mellicious: pink manicure (Buffy quote: flawed design)
[personal profile] mellicious
We had a conversation in the car today about cars (who'd'a thunk?) and the car industry generally. Now I'm pretty neutral on the bailout idea - I mean, I have no idea whether that would be a good idea to bail out the Big Three or not. But it doesn't seem to me that the US auto industry is beyond saving. Even though I think, and have thought practically all my life, that American cars are totally uncool, there's still no reason that they have to be that way.

I know the American auto industry has fucked a lot of things up, but still, my dislike for them is the product of my age, to a great degree. I was a teenager in the 70s, an era that in retrospect seems an awful lot like today - bad economy, skyrocketing price of gas, disgraced Republican president - honestly, except for the fact that the price of gas has (temporarily) stopped skyrocketing, the parallels are positively eerie. And everybody's parents drove big ugly... GIGANTIC cars. See? Eerie. And since no kid wants to be like their parents, the cars we thought were cool were little tiny things, which at that time came pretty exclusively from Japan (maybe a few from Europe). My first car was an early-70s-vintage Toyota Corolla. It was bright orange and it was about the size that Mini Coopers are today. Seriously. The boys in my sister's gym class once memorably picked it up and turned it sideways so they could all sit on top of it more comfortably. (I learned about this that afternoon when I came back to the car that afternoon and noticed that it wasn't quite where I left it. My sister was all nonchalant, "Oh yeah, the boys moved it." "They did what??!?")

So anyway, I think the big boat-like Buicks and Lincolns and things from the 70s are about the equivalent of everybody's mother's Ford Explorer nowadays. (Actually I don't think that Explorers are quite so ugly. But otherwise, pretty comparable.) And hopefully, that means that a whole generation of kids will be like me and think they're just awful. I don't really think the equivalent of my old Corolla is today's Corolla, those have been around forever right now, and they're certainly not new and interesting. More like a Prius, maybe. Or whatever shiny new model comes along to replace the Prius. But once again, there's certainly no reason that that has to be something from Japan, rather than something from Detroit.

Rob suggested that the American carmakers ought to do more retro things like Mustangs and Corvettes, which does seem like an idea. We were discussing Firebirds, those were pretty ubiquitous at the time. Why not make something that looks like a Firebird? Seems like all the boys would buy one of those! (I'm not really sure I want to see the return of the Firebird, but then I'm not a muscle-car fan, anyway.)

It seems to me, to be ever so slightly more serious about this, that a lot of where the American car business went wrong was that they went overboard milking the cash-cow of those damn SUVs. You can't really blame them for milking the cow when it threw itself in front of them, so to speak - the problem was that they thought that cow was gonna be around to milk forever. And it just doesn't work that way.

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