General Motors...Bankrupt? Say it ain't so...I have been reading a lot of articles and watching the talking heads go on and on about the fall of General Motors and frankly think most of them have missed a vital and key component as to WHY the company failed. That is until this morning, when I read P.J. O'Rourke's excellent treatise in the May 30th issue of the Wall Street Journal. See the article in its entirety here : The End of the Affair. The commentary reveals that Detroit lost its soul and passion when it allowed the bean counters and corporate bureaucrats to take over the business and let simple economics rule over the passion and romance that Americans have with their automobiles. I do not care what generation you are from, we all have special times, memories and emotions attached to our relationship with cars!It's part of the fabric of our society on every level!
I think everyone remembers Drives Ed. class, the first time you were allowed to take the family car, the purchase of an automobile and all of the different events that take place regarding a car while growing up. I mention this while also keeping on mind the events that can occur within the confines of a car whether it is moving or parked...Long before I was old enough to drive I enjoyed racing model "slot" cars at our local hobby shop in my West Texas town. When I was 10, my favorite model was a VERY COOL, 1963 Corvette Convertible. I remember holding it, polishing it, racing it around that local table top track and it was as real an experience as I could ever imagine without actually driving. I think that this is inherent in almost all children (certainly with boys) to some degree. When our son was between ages of 2 and 5 we would let him get behind the wheel of one of our cars (No keys, emergency brake on, windows down and one of us nearby keeping an eye out) and he would happily spend a couple of hours turning all the buttons, switches, levers and standing at the wheel "driving". All the while making assorted noises and sound effects to accompany his outing. We actually have a Ford 1996 Mustang Convertible GT (I know, it's not GM but it's an American muscle car) that, I refuse to part with because it is so much FUN to drive, but please do not ask about the gas mileage?!?!?
All that said, I think each of us has a special relationship with our automobiles and as a Realtor, I certainly spend a lot of time in mine. Mr. O'Rourke goes on to explain that this relationship between Americans goes back to the time when horses were our means of transportation. " Politicians, journalists, financial analysts and other purveyors of banality have been looking at cars as if a convertible were a business. Fire the MBAs and hire a poet. The fate of Detroit isn't a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It's a tragic romance-unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses." I could not agree more but as with all things a balance must beachieved. Honestly. look at cars made in China, Russia and many people recall the hapless "YUGO" ! Strictly utilitarian cars are NOT what American consumers are all about! Yes, I do understand the need for conservation and safety and a dozen other reasons why big muscle cars should be the exception and not the rule but it is clear to me that Governmental busybodies and corporate incompetence did more to bring General Motors down than anything else. I do not know what is in store with the next General Motors incarnation but I certainly have the fervent wish that creativity, artistry and a little romanticism are allowed to re-enter the equation. For heaven's sake, Germany and Italy, representing the pinnacle of both creativity and artistry have done extremely well with a line of incredibly sexy and hyper engineered designs. America can, by acknowledging a look toward the incredible minds and resources we have can make a comeback as the world leader in automobiles.
In the meantime, I will continue enjoying the guilty pleasure of driving that Mustang as I turn on my blinker, tap the gas pedal and and roar into the left lane before the psychotic driver of the tiny BMW attempts to cut me off...It's a good life here in Austin, Texas!