Big ThreeWritten by Jim Blue | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Like most guys of my generation, I can mark the years of my life by the cars I’ve owned.
My first was a used ’69 Camaro, bought during my sophomore year in college.
I loved that car and its three-speed stick shift, ts 327 cubic inch V-8, its metallic green paint job.
I don’t know what I was thinking when, postgraduation, I sold it to a high school kid.
Next, I bought a brand new Triumph Spitfire. What a dog! Oh yeah, it was fun to drive. But every electric switch on the beast broke within a year. I was glad to part with that poorly built little roadster. It soured me on British cars forever.
Strangely enough, I know the Spitfire remains on the road. My ex-wife e-mailed me to report that she had spotted it in British Columbia. It still sported the dent in the hood incurred when she rear-ended a truck.
Then, there was the used ’72 Plymouth Duster. Great engine, but a chronic rust problem.
Next, a new ’78 Pontiac Firebird Formula. White exterior, white interior. Horribly impractical, but I was smitten when I first saw it on the lot.
That car had a tendency to stall in the middle of intersections. It was also the last piece of Detroit iron that I owned.
After I remarried, I converted to the cult of Toyota.
My wife had a cute little mustard-colored Celica. And it ran and ran. It never had a mechanical problem of any magnitude. I became an evangelist for Japanese autos.
Every single car I’ve bought since has been either a Toyota or a Nissan. Some were built here in the United States. But I was biased against the Big Three. And I wasn’t afraid to say so, although I kept my voice down around the burly guys with United Auto Workers (UAW) cards.
Before you union guys throw this paper in the trash, let me just say that I have a message for the American car industry in the current crisis. And it’s a message of tough love.
I am willing to return to the fold. I am ready to buy American. I just need to know you care about the people who drive your vehicles.
What I saw recently did not inspire confidence.
When the CEOs arrived in Washington aboard their jets asking for bailout cash, they didn’t exactly signal that they “get it.”
If America’s best hope for the future is the $40,000 plug-in Chevy Volt that will only be available in 2010, I’m not willing to trade in my Prius.
If the UAW won’t help reduce the $2,000-per-car labor cost disadvantage to Toyota, I can’t sympathize with the union.
You ask for our tax money, but you don’t offer to change your ways. Look, I know that we can’t let any of the Big Three collapse into a Chapter Seven bankruptcy; that way spells doom for the rest of the economy. And I don’t want to see any more of my neighbors losing their jobs; there is no point in punishing either the rank and file or the corporate bigwigs. It would simply punish the rest of us.
But please remember, all of you folks in the auto business, you’ve got to earn our loyalty again. Sell us cars that don’t just look cool, but have good value.
We’ll give you another chance, but don’t blow it.
E-mail columnist Jim Blue at JimBlue@JimBlue.com.