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The Decline & Fall of the Amreican Auto Industry by B. Yates


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From when until 2005; 2000 ? 1980 ? 1960 ? 1910 ?

Why not jot down the passages in question ?

Well, it is specifically referencing the J-car intro & development, but the description of that project's target (Accord) vs. actual execution covers any 'import fighter' from GM between 1970 & 2005.

Unbelievable that such myopic behavior could grip a corporation that large and (historically) successful.

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>>"...almost any set of products from GM until about 2005"<<

So 1981 - 2005 covers "almost any set of products" ?? Ummm, OK.

You know; most of GM's problems, by popular choice, seem to stem from overlapping brands / models / pricing. Would this not support dating the cause back to 1908? By only 1920, GM owned or had owned 21 different brands, flirted with bankruptcy and ousted it's CEO twice, yet was a distant 2nd to Ford (with just 1 brand). I don't know about you guys, but I see a clear parallel from that right up to the current STS not having a glove box light, don't you?

Ain't hindsight a barrel full of drunk monkeys ?

Edited by balthazar
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>>"...almost any set of products from GM until about 2005"<<

So 1981 - 2005 covers "almost any set of products" ?? Ummm, OK.

You know; most of GM's problems, by popular choice, seem to stem from overlapping brands / models / pricing. Would this not support dating the cause back to 1908? By only 1920, GM owned or had owned 21 different brands, flirted with bankruptcy and ousted it's CEO twice, yet was a distant 2nd to Ford (with just 1 brand). I don't know about you guys, but I see a clear parallel from that right up to the current STS not having a glove box light, don't you?

Ain't hindsight a barrel full of drunk monkeys ?

Hey, Bitter-zar....

Give the book a read...it's incredibly prescient regarding what has brought GM to its knees today.

Don't want to believe the truth? I'm sure there's a corner office at GM for you.

There was a lesson to be learned that clearly went unnoticed, that's all I'm saying. I guess when collective heads are shoved up their nethers, the message can't get thru.

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>>"...almost any set of products from GM until about 2005"<<

So 1981 - 2005 covers "almost any set of products" ?? Ummm, OK.

You know; most of GM's problems, by popular choice, seem to stem from overlapping brands / models / pricing.

Well, in the 80s, though, the overlapping between the CPOB brands got to the point that the models all looked much the same. All the generic, low quality, bland boxy FWD models that had very little differentiation in style or content...the X, J, A, N cars...

Edited by moltar
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>>"Hey, Bitter-zar.... Give the book a read...it's incredibly prescient regarding what has brought GM to its knees today. Don't want to believe the truth? I'm sure there's a corner office at GM for you."<<

I will give it a read if I can get my hands on a copy, but I'm never eager to accept one person's account as unvarnished truth without corroborating evidence. The 'whistleblower' is too often given great benefits of doubt, even tho there be 6 or 8 different positions on the same issue.

What convinced you the book is "the truth" ??

You have to admit, in the publishing field, accounts of wrong-doings and scandalous practices are at the forefront of successful efforts. People seem to inexplicably enjoy failure and finger-pointing in this country.

In my study of the Corp over many years, if it has revealed nothing else it's that the entity is incredibly complex, has changed its SOP countless times and has generally shown indiffference to it's own history. However, no one has ever claimed they have been even close to perfect.

At this point I have to believe a clear, succinct picture of the inner workings over it's history is completely beyond reach.

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>>"...almost any set of products from GM until about 2005"<<

So 1981 - 2005 covers "almost any set of products" ?? Ummm, OK.

You know; most of GM's problems, by popular choice, seem to stem from overlapping brands / models / pricing.

While that HAS been a huge stumbling block for GM, that has nothing to do with the fact that all those overlapping models were so clearly uncompetitive in the marketplace they were launched.....

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While that HAS been a huge stumbling block for GM, that has nothing to do with the fact that all those overlapping models were so clearly uncompetitive in the marketplace they were launched.....

That I would have to agree with ...the 80s were real bad...

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>>"...almost any set of products from GM until about 2005"<<

So 1981 - 2005 covers "almost any set of products" ?? Ummm, OK.

You know; most of GM's problems, by popular choice, seem to stem from overlapping brands / models / pricing. Would this not support dating the cause back to 1908? By only 1920, GM owned or had owned 21 different brands, flirted with bankruptcy and ousted it's CEO twice, yet was a distant 2nd to Ford (with just 1 brand). I don't know about you guys, but I see a clear parallel from that right up to the current STS not having a glove box light, don't you?

Ain't hindsight a barrel full of drunk monkeys ?

