

America's tempestuous affair with the car has become a passionless marriage. Americans still need their cars, but the world has changed and they no longer really love them. Chrysler was taken over by Germany's Daimler. Japanese firms, such as Toyota and Honda, are opening plants as Ford shuts down. Cars are not big business. Ford as a company is worth about $15bn - Google is worth $129bn.

US car design and production values have also been criticised. For years American cars have been outperformed by their European and Asian competitors. 'Asian and European design used to be considered a joke in the 1980s. Now it is the standard for cars,' said Lord.

Many of the US cars now on the market copy modest European and Japanese designs and shun the brasher concepts. Ford has brought in two Britons to be in charge of the look of its European and US products. Future cars will also be more fuel-efficient and aware of green issues. That is probably good for the environment, but represents a huge shift in what a car actually means to Americans - and what America means to itself.

The Hollywood car of choice now is not the 1946 Fat Fender Ford Coupé of John Travolta's 'Greased Lightning' or Jayne Mansfield's Buick Electra. It is the Toyota Prius, an energy-efficient hybrid driven by Cameron Diaz and Leonardo di Caprio. And the king of the recent SUV craze is the far from sexy Hummer, a boxy military-style vehicle, inspired by the 1991 Gulf war, that encloses its owner in a protective shell. A car born of looking for enemies, not rolling down the windows and hitting the road.

Latham says his students no longer see their cars as an essential expression; their Toyotas and Hondas are just vehicles. They boast of iPods or computer games, not their 'wheels'.

'They are like walking cyborgs with all these things attached to them. Cars have become functional. They are not statements anymore. Electronics are,' he said.

Lord agrees: 'Young people do not have that same set of cultural signs. Their cultural landscape is about technology and the internet, not about convertibles and driving across America.'

The Age of the American car is passing into nostalgia. Latham once studied a slew of road movies from the early 1990s in which old American cars were nostalgically treated. The most famous was Thelma and Louise, in which two put-upon women find freedom in an open-top T-Bird. At the end of the film, the heroines hold hands and drive off the edge of a cliff.

It is a fitting image for the death of a slice of the American Dream. After decades of the car being so much more than just a mode of transport - of symbolising industry, art, freedom, sex, a triumphant America - it has now become simply a way of getting from A to B.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 9:47:13 AM EDT
I disagree with his conclusions. Cars are still a statement of identity for many people, witness the hollywood types with their love of the prius, soccer moms with their minivans, riceboys with their rice rockets, monster trucks, etc. The problem is that for most American cars nowadays, the statement is "bland garbage" so nobody is interested.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 9:54:32 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/29/2006 9:54:55 AM EDT by TUMOR]

The problem is that for most American cars nowadays, the statement is "bland garbage" so nobody is interested.


I agree!!!!

I can't tell a Chevy from a Ford from an Oldsmobile anymore.

Detroit committed suicide........it's too bad!
Just like Darwin said........adapt or die!
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 9:55:07 AM EDT
In a word, Horseshit!
Who is copying who? Who came up with minivans? who came up with SUVs? Who developed the truck market into what it is today? Who have Honda,Nissan and Toyota copied mercilessly?Tundra, Titan and Ridgeline? The truth is that Japan has come up with NO new ideas-America has always led the way. Who has the raw performance these days? No one else can touch a Z06 Corvette for even twice the money. I'm sick and tired of these articles pronouncing our death sentence. I can't understand why so many so-called Americans are willing to give away everything we have. The rest of the world looks on us with contempt,and they will all have a good laugh when we allow the last of our industry to be pissed away . They will say we are too stupid and lazy to even make anything for ourselves,and they may be right. We will be the economic colony of the world,consuming products, but allowed to have NO say in the design or production of them.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:01:20 AM EDT

Originally Posted By TUMOR:
I can't tell a Chevy from a Ford from an Oldsmobile anymore.



I can't tell a Camry from an Accord from a Sentra from a Sonata. They're all "transportation appliances".

I think that this sentence sums it up well:


'Young people do not have that same set of cultural signs. Their cultural landscape is about technology and the internet, not about convertibles and driving across America.'

Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:04:49 AM EDT
Yeah, let's not have an article about how the US fell out of love with the Auto Unions.

