Back in the 1950″ and 60′s when I was a teenager we worshiped U.S. automobiles. They were the only cars made. Those VW’s and Renault’s and even the English Cars were laughed at as sissy cars. Even the Fiats were mocked as being poor pathetic bugs not worth of our attention.
We looked forward in the 50′s to each years Chevy or Dodge or Ford design or model. The 1954 Chevy & Ford were different. The Chevy had rounded lines following the designs od the 30′ & 40′s.. The Ford had straight lines with round tube tail lights. A bit daring for that time… Then boom, 55-56-57-58 were the wonder years for the U.S. auto makers.They were on the cutting edge of design and performance.
I had a good friend whose grandfather owned Southern Chevrolet at that time period. He was the luckyest kid in town because his birthday present in 55 was one of those new cars called a Corvette. Polo White with red seats…We drove that car in the ground. When he wore it out he got a 57 with fuel injection. A real death machine for a teenager.
But as we went into the 60′s the cars became for some reason more de-personalized . More plastic and less metal..Everyone liked them but the designn did not excite in anyway.
I bought a 53 Jaguar XK-120 in the late 60′s and something magical happened. I found out there were other brands of cars that were just as exciting. I was on the fence so to speak. I liked American and English autos. I was made fun of by some of my peers.
The years passed and all of the foreign imports arrived on our shores. Their main selling point was price and better gas mileage. Design was so-so.
As much as I hate to say it the U.S. car makers became complacent. The Unions drove the cost of car making up. The quality became at best fair to poor. Corners were cut. Emission Legislation drove the cost up even more. The foreign automakers concentrated on upgrading their quality while keeping their price down. They built plants in the U.S. and hired non union labor to keep the cost down. They were able to build a better product at a lower price.
The U.S. car makers just kept on cranking out their barely passable cookie cutter cars and imagined they were competing. Only to just fall further behind every year.
I would shop for a car and start comparing the quality of construction and finish. I would look at the U.S. cars and their foreigh counterparts. The foreign cars won out every time. I doubt today I would buy a U.S. brand car. They just dont meet todays standards. The Corvette of today has only their reputation to live on. Several foreign built similar cars will put the vette to shame.
And we wonder how we got to this point?
A lot of stupid mistakes on the upper managment of the U.S. car makers thinking they could pull the wool over the buyers eyes…And yes, the dreaded Union’s…
The days of the 57 Fords and Chevys are gone forever. All hail Nissan and Toyota and Lexus….
It’s a shame though.