:lol:

I can pull out any number of MT, CD, R&T from the '80s and read all about Detroit's 'comeback.' Makes for more than a few good laughs.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: the media and most 'journalists' are jaded and, let's face it - it's all been said before. There ain't any more pullitzers out there for writing about the car industry. Anyone who thinks GM and Ford could have held onto their stranglehold of the North American industry that they enjoyed 35 years ago is a serious fool.

It does not matter one iota what Ford or GM did 'wrong' in the '80s or '90s: the fact remains that Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and many others, built ugly crap back then, and now they do not. If someone had told me 10 years ago that they were buying a Hyundai, I would have said they were an idiot. Now, I would merely say they are selling our future up the river, but the car itself is not bad. How would the Big 2.5 fought against a gradual awakening of the compeitition (well, except Toyota) that good looking, well designed products sell?

The one thing I realize as I hit my late '40s: I have read all this before, and I am sure I will read it again. There are very few original thoughts out there left, and none of it is being written about the auto industry.

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Why not just indict our Capitalist-cum-Socialist system? With the massive rescue of the Financial System, we're all Socialists now. These same people saw National Health-Care as too expensive to implement. The frauds.

You guys would have your 'free' Medicare by now with the money Washington is using to bail out the vultures on WallStreet. Did I not predict this just a year or so ago?

Will the trillion (read: TRILLION) dollars that this is going to cost, NASA could set up a base on Mars, then send the WallStreet bankers to it. THAT would be a far better use of a trillion dollars, IMO.

A certain somebody (who no longer posts here) took exception to my disdain for accountants and banker types, but I am being being proven right. We cannot live in a country that produces only paper assets.

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You guys would have your 'free' Medicare by now with the money Washington is using to bail out the vultures on WallStreet. Did I not predict this just a year or so ago?

Will the trillion (read: TRILLION) dollars that this is going to cost, NASA could set up a base on Mars, then send the WallStreet bankers to it. THAT would be a far better use of a trillion dollars, IMO.

A certain somebody (who no longer posts here) took exception to my disdain for accountants and banker types, but I am being being proven right. We cannot live in a country that produces only paper assets.

The GOP/Republican base have their tentacles into everything down here to the extent that the flim-flamming of your southern neighbors took place at their capricious whim and at their pleasure. Well, the piggy-bank's broken and we're creating 'wealth' to bail ourselves out.

The financial pages here lament the lack of car buyers. Funny*.

People here are out of work so they aren't buying cars. Home values and home equity has become a quaint memory and those folks are not going to be tapping their home's value to purchase a new ride. We may see levels of sales here consistent with the actual purchasing capabilities of the American consumer. Likely to see U.S. sales stagnate in the range of 12.75 to 13.5 million per year for several years to come as the dust continues to settle.

*ironic and sad

Edited by longtooth
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Not sure how this became a 'bailout' thread...but let's not cast stones, GM fans---the Det3's turn at the gov't trough will be coming down the pipe real soon.

(The complete meltdown of our financial system certainly required intervention...the wisdom of the solution can be debated all day).

As far as Yates' book goes, it's simply sad to see the same errors made generation upon generation. And while I agree with 'Biz that the erosion of the Det3's marketshare was inevitable, I completely disagree that the current crisis couldn't be avoided.

High quality, competitive product produced consistently would have enabled the Det3 to maintain profitability and pricing discipline for their car line-up---and as a subscriber to Car & Driver since '81, I can promise you that few Detroit products were considered "Best" anything.

The J-car (and T and Vega and X car) were simply not good. The A, N, GM-10 and W's that followed were, at best, mediocre. The other co's were similarly spotty with their cars.

The Culture that allowed this to happen hasn't changed---just open the doors of most Det3 products to find the truth is self evident--and the only way to right the ship is to make demonstrably superior product that will bring back customers that wouldn't have previously come into the showroom.

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Not sure how this became a 'bailout' thread...but let's not cast stones, GM fans---the Det3's turn at the gov't trough will be coming down the pipe real soon.

(The complete meltdown of our financial system certainly required intervention...the wisdom of the solution can be debated all day).

As far as Yates' book goes, it's simply sad to see the same errors made generation upon generation. And while I agree with 'Biz that the erosion of the Det3's marketshare was inevitable, I completely disagree that the current crisis couldn't be avoided.

High quality, competitive product produced consistently would have enabled the Det3 to maintain profitability and pricing discipline for their car line-up---and as a subscriber to Car & Driver since '81, I can promise you that few Detroit products were considered "Best" anything.

The J-car (and T and Vega and X car) were simply not good. The A, N, GM-10 and W's that followed were, at best, mediocre. The other co's were similarly spotty with their cars.