I think Detroit will survive if they can get out from under the Unions and head south. I'm surprised they've held out this long.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:09:55 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/29/2006 10:10:22 AM EDT by OKC03Cobra]
You can't be serious. This is a great time in automotive history if you love American musclecars. The 475hp Shelby GT500 is coming out this summer and the Challenger and Camaro are on the way.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:12:24 AM EDT
Toyota trucks are built in California. In West Virginia, four-cylinder engines for Corolla, Matrix, and Pontiac Vibe; V6 engines for the Sienna and Lexus RX 330; and automatic transmissions for North American-built Camry, Solara, Lexus RX 330 and Sienna. In Kentucky, the Camry 4-door sedan, Avalon sedan (also exported to Japan), Solara coupe/convertible, four-cylinder and V6 engines, axles, steering components, machined blocks, cylinder heads, crankshifts, camshifts and rods & axle assemblies and dies. In Alabama they build V8 engines for the Tundra and V6 engines for Tacoma and Tundra. In Indiana they build the Tundra, Sequoia and Sienna. And that's not all of Toyota's US manufacturing capacity, just a good sampling of it.

Nissan has a massive plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Honda builds in Marysville, Ohio and has since 1982. They've had a plant in East Liberty, OH since 1989. Both Honda and Toyota build vehicles in the US for export to Japan.

The problem isn't that Americans can't build good cars, it's that consumers now have more and better choices. And one problem the Big Three (now Big Two) have is a labor force that demands what the market can no longer support.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:14:52 AM EDT
It all comes down to quality and reliability, something Ford and GM lack.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:15:36 AM EDT
The 30000 jobs lost in a week are actually being phased out over the next 6 years. It still sucks but 30000 people DID NOT become unemployed last week.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:17:10 AM EDT
What do you know about Unions? Have you ever been a member of one? I am a Skilled Trades Pipefitter in the UAW,and I think I know a bit more about it. I've been working for 28 years now,and I have NEVER been on strike,not even once. Real radical union,huh? My wife is Korean,so we get Korean TV on the satellite. We constantly see pitched battles in the street between Korean autoworker's union menbers and the police.
The Union is vital for protecting us in the trades. They keep Salary from ordering us into dangerous situations with operating machinery,keep unqualified people from working on things they are not trained to work on,and protect us from unsafe working conditions. Do you want industrial conditions like China, where ghastly accidents are commonplace?
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:20:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/29/2006 10:22:01 AM EDT by the_great_snag]
Yup, they are just the latest in a string of industries to be run offshore by big labor...

ETA: Maybe there's a silver lining to this. Maybe after all the labor unions are gone due to no companies for them to bilk the democrats won't be able to count on their votes as automatic in every election.

Then we will just have to do something about the NEA, AFSCME, etc..
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:26:50 AM EDT
I don't know anyone that I work for that voted Democratic in the last few elections. The UAW may tell us how they want us to vote, but no one with a brain pays any attention to it. You guys know NOTHING about the UAW. I repeat, NOTHING!
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:27:10 AM EDT
Yup. Pretty accurate. We used to drive around in extensions of our egos. Pretty rare to see a blown Deuce Coupe running around any more. Costs too much...way too dangerous and frankly too damn uncomfortable.

My truck is utilitarian and my missus' Infiniti is luxurious. I can't see myself in my '66 GT-350 any more. Sorry...just the way it is.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:27:40 AM EDT

Originally Posted By sp1shooter:
The 30000 jobs lost in a week are actually being phased out over the next 6 years. It still sucks but 30000 people DID NOT become unemployed last week.


Exactly.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:27:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By greener556:
It all comes down to quality and reliability, something Ford and GM lack.



My 2003 Mustang Cobra is the best car I have ever owned and the Z06 Corvette is the finest sports car for the money.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:29:58 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:34:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By greener556:
It all comes down to quality and reliability, something Ford and GM lack.


This is Perhaps the best statement in this thread.

