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Cow Grazing, Mack Avenue


Detroit, Michigan: My former hometown, where they like to restrict design innovation to the dilapidated buildings, keeping it far, far away from the auto industry.

Gregg mentioned over lunch on Sunday how amazing it was that, in response the oil crisis in the seventies, all the American car companies built these ugly "econoboxes." It is amazing how they've maintained such a consistent track record for pathetic design and technological innovation -- dragging well-behind the Japanese in both of those areas for the past 30-plus years. Helloooo? Wake up, Ford, GM, Chrysler! If you're not already dead.

photo by Gregg Sutter

Posted by aalkon at January 9, 2006 10:06 AM

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Of course, the USA held a huge advantage after WW2, not having its economy redesigned by B-17s and B-29s. When you are forced to build small cars, you will, and you will get good at it. I recall part of a conversation between one of our governmental officials and a German minister during the "Energy Crisis". When asked why there was still no speed limit on the Autobahn though fuel prices were at an all-time high, the minister replied to the effect that fuel has always been expensive in Europe - and that if they were to impose speed limits, they (Germany) would start building bad cars like the Americans.

As the Corvette shows, American designers can do things right. There is just so much market in the US that a lot of junk sells.

And there are crappy Japanese and German cars. Ask Click & Clack, the Tappet Brothers.

Posted by: Radwaste at January 9, 2006 3:05 AM

they were also selling a shit load of big suv's and made a lot of money from them. americans voting with their pockets want big cars and trucks and only when gas gets a little high does anyone (the masses) think small. there is hardly any profit margin from small econo-cars. car producters wants to make and sell the big ticket lux cars and suv's, i think that american co.s left the low profit cars to others. focusing on what they preceived was what they did best building big. it looks like that was a poor bet now but it worked for them for many years and they did make a bunch of money from that.

ps imho i wouldn't call the Corvette a good example a car done right.

Posted by: -mike- at January 9, 2006 7:48 AM

> Ask Click & Clack, the Tappet Brothers.

Ever hear Harry Shearer's parody of Car Talk?

Brother #1: "It MIGHT be your carburator..."

Brother #2: "Haw haw haw!"

Kaus says you gotta blame Detroit's unions too, and not just the manufacturers per se. That makes sense.

Posted by: Crid at January 9, 2006 9:24 AM

Chrysler has had some good designs over the past few years starting with the PT Cruiser. Ford has done some good things with their Mustang, but with the demise of the Camero the Mustang has become a chick car. Every time I see a new Mustang there's a woman behind the steering wheel.

Posted by: nash at January 10, 2006 6:45 AM

Were you here this weekend? That cow is practically next door to my house! You should have called!

Posted by: Nance at January 12, 2006 6:18 PM

I would have, if I'd been there. But, I was in sunny southern California, stealing photos from Gregg!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 12, 2006 7:11 PM

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