I followed a Subaru out the causeway the other day. It got me to thinking.
Coupla things have gone wrong for our kids in the past 40-or-so years. Unfortunately, it’s my fault. And Anne’s. And Bob’s. And Sal’s. And Dangerous Bill’s. And Linda’s. And Gene’s.
Ooh, there ya go. Let’s blame it all on Geno even if he is too old for the blame.
Our generation started out anti-war and ended up anti-everything. Want to put up a windmill to save us from imported oil? Somebody will protest. Want to shoot a terrorist? Somebody will protest. Want to manufacture widgets in Vermont, make some money and put folks to work? Somebody will protest. Want to cut a mangrove? Somebody will protest. NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) wasn’t coined by George Orwell. It came from the baby boomers.
That negativity has spread so it overshadows everything American.
We see one side of it in Jeremiah Wright who said blacks should sing “God damn America.”
We see the other side in that Subaru driver. See, there is a large and growing segment of America bashers who believe anything accomplished here is necessarily flawed and anything built here is necessarily shoddy.
Malcolm Bricklin made a deal with Subaru in the 60s to form Subaru of America and to introduce their cars to the United States.
I almost bought a Subaru Brat in 1978 or ’79. This scaled-down clone of the El Camino and the Ranchero from Chevy and Ford came with 4WD, an optional turbo charger, and standard rust. It was not a good car for Vermont and it cemented my expectations about Subaru quality for a couple of decades, despite the Legacy which was a decent, mainstream car and despite the fact that my daughter and son-in-law are on their third “Subi.”
I’ve looked pretty carefully at this now “National car of Vermont.” Subaru has built owner loyalty among yuppies by building what they see as an economical alternative to the Chevy, Ford, Jeep, and Volvo lines. It’s a worthwhile car.
Subi buyers, with their brethren Honda, Saab, Toyota, and Volvo buyers, won’t consider an American car. America-bashers believe German cars offer superior luxury and performance. America-bashers believe Japanese cars offer more dependability and fuel economy. America-bashers believe Scandinavian cars offer higher safety and quality. (It’s worth noting the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana, the original Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio, the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the Toyota plants in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, and Virginia. Saab is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors. Volvo is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford.)
Domestic manufacturers have cars that lead in all these areas. In the J.D. Powers June survey, Mercury passed Honda and the Chevy Malibu was one of the best new vehicles of the year. The Detroit News reports that the survey results are “a pretty good predictor” of long-term vehicle quality and consumer satisfaction. Despite that, the domestic manufacturers may never overcome the usually uneducated bias among America-bashers, particularly those in the general press.
I have examined and driven the world class cars from Cadillac, Chevy, and Ford. The big Caddy STS V-8 can out-luxe and outhandle the Mercedes C300 and it gets 25 mpg on the highway. (Don’t believe me? The 2008 CTS outscored both the Mercedes and the BMW 328i in Consumer Reports sport sedan review.) The Corvette can stomp pretty much any sports car on pretty much any road. And it gets better mileage than the Caddy whilst idling down the Interstate. And then there is Malibu. 30 mpg. Comfortable. Good performance. Good fit and finish. Anne drives an Accord. The Malibu is simply better. (Consumer Reports again: “This is a heavy hitter that competes head-on with Camry, Accord, and Altima … Really no reason for GM to build the G6, Aura, Impala, or LaCrosse anymore – just sell these instead.”)
I learned to appreciate the Subaru so it is possible to change people’s minds. Maybe.
I guess others think their “foreign” cars are better than “American” cars. I guess the America-bashers are wrong. Again.
For the record, I have indeed put my money where my mouth is. I own GM stock. I drive a Camaro convertible (29.6 mpg on I95 with the top down in October) and a Silverado.