Also a big part of the fall of GM are the Unions the workers belong to. As soon as GM files for bankruptcy the Unions will be gone and GM will become profitable again. That's if Toyota doesn't buy them out. Which they have offered to do....Twice!, With Cash!
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:42:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/29/2006 10:43:09 AM EDT by the_great_snag]

Originally Posted By jeep44:
I don't know anyone that I work for that voted Democratic in the last few elections. The UAW may tell us how they want us to vote, but no one with a brain pays any attention to it. You guys know NOTHING about the UAW. I repeat, NOTHING!



I work at a contractor for a major American company that is heavily infused with UAW labor. They are currently sending every single iota of their manufacturing capacity that they can outside the country, and there are tons of contractors like myself who work there with no reasonable HOPE for a full-time permanent position because the company doesn't want to be forced to shell out more benefits they can't afford.

I also read all the liberal claptrap and downright disloyal SHIT the UAW writes in its propaganda leaflets....er ... I mean monthly newsletters to their few remaining local manufacturing people.

If I were in charge I would probably be getting a lot of lawsuits thrown at me, cause I would fire every SOB who contributes to that rag.

I also find it telling that the floor employees who are UAW members don't wear jackets and hats with the company logo - you know the company that has made them very well off and taken care of them for years - they wear UAW clothing.

I also find it enlightening that if someone in the shop chooses NOT to join the UAW they are branded a SCAB for their entire career with the company and are even called SCABS in their retirement announcements in the union newsletters.

I'm sorry if this pisses you off, but I despise the UAW and pretty much all big labor and I can promise you there is no way in hell I would willingly join them or allow any of my pay to be contributed to them. INdeed that is the very reason I have never followed my lifelong dream to go into teaching. I would rather rot in a gutter than give money to the NEA.

ETA: IN all fairness though, I also know a TON of UAW guys who thing the union's leadership is a bunch un-hinged liberal political hacks...
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 10:46:12 AM EDT
There was a time in this country where unions were in important and beneficial force for change, but that time is long long gone. What is left is an utter perversion created by crooked politicians and slimeball lawyers.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 11:00:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/29/2006 11:07:24 AM EDT by darth_pavoris]

Originally Posted By jeep44:
In a word, Horseshit!
Who is copying who? Who came up with minivans? who came up with SUVs? Who developed the truck market into what it is today? Who have Honda,Nissan and Toyota copied mercilessly?Tundra, Titan and Ridgeline? The truth is that Japan has come up with NO new ideas-America has always led the way. Who has the raw performance these days? No one else can touch a Z06 Corvette for even twice the money. I'm sick and tired of these articles pronouncing our death sentence. I can't understand why so many so-called Americans are willing to give away everything we have. The rest of the world looks on us with contempt,and they will all have a good laugh when we allow the last of our industry to be pissed away . They will say we are too stupid and lazy to even make anything for ourselves,and they may be right. We will be the economic colony of the world,consuming products, but allowed to have NO say in the design or production of them.



Keep swilling the kool aid dude.

the ridgeline has a fully independent rear suspension and a trunk built into the bed. how many american trucks have that?

corvette? please if i want to go fast i'll buy a busa or a zx-14.

assholes like you whine about us "so called" americans giving the county away. well guess what dude I drive one of those peices of shit you and your idiot bosses built. I really love the $500 i've had to shell out to get 2 coils replaced on it when it only has 64k miles on it! I've had my ford product in the shop 5 times in 2 months. Thank god i bought a honda motorcycle over the summer. that bike ALWAYS starts. so with all due respect fuck you and your fucking uaw asshole buddies and the management and incompetant enginners they work for and with. you wouldn't be in this situation now if ford, gm, and chrysler showed some competancy in putting together a vehicle. One of my coworkers bought a new 05 mustang. with 8k miles on it the rear end needed replaced. how long has ford been making gears? 100 years? and they STILL can't do it right.

I'm going party like its 2099 when ford and gm get broken up in bankrupcy court and sold to honda and toyota.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 11:10:26 AM EDT
Yeah, you're slaves hoping for a Confederate victory.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 11:13:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By darth_pavoris:
I'm going party like its 2099 when ford and gm get broken up in bankrupcy court and sold to honda and toyota.



Why?

I don't quite understand your joy and delight.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 11:39:01 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jeep44:
I don't know anyone that I work for that voted Democratic in the last few elections. The UAW may tell us how they want us to vote, but no one with a brain pays any attention to it. You guys know NOTHING about the UAW. I repeat, NOTHING!




