A Tale of the American Car Company

April 27, 2009
Written by Cathy

502609973_15cf13875b My family was the poster child of the “Made in USA” label.  My father and grandfather were both mechanics that fed, clothed, and provided education for their families by being indirectly employed by the American car companies.  My uncle was a journeyman at General Motors in the 1990s.  The first cars I remember were my dad’s Chrysler and Chevrolet.  I’m not much of a car person, so I couldn’t tell you what models and years they were.

My dad bought an Oldsmobile 88 before they closed the brand in 2004.  Why?  When he was a kid in the hay-day of the American muscle cars, he remembered being smoked attempting to drag race a vintage Olds 88.  While the body style had changed quite a bit and was more sedan than muscle car, his fond memories led him to buy it.  I remember as a family, we only bought American cars.

Until last year.  My mom got into an accident and totaled my first car, an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme(my mom was completely uninjured).  They replaced it with a Subaru.  The first non American brand my dad ever bought.

I want to replace my 8 year old Jeep.  I bought Consumer Reports annual car reviews, and researched features, reliability and price.  When I compiled a list of cars that appealed to me, not a single American car was on my list.  I’m not going to buy something for $15-$20,000 purely for ideology or patriotism.  That would not be sending the right message to the manufacturers.  Make something I want, and I’ll buy it.  It takes me too long to earn that much money to buy for reasons other than reliability.

Not a single American car was in Consumer Reports’ top ten best cars list either.  If I had a comparable American car to what I wanted, perhaps I would favor American.  But I don’t.  I can get much better made cars for less.

What happened to the highest quality in the world made in the USA?  What happened to innovation and technology developed in the USA?

As a family that was raised, fed and educated with jobs created by the American car companies, I’m deeply wounded and disappointed.  My parents bought a Subaru because that was the best car for what they wanted.  I will most likely not be buying a GM, Chrysler, or Ford either.  I’m not happy about my taxpayer dollars funding them; if they made something that I wanted, I would buy it.

I don’t fault them for failing to see the future.  I fault them for failing to be leaders creating it.

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3 Responses to “A Tale of the American Car Company”

  1. This is a really great article that brings to light a fact that many people know deep down.

    I’d love to drive an American car, however, it just isn’t practical in my situation. There are several foreign cars (as you pointed out) that are more affordable and just as dependable.

    I hope we are able to get this industry figured out in the coming years. I think it vital to our economy as a whole!

  2. I would also like to drive American, but with globalization what is even American anymore? I bought a Honda made in the USA and own stock in Honda. Can’t get much more American than that. Great post.

  3. Baker: I agree – I think it is vital to our economy as a whole too. We need to be competitive. I think the current industry has failed (they failed several years ago) and are just limping along. I believe it can be turned around, but not with current leadership. My opinion is, if it’s broken, tear it down and rebuild. Putting band-aids on it just makes a franken-car company.

    Weakonomist: Thanks for your comment, and for stopping by! Very true. My mom’s new Subaru was made in Indiana.

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