The Culture that allowed this to happen hasn't changed---just open the doors of most Det3 products to find the truth is self evident--and the only way to right the ship is to make demonstrably superior product that will bring back customers that wouldn't have previously come into the showroom.

The J-Body, coming on the heels of the at-the-time successful X-Body program. They were initially well received. As a 20-something autoworker in the Spring of '82, I can still remember the new Cavaliers lined up and showing their pretty faces on Main Street at Stockburger Chevrolet in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Right in the heart of town. Real Americana.

You really had to have been there to have understood the heady nature of the times and sweeping dynamic of it all. 26 and one-half years ago. Middle of an oil-shock induced recession. My goodness.

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The J-Body, coming on the heels of the at-the-time successful X-Body program. They were initially well received. As a 20-something autoworker in the Spring of '82, I can still remember the new Cavaliers lined up and showing their pretty faces on Main Street at Stockburger Chevrolet in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Right in the heart of town. Real Americana.

You really had to have been there to have understood the heady nature of the times and sweeping dynamic of it all. 26 and one-half years ago. Middle of an oil-shock induced recession. My goodness.

:deadhorse:

Forget it. I've stopped arguing with people who dredge up the original J-bodies, K-cars and others. Those of us who lived it (and worked in the auto industry in the '80s) KNOW that the original Civics, Accords, Tercels, etc. were pieces of &#036;h&#33;, too. But REVISIONIST HISTORY states that only GM and Ford built crap back then.

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:deadhorse:

Forget it. I've stopped arguing with people who dredge up the original J-bodies, K-cars and others. Those of us who lived it (and worked in the auto industry in the '80s) KNOW that the original Civics, Accords, Tercels, etc. were pieces of &#036;h&#33;, too. But REVISIONIST HISTORY states that only GM and Ford built crap back then.

:CanadaEmoticon: I'll hoist one to you then 'Biz. You know of what you speak. I would say that going forward, GM really needs to apply what they/we preach to what we build. I'll do what I can in my small part.

As for the 1980's vintage J's and X's, it was something to see and something to have been privileged to have been a part of. Like the song says: " They can't take that away from me".- George and Ira Gershwin.

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I have to concur with CARBIZ & longtooth RE the '80 X-cars & the J-cars. It is only thru the distorted lense of revisionism that these cars were 'clearly uncompetitive' in their day. Anyone who values C&D's opinion should read the eye-opener review of the '81 Cimarron; they loved it.

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I have to concur with CARBIZ & longtooth RE the '80 X-cars & the J-cars. It is only thru the distorted lense of revisionism that these cars were 'clearly uncompetitive' in their day. Anyone who values C&D's opinion should read the eye-opener review of the '81 Cimarron; they loved it.

Meh...they were still mediocre crap any way you look at it..lots of recalls and they rusted out quickly. Not GM's best by any stretch of the imagination.

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I have to concur with CARBIZ & longtooth RE the '80 X-cars & the J-cars. It is only thru the distorted lense of revisionism that these cars were 'clearly uncompetitive' in their day. Anyone who values C&D's opinion should read the eye-opener review of the '81 Cimarron; they loved it.

The J & X were crap--the X's sold well and were an ownership night mare---as well as severe braking problems that were never fully cured during production of these "revolutionary" products...and the J were crappy from the start and got marginally better until they became as stale as week-old bread.

If there's any revisionist history going on here, it's you guys. The only point I will concede is that the popular press played a critical role in cheerleading these products up to intro (couldn't have had anything to do with a historically expensive ad campaign, huh?).

AS for Cimarron circa '81...That's absolute BS.

I'd like somebody to pull this C&D article. IIRC, it wasn't well received by anyone...the 6 cyl. versions years later got much better reviews.

(and PS--the book is from 1983, that's why these products are relevant to this thread....I'm slowly getting the feeling I'm not wanted, as the same posters love to bash me--usually without an actual clue or concern as to the accuracy or truthfullness of their statements---)

Anyone who knows anything about the industry won't wade into a conversation defending either the J or X's...it's simply not possible to credit these cars with anything, other than help lose a generation of domestic buyers to the imports---shame on you!

Edited by enzl
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The J & X were crap--the X's sold well and were an ownership night mare---as well as severe braking problems that were never fully cured during production of these "revolutionary" products...and the J were crappy from the start and got marginally better until they became as stale as week-old bread.

If there's any revisionist history going on here, it's you guys. The only point I will concede is that the popular press played a critical role in cheerleading these products up to intro (couldn't have had anything to do with a historically expensive ad campaign, huh?).

AS for Cimarron circa '81...That's absolute BS.