I do. 3.5 years as a contractor in a design center with all the manual labor done by "skilled trades" whose work rules kept you from moving a damn box 20 feet, even when they wouldn't move it for another 5 days, even when you could go to their "work area" and see them sitting around wating to go on overtime before they did anything.

The stuff that gets done by non-union employees to do work for themselves (that they are being billed HUGE hourly rates with multi-hour minimums for by the union and end up having to do themselves to get it done) would rate several episodes of MacGuyver. You see, when you do the work yourself they somehow find the time to get off their stool, and get all huffy.

I wish I would have filmed some of it, it would make a hell of a documentary.

If the plants could shake the unions, they'd not only have workers who do the work that's needed, WHEN it's needed, and cheaper, they'd also have back all the productivity lost by salary employees who covertly do what the union won't.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 11:51:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By OKC03Cobra:
You can't be serious. This is a great time in automotive history if you love American musclecars. The 475hp Shelby GT500 is coming out this summer and the Challenger and Camaro are on the way.




I completely agree. This is the first time since 1971 that any of the big three are going to build something I actually want. The old muscle cars are too valuable and too expensive nowadays. For once, I'll be able to go buy a reasonably priced, powerful, RWD, good looking, kick ass muscle car and still have a warranty.

If it isn't that, it might as well be a POS econobox AFAIC. Or a truck. Neither are exactly exciting.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 11:54:03 AM EDT
Yeah, I was VERY happy to see the Camaro is coming back. I just about puked when they dropped it and the FB from their lines.

Almost as bad as Winchester shutting down..
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 12:34:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jeep44:
In a word, Horseshit!
Who is copying who? Who came up with minivans? who came up with SUVs? Who developed the truck market into what it is today? Who have Honda,Nissan and Toyota copied mercilessly?Tundra, Titan and Ridgeline? The truth is that Japan has come up with NO new ideas-America has always led the way.



Who manufactured the first mini truck that lead to the S10, Ranger, Tacoma, Colorado?

Link Posted: 1/29/2006 12:43:17 PM EDT
To get back to the article, I bet that asshat lives in a big city and hasn't ever owned a car.
About like a vegatarian commenting on America's falling out of love with steak.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 12:55:51 PM EDT
Americans hate the inconvenience of taking their car in for repair work. We don't like to waste our time and auto repair is a waste of time. US automakers are catching up and/or exceeding foreign standards, but it will take years to recapture market share because a bad reputation doesn't need to be advertised. Detroit should've raised their quality standards because they HAD the better reputation back then.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 1:01:32 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 1:08:52 PM EDT
This is America... we don't adopt things because of tradition. We do so because of proven performance.

When US automakers prove they can make better cars than the competition, they'll sell more cars and be back on top again.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 1:33:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jeep44:
In a word, Horseshit!
Who is copying who? Who came up with minivans? who came up with SUVs? Who developed the truck market into what it is today? Who have Honda,Nissan and Toyota copied mercilessly?Tundra, Titan and Ridgeline? The truth is that Japan has come up with NO new ideas-America has always led the way. Who has the raw performance these days? No one else can touch a Z06 Corvette for even twice the money. I'm sick and tired of these articles pronouncing our death sentence. I can't understand why so many so-called Americans are willing to give away everything we have. The rest of the world looks on us with contempt,and they will all have a good laugh when we allow the last of our industry to be pissed away . They will say we are too stupid and lazy to even make anything for ourselves,and they may be right. We will be the economic colony of the world,consuming products, but allowed to have NO say in the design or production of them.



Yes, the Z06 is a nice piece of machinery. They routinely blow my doors off at track events when nobody else in the run group can touch me. HOWEVER, you can't judge a manufacturer's entire line from their flagship product. While the new 'vette is very nice, the rest of Chevy's current lineup (diesel trucks excepted) is junk IMO.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 1:37:25 PM EDT
Sorry,Johnson. I've owned only GM cars and trucks for 30 years, and I have only had to do the typical things to them like brakes,etc. You know, I see old US beaters from the '80s driving around all the time, but I never see any old foreign cars. How come? where do they go? The junkyard,maybe?
No matter what, nothing is going to change the minds of most of you here. You spout baseless,unfounded statements,because you get all your information from internet forums.What is to keep the Japanese from posting "US cars suck' posts wherever they can? If you think America will be better off without unions,and without GM and Ford, then I feel sorry for your children. They will be struggling all their lives,barely keeping their heads above water,working solely at the whim of some (probably foreign) company, with no chance of ever rising above middle manager,if that.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 2:03:31 PM EDT

Who manufactured the first mini truck that lead to the S10, Ranger, Tacoma, Colorado?


