Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Very Sad

I was semi-joking about the American car industry and how there might only be one standing yesterday, but this came out today. I was bummed years ago when reading the history of the American auto industry that Studebaker, Packard, Auburn and Duesenberg disappeared. You, see, I love cars and some of those were classics. Engineering, design and performance classics that could not compete with mass production at Ford. I really felt sorry for Kaiser when he proudly stated Kaiser-Willys (pre-American Motors) had millions for R&D when GM had billions. You make one mistake when that underfunded and bye-bye company. Haven't seen many Kaiser-Willys or Kaiser Nashes lately, or heard "Hey Javelin" either. Yet they were unique and had a place in history. They were placed out of business because while their products were good, they were underfunded for business development and R&D.

So here we have a situation where Chrysler is going down. Daimler has given them a cash value of zero. If GM picks them up, that is basically a life preserver. They had the best 4-wheel drive technology (which is why they bought Jeep). They still have market niche with their hemi engines (even though in the world of high gas prices, it seems out of step, says the hybrid owner). A moment of silence for a company that really had "hot" cars during the 60s and 70s and never really recovered in the emissions era. They tried to downsize and still have fun cars--the Omni GLH by Carrol Shelby comes to mind, but the product line at that time Cordova, Aspen/Volare followed by the Kcar shows what happened. The minivan genre was their idea and is so copied that they deserve a cut of the profit and theirs is still the standard of the American industry. Their marriage with Daimler never worked and they lost, in a purge, the designers who brought you the Prowler and the small retro wagon whose name escapes me now. Ah yes, the PT Cruiser. Their brand niche was changed and identity lost and not quite recovered. I mean, who can point out an Aspen, Sebring or Pacifica in traffic? The Crossfire, yes, but the others--computer sez no.

On the other hand, VW is doing well. Puegot and Renault had their credit ratings cut. As an aside, in one of the biggest blunders in auto history, Ford turned down owning VW as reparations for WWII because "no one would buy a car like that." and then they had to rush out the Falcon to compete.


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