I'm not a car guy. I have never changed my own oil. My knowledge basically extends to I know how to unscrew the gas cap and on some cars, know where to check the coolant. When something goes wrong with my car, I follow a basic process. I take my car into a shop and shake my head up and down, while listening to the mechanic use words that could be absolute bullshit, as gasket and manifold might as well be Mandarin Chinese to my ears. The mechanic then tells me how much it will be, which brings about the only thing I'm sure about; I'm about to get bent over for the full Jiffy-lube service.
Whenever something does go wrong with my car, I start thinking again about why haven't I cultivated a friendship with someone who really likes to work on cars. Then I remember that I would rather pay double to have it fixed than to sit at some neighborhood barbecue listening to stories about overhauling a muscle car. It's probably true that if I didn't like football and pussy so much, I would probably have no qualifications to be a member in the Real Man club.
With this lack of interest in the inner-workings of a car, when I go shop for one I'm basically like some housewife who is only concerned with getting a cute, low-maintenance vehicle. Add good gas mileage to the mix and it isn't likely that you will see me in car made by Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler.
This isn't to say that I haven't owned American cars. I grew up in a household that considered the UAW as holy as Christianity and red meat. Both my Grandfathers and my Father worked at the Maytag Plant in Newton, Iowa, building home appliances that kept the Maytag repairman lonely. While they never received anywhere close to the kind of money that the United Auto Workers made, the UAW did provide a decent wage for the hard work they produced. As a member of the clan, it was considered a sacrilege to buy anything but an American-made car.
The first car I ever purchased on my own was after I graduated from college. While I had never really clung to anything which could be considered traditional or patriotic, I bought a Chevy Beretta because I knew it would make my Grandpa happy. I'm not sure there is anything that makes you feel more like an adult than buying your first car. Sadly, part of being an adult is having to pay for fixing stuff and the Beretta became nothing but a headache. It's major mechanical flaw was that it would constantly stall when it came to a halt, after going at high speeds. Since I was living in Chicago at the time, this was a real problem, considering I was given the honor of paying a toll every 4 miles on my way to work.
I can think of few cars that seemed to disappear off the roads more quickly than the Chevy Beretta. While Accords and Camrys from the early 90's still are plentiful, by the the end of the last decade it was really rare to see the Beretta. The most rare thing was to see a Beretta with it's original paint job, as almost the whole fleet of this model started losing its paiint by year 2. It was like the Beretta suffered from Vitiligo. Chevrolet should have included a large surgical mask to cover it up, much like Michael Jackson would wear.
Cars can be like people, as sometimes you can fall in love with quirky good looks, but within a couple of years you wonder what you ever originally saw in them. The Beretta was this type of car, which also was the case for my second car, the 1996 Ford Taurus. I figured that my bad luck with Chevy might be an abberation and I despite knowing that Toyota and Honda graded out better, I took a chance with the Taurus, especially since it had a better stereo system and leather seats than the Camry..
This was a bad decision, as combined with my girlfriend's miserable 1994 Pontiac Grand AM, we would be looking at one car repair after another for the next 4 years. The Grand AM was the biggest piece of shit car I've ever driven (and this includes the 1985 Yugo that my step-father owned.) This Grand AM used to overheat faster than Caligula at a Donkey Show. The Taurus was pretty luxrious and drove decently, but ended up dropping its transmission during year 3, going up a hill in Western Maryland.
Towed into a transmission shop in Cumberland, Maryland, the owner looked at me like I was the ticket for a new hot-tub for his patio. This was probably accented by the fact that I was coming home from a vacation and was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He gave me the Doc Hollywood treatment, saying that it would take a few days for him to get a transmission in-stock. Let me offer up that there was no (NSFW)Julie Warner to make my stay more delightful. Unlike the movies, I was to discover I was more likely to meet the kind of babewho would put Cumberland on the map a decade later, with her zany antics in Abu Ghraib. (Oh Lynndie, you know what I like. Now put the cigarette in your mouth,,, Yes, now point... I feel like Bruce Weber.)
So by 1998, I had my fill with buying American. I wanted to support my union tradition, but considering I put at least 30,000 miles per year on my car and can't change a tire, I needed a lower maintenance vehicle. Thus began my days driving Toyota's, which have served me very well.
Oh yeah, this was a Please Explain piece on American Automobiles. According to Consumer Reports and JD Power rankings, the American car companies have made a lot of progress in quality. Much of Detroit wonders why consumers haven't been more receptive, because of these improvements? Truthfully, I wonder why as many people buy them as they do. American automobiles could be just as reliable as their foreign competitors, but I wouldn't buy one now because they are some ugly-ass pieces of shit sheet metal.
Most of the really hideous looking cars on the road came from Detroit. The Chevy Malibu and Impala or the Ford Focus or Fusion might have look good from some angles, but the architects of these cars always seem to mess up the back or front. These cars are the equivalent to the pretty girl with bad teeth and a lumpy ass. You know, an ugly grill and lousy back end. While I'm not a fan of Chrysler, I give them some props for trying something different with their batmobile-influenced cars. Let me offer up, though, that when Dodge does those ads about a HEMI, I never feel less like a man, as I'm about as lost as when I watch an ad for a maxi-pad having wings.
The one place that Detroit was beating the foreign companies was in the SUV/Truck category. With the increase in gas prices and Japan getting more competitive in this category, Detroit is getting to the point where there is talk of bankruptcy. Sure union benefits (especially retirees health benefits) are really hurting the Big 3 in trying to compete with the Foreign automakers, but unitl they start designing better-looking automobiles, I don't know see why the tide will turn.
I perform standup in Michigan a lot and it is one of my favorite states in the country. Parts of the Lake Michigan coast are among the most beautiful places I've ever been in the US, and I love the people of the state. Currently the state is bleeding red ink and it's depressing for me to see. I know I'm part of the problem, as I just bought a Honda CR-V, instead of a Big 3 product. I have chosen globalization over US Made following the path of Thomas Friedman over Lou Dobbs. I want to be a protectionist, but I can't do it unilaterally.
Please Explain to me why I should buy American when it comes to a sedan or compact car?