Datsun/Nissan

Also the first Crew cab Compact P/U in the US
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 2:04:20 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 3:24:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jeep44:
Sorry,Johnson. I've owned only GM cars and trucks for 30 years, and I have only had to do the typical things to them like brakes,etc. You know, I see old US beaters from the '80s driving around all the time, but I never see any old foreign cars. How come? where do they go? The junkyard,maybe?
No matter what, nothing is going to change the minds of most of you here. You spout baseless,unfounded statements,because you get all your information from internet forums.What is to keep the Japanese from posting "US cars suck' posts wherever they can? If you think America will be better off without unions,and without GM and Ford, then I feel sorry for your children. They will be struggling all their lives,barely keeping their heads above water,working solely at the whim of some (probably foreign) company, with no chance of ever rising above middle manager,if that.



Are you kidding me? I see old, beat to shit Toyotas, Datsuns, Subarus and Volvos driving around my neck of the woods all the time. Of course, I don't live in Michigan and I don't wear UAW-issued rose colored glasses, so maybe I don't see things the same way you do.

And yes, the US car makers' bad rep is clearly all a conspiracy by the Japanese being perpetrated on teh intarweb. My real name is Aiko Hiroshito and I'm being paid big money by Honda to tell you how great my Acura MDX is. Well, not really. I mean, my Acura IS great, but I've never set foot in Japan.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 5:27:09 PM EDT
2 of my delivery/pick-up customers just told me that they will be laying off in the near future. One has already laid off 8,and the other is taking volunteers.(huh?) Both are suppliers to the big 3. Honda's not doing so well,either.(they're down 5%),I have another customer(supplier),who may be hurting,as they have a Honda contract,but no Toyota.
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 7:47:06 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/29/2006 9:37:38 PM EDT
I can not give up my love of the American car, even when it seems US car makers have.

I have ALWAYS bought, owned and driven American performance cars. When gas prices go up you will still see me driving a fast powerful American car. I'll just give up something else in my life if I have too.

I have a new baby in the house and we need a 4 door. I am thinking a charger might fit the bill.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 4:53:30 AM EDT
The article makes some good points, but I agree with many of the criticisms of the posters.

I take no happiness in the decline of the American auto industry. But the industry did the damage to itself. The problem is one of quality and value for the dollar.

It is indeed ironic that the American car companies invented many successfull "type vehicles"; minivans, etc. But the Japanese have a real talent for taking these American concepts and applying process engineering in a way that results in the best quality vehicles with the nicest set of options. This is the genius of the Japanese. They have proven that they can make "our cars" better than we do.

The unions haven't helped the American auto industry, but I cannot blame them for the problem the U.S. auto makers are in because the problem isn't that American cars cost too much. The most successful Japanese cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry cost more than their American counterparts but that doesn't put people off buying them in droves. Americans will pay more if they perceive that there is a quality advantage.

The U.S. auto manufacturer's problems stem from hubris and arrogance. They also have an ingrained attitude that if a car buyer is interested in fuel economy then that car buyer is a LOOSER! If a car buyer doesn't plan to trade in his car every two or three years and wants something that will go seven or eight years (or longer) with minimal problems, then that car buyer is a LOOSER! This explains why back in the seventies, after Honda and Toyota brought out two excellent "economy cars"; the Civic and the Corolla, Detroit answered with the Pinto and the Vega; two of the absolute worst cars Detroit ever put on the road.

And Detroit hasn't learned its lesson. Detroit just keeps repeating its past mistakes. Now with the Japanese mainstreaming hybrids and there are waiting lists in Japanese auto dealerships for these cars, Detroit is answering with more cheap ecomony cars that get 30-34mpg and which are once again going to turn out to be POS; - too little too late.

