Friday, December 5, 2008

Weep No More

I’ve loved cars since my grandmother traded in her 1949 Buick Roadmaster for the ‘54 model. I wept. The magazines Hot Rod, Car and Driver, Car Craft, and Motor Trend consumed much of my teenager spending money and reading time. They reported that California emission controls of the late 60’s threatened the “heavy Chevy’s.” I wept. In 1978 GM quit using the venerable Fischer C-body for its big cars -- Cadillac, Buick, Olds and Pontiac. I wept. I confess my envy of people who own more than one Corvette.

I came to forgive the Big Three for the junk they built in the 80s – duds like the Chevy Citation, Ford’s tin can of a Mustang and Chrysler’s Dodge Aspin. The down sized luxury cars made anyone of sense weep. I ignored the fact that automobile companies disappear. AMC, which had given us the AMX and Javelin, cranked out the Pacer and the Gremlin. No tear came to eye as AMC was swallowed by the python Chrysler. It deserved to be consumed.

Men like Harley Earl, George Romney and Lee Iacocca are legends who will be studied for ever, from business to design schools, for their contributions to the American automobile industry. Earl gave us the ‘Vette. Romney rescued American Motors and made it thrive. Iacocca gave us the Mustang and went on to persuade congress to bail out Chrysler almost single-handedly.

The United States was not founded upon a marketing plan of “let’s get bigger.” Neither was Chrysler, Ford, or General Motors. Unions came along later. However, the oxymoron “poor CEOs” applies to those (formerly) corporate aircraft fitted heads-of-state, which would be Michigan, who appeared before congress this week and increased their bail-out bid from $25 billion to $34 billion dollars. Well, at least they had a plan.

Codswallop. A plan is not an objective. Their plan is to remain afloat. Their plan must say what they think is politically correct. In Oz one does not look behind the curtain. So, their plan is to pretend that US citizens are ready to turn against fifty years of advertising and a post WWII love of horsepower. If they had a plan it would be to show us a 300 HP electric Corvette.

The proverbial Ace they have up their sleeve is that the Big 3 are too Big for the country and for the congress to allow to go broke. Therein lays the Trump. They are too big to allow failure. Congress knows how to committee, not how to captain. No “green” Vette? -- I weep.

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