Monday, June 08, 2009

See the USA in Something Other Than a Chevrolet

Could be a Hyundai, or maybe a Toyota or Honda or something else. Just not a GM car, if this polling is to be believed:

Only 42% of those who currently own a General Motors car are even somewhat likely to buy a GM product for their next car. That figure includes just 30% who are Very Likely to do so.
I don't know who would buy a GM car right now. It's somewhat ironic, since GM has steadily improved their product quality over the past 20 years. The first GM car I owned was a 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon, which was underpowered, steered poorly and blew out two head gaskets. We replaced that heap with a 1997 Chevy Lumina, which I've written about at some length in the past. It was a much better car and we got 150,000 miles out of it without doing much more than routine maintenance. Some of the newer models that have been rolling off GM's assembly line in this decade have been very well regarded.

The cars that really hurt GM's (and by extension, Detroit's) reputation were the ones that they made in 1970s and 1980s, which were pretty poor. No one misses the Nova or Chevette or the Cadillac Cimmaron, to name just a few infamous examples. GM hasn't made anything that bad for years. But the damage is done.

I bought my car earlier this year and we probably won't buy another one for at least a few years. By then it wouldn't surprise me if there aren't any new GM cars left to buy.


Gino said...

i owned a 78 monza.
biggest mistake i ever made.
(btw, monza became cavalier once word got out that monzas sucked. if i knew you then, i would have warned you.)

after that, i swore a vow NEVER to own GM again. and i havent. and still never will.
if somebody *gave* me a 68 corvette, i'd still unload it the next day without ever sit behind the wheel.

yeah, i'm still pissed about it.
rape me once, you wont get a second chance.

Right Hook said...

Much of the problem with cars of the mid 70's and 80's were at least partially the result of government interference into the marketplace. The clean air regulations and CAFE standards at the time were too ambitious for the available technology and many of the safety requirements were not practical. Add in the government induced oil shortage, undue power by unions, the stodgy insurance industry, America bashing becoming fashionable, as well as a large dose of poor management and engineering decisions and the industry really didn't have a chance.

And yes, some Novas (e.g. the earlier, muscular versions) are missed by those of us who appreciate fine machinery from the days when cars had class and character. Today's cars, for the most part, are expensive, rolling appliances.

Mark Heuring said...

Can't argue with any of that, RH. Guess I don't remember the early Novas so well, but I rode around in plenty of the later ones and they weren't very good. And Gino is right, the Monza was a terrible car.

I have a high school friend who works for GM. She's an engineer and has been involved in production of a number of new models, including the new Camaro, I believe. She's a very smart person and she's worked very hard to help GM make the best car possible. I just hope that the cars she's worked with are actually available some day, but I have my doubts.

Right Hook said...

Maybe this will jar your memory of the Nova before Government Motors sold out its good name to a POS:

You are correct in having your doubts about cars of the future. According to IowaHawk, we're more likely to get crap like this:

Unfortunately this parody is probably far too close to the truth.

J. Peterson said...

I now own a product of GM. I have owned other models by the other two of the big three, and other GM Vehicles. I will not own anything by anyone of them for a long time.

Gino said...

i've ridden in an uncountable number of true 60's-70's muscle cars.
they were big in the coastal CA street cruising culture i grew up in.

and i can vouch from experience: the nova was everything you didnt, at first, think it was.

an unassuming car with powerful street cred.

although, my personal favorite was the early 70's 'cuda.

Right Hook said...

Gino, you are a wise man. MoPar kicked ass back then!

RIP MoPar and GM.