The braintrust in Detroit has proven that it DESERVES to get beat.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:05:51 AM EDT

Originally Posted By the_great_snag:
There was a time in this country where unions were in important and beneficial force for change, but that time is long long gone. What is left is an utter perversion created by crooked politicians and slimeball lawyers.



And they want your guns.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:06:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Coolio:


The U.S. auto manufacturer's problems stem from hubris and arrogance. They also have an ingrained attitude that if a car buyer is interested in fuel economy then that car buyer is a LOOSER! If a car buyer doesn't plan to trade in his car every two or three years and wants something that will go seven or eight years (or longer) with minimal problems, then that car buyer is a LOOSER! This explains why back in the seventies, after Honda and Toyota brought out two excellent "economy cars"; the Civic and the Corolla, Detroit answered with the Pinto and the Vega; two of the absolute worst cars Detroit ever put on the road.


Your right about that bigtime! The cavalier, geo, neon, etc. Intead of making a good economy car they just made car that would get good gas milage but put almost no money into making the car look good or drive good. Look at the Corolla these days, if you didn't know what you were looking at you would *almost* mistake it for a BMW.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:08:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
I can easily tell a Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler from a Toyota, Honda, or Nissan.

In ten years my Toyota will have only been to see the mechanic for scheduled maintenance, tires, and brake jobs.

In ten years, your Ford or Chevy will have had a lot more than that done to it.

I'm sorry, but it's all too true. The American companies (what's LEFT of them!) are learning
their lessons, and they're making better cars than they used to, but they are still lagging behind
the Japanese manufacturers, and that's just the simple truth of the matter.

If they don't catch up, and SOON, they'll all fall behind and the Big Three will be Toyota, Honda,
and Nissan.


Toyota has already passed Ford and currently holds the position of the no. 2 auto maker in the world,
and I think it'll be maybe two more years before they pass GM on the way to no. 1.

By that time, I expect Honda to pass Ford as well.

I don't know for sure but I'd bet that both of those companies have passed Chrysler already,
so perhaps my prediction of a Japanese Big Three is closer to reality than I'd like to believe.

CJ



+1.

Much as I love my 2001 Saturn mid-size wagon, I think my next car's going to be a Toyota Camry. Detroit doesn't make cars that fit my needs anymore. It will be my first foreign car since my first car, a real bomb, a 1968 English Ford Cortina. What a piece of crap.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:15:18 AM EDT
Wow. I had no idea so many people were down on unions. Another surprising thing is how many of you seem NOT to want to buy a new car every couple of years. All of my cars are older, and as far as I can tell I am the only one on my block who can afford a new car but won't.

Do you think cars will soon become like toaster, clothes and other items made in China - very cheap and very disposable.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:23:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Troy:

Originally Posted By jeep44:
In a word, Horseshit!
Who is copying who? Who came up with minivans? who came up with SUVs? Who developed the truck market into what it is today? Who have Honda,Nissan and Toyota copied mercilessly?Tundra, Titan and Ridgeline? The truth is that Japan has come up with NO new ideas-America has always led the way. Who has the raw performance these days? No one else can touch a Z06 Corvette for even twice the money.



All of those things are true. The real problem is QUALITY.

Most Japanese cars don't have the styling "personality" that many US cars had (and a few still have), and many of the concepts, like the MiniVan, large full-size trucks, double-cabs, and so on, were invented here. And certainly, a few recent "retro" designs, such as the new Mustang and the proposed Challenger are great.

But the overall QUALITY of the cars and trucks (the CARS in particular) just isn't there. And for *most* American cars, the styling isn't there either anymore. When a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry is more stylish than the US offerings (Ford Taurus, Chevy Lumina, Dodge whatever), there's a huge problem. And, really, the US manufacturers literally quit even TRYING to compete in the mid-size family sedan arena, along with several other categories, and focused almost exclusively on trucks & SUVs, apparently hoping that Japanese and Geman manufacturers wouldn't be able to compete in those categories. Oops.

Who can name a GREAT US-made compact car? The Cavalier? The Escort? Does anyone really believe that these cars are in the quality class of a Civic or a Corolla? Even today? No way.

Honda and Toyota start every new model car FROM SCRATCH every 4 years, and that allows them to incorporate new technology and design into their cars quickly. US manufacturers will stretch the same design 6, 8, sometimes 10 years or more. Look at the '79 Mustang: the same platform was still being used in '93, 14 years later! Huge advances were made in car technology during those years, but the US didn't want to spend the money to do a full redesign.

And lets be honest here; all the folks who currently or previously worked in the US auto industry can tell story after story about how the manufacturers and their suppliers do shoddy work and are totally indifferent to quality. And we're talking about both management and workers here.

In all of these announcements, no where do you hear anything about working to improve quality; about bringing in new management to turn around the quality of the cars; about new contracts that use quality as a benchmark for pay. Nothing is being done to fix the real, core problems. And that's why the US manufacturers are in big trouble today.

-Troy



Troy hit the nail on the head.
If I'm spending 25 or 30,000 on a car I want it to be reliable. I want it to go the distance. Yes, we all have our stories of this or that Chevy or Ford going the distance, but statistically speaking if you want a car that will hold it resale and go the distance you dont want American.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:41:01 AM EDT

Originally Posted By darth_pavoris:
I'm going party like its 2099 when ford and gm get broken up in bankrupcy court and sold to honda and toyota.




IDIOT.

When you look up IDIOT in the dictionary you see a picture of darth_pavoris.

America needs to make some changes there is no doubt about that, but this sheer delight in the demise of great American manufacturing companies that have been around for almost 100 years, that's just stupid. You apparently have no idea how far reaching the ripple effects of such a breakup would extend.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:53:57 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AR15fan:

Originally Posted By jeep44:
In a word, Horseshit!
Who is copying who? Who came up with minivans? who came up with SUVs? Who developed the truck market into what it is today? Who have Honda,Nissan and Toyota copied mercilessly?Tundra, Titan and Ridgeline? The truth is that Japan has come up with NO new ideas-America has always led the way.



Who manufactured the first mini truck that lead to the S10, Ranger, Tacoma, Colorado?




And Volkswagen came up with the minivan.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 5:57:21 AM EDT
Ill buy Toyota trucks for the rest of my life. Had a 92 4x4 pickup that lasted me 13 years. If the damn thing had AC I would still have it. Was in the shop once for a clutch master cylinder and thats it. I just bought an 04 Taco xtra cab and plan to have this thing for many many years to come.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 6:01:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jeep44:
What do you know about Unions? Have you ever been a member of one? I am a Skilled Trades Pipefitter in the UAW,and I think I know a bit more about it. I've been working for 28 years now,and I have NEVER been on strike,not even once. Real radical union,huh? My wife is Korean,so we get Korean TV on the satellite. We constantly see pitched battles in the street between Korean autoworker's union menbers and the police.
The Union is vital for protecting us in the trades. They keep Salary from ordering us into dangerous situations with operating machinery,keep unqualified people from working on things they are not trained to work on,and protect us from unsafe working conditions. Do you want industrial conditions like China, where ghastly accidents are commonplace?




workers of the world unite!

preach on comrade!

btw, we jumped the shark right about here:



We thought we could put top-selling Mustang badge on a turd, while the Japanese started importing Civics and Accords
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 6:06:11 AM EDT

Originally Posted By OKC03Cobra:
You can't be serious. This is a great time in automotive history if you love American musclecars. The 475hp Shelby GT500 is coming out this summer and the Challenger and Camaro are on the way.



You are correct but we don't have to wait. The 350HP charger or 300C are here now. This is the beginning of a good cycle in American automotive history as long as the oil companies stay with us. All we need to make it perfect is sub $1 gas again. Open ANWAR and lets start puling some crude off the coast of Florida. Make sure the muscle of today can run on alternative fuel (ethenol) and we will have a period in history to rival the 60's.
Link Posted: 1/30/2006 6:07:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:
Yup. Pretty accurate. We used to drive around in extensions of our egos. Pretty rare to see a blown Deuce Coupe running around any more. Costs too much...way too dangerous and frankly too damn uncomfortable.

My truck is utilitarian and my missus' Infiniti is luxurious. I can't see myself in my '66 GT-350 any more. Sorry...just the way it is.



WOW, you just defined getting OLD!
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