I'd like somebody to pull this C&D article. IIRC, it wasn't well received by anyone...the 6 cyl. versions years later got much better reviews.

(and PS--the book is from 1983, that's why these products are relevant to this thread....I'm slowly getting the feeling I'm not wanted, as the same posters love to bash me--usually without an actual clue or concern as to the accuracy or truthfullness of their statements---)

Anyone who knows anything about the industry won't wade into a conversation defending either the J or X's...it's simply not possible to credit these cars with anything, other than help lose a generation of domestic buyers to the imports---shame on you!

I honestly can't imagine anyone defending the J, X, A, or N cars of the 80s..they were absolute crap, GM at it's lowest point. The Cimmaron was an abomination, against everything Cadillac was about--it was a simple rebadge of a Chevy sh*tbox. The FWD garbage of the '80s are the cars that earned GM its poor reputation it's been struggling to overcome ever since then.

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Well, you're all wrong, no matter how firmly you 'know' this to be true a mere 26 years later. I happen to have the 8/81 C&D '82 Cimarron review in my files, so buckle yer belts. I cannot transcribe it all, but here's unedited sections (with zero monkey business on my part):

"Though the Cimarron bears a close resemblence to other J-cars, we can say that the revisions Cadillac has made were all aimed in precisely the right direction."

The restyling Cadillac did, for instance, could not have been more apropos. The Cimarron looks like the clean break with the past that it is. The typical-for-Cadillac bow-shaped hood and massive grille have given way to a front-end treatment that looks like that of an Impala (which itself started looking like a Cadillac a few years back). The tail is neat & simple. The standard tires are chunky blackwall Goodyear P195/70R-13s mounted on 5.5" wide alloys wheels, also standard. Chrome is used sparingly and wonder of wonders; there's not even a stand-up hood ornament.

When you pull open a door you find more of the same inside. The interior styling is conservative to the point of being nondescript. All Cimarron seats are covered with handsome perforated leather. The door panels repeat the pleat theme with some of the world's best vinyl."

"We're also happy to report that the Cimarron appears to be put together with more care than we've seen in most American cars until now. We managed to score a pair of early production cars for this test - #s 5 & 15 to be exact. We found their paintwork good, the fit of the doors snug, and the body panels and trim lines up just so. In the cabin, everything was battened down tightly as well. The body structure was rock solid. The overall feeling around these parts is that the Cimarron doesn't have quite the tight-fitting look of an audi 4000, but it isn't far off, either- and that's saying something.

When you're keeping company with BMW & audi, a high level of fit & finish is expected. So are first-class road manners, and Cadillac didn't neglect it's duties on that front either."

We rounded up 4 of the Caddy's world-class competitors- the audi 4000 4E, the BMW 320i, the honda accord se and the volvo GL, for a day-long drive-off just to see where it stands."

For the first time in a Cadillac of recent vintage, you can actually feel there's a road down there. In fact, the ride is actually quite firm, about like the BMW's."

On the twists & turns of our country-road test loop, the Cimarron showed it could cut & run almost as well as Europe's best. In most situations the tires stay planted securely & allow you to make good use of the .73-g cornering potential- which is well into BMW territory. The steering is quick and the tail tracks respectfully behind when you dive for an apex or whip around your favorite cloverleaf."

The volvo, audi & honda 4-cyls whir like sewing machine motors when you press them, but the Cimarron thrashes in the upper rev ranges- though it doesn't assault your ears nearly as badly as the BMW's. And tho the Cadillac's 13.7 sec 0-60 time is a match for the honda's & within a tick of the audi's, the wide gearbox ratios keep the Cimarron feeling flatfooted."

If the Cimarron isn't exactly a BMW killer, it's still solidly competitive elsewhere.For one thing, it's very roomy for a car so small. The seats front & rear are commendably supportive for long distance touring (tho the front buckets could use more lateral support). The Cimarron is a first-rate Interstate sled as well- as stable as an Amtrak liner & about the smoothest & quiestest 80-MPH cruiser in the group."

Our sources report that a 2.0L injected 4-cyl & a 5-spd close-ratio manual are already under developement for the '83 MY."

With a little polishing here & there, the Cimarron could actually make it as a world-class small sedan. (not even audi gets everything right the first time around). But even as is, the Cimarron is a pretty nice piece of work. And for a Cadillac- well, it's just plain amazing."

Oh SNAP!!

Volvo GL: 107HP 130 CI 4, 4-spd OD, 3100 lbs, 0-60: 10.9, 1/4mile: 17.8 @ 75, lateral g: .70, slalom: 55.6

Honda Acc: 75HP 107 CI 4, 5-spd, 2320 lbs, 0-60: 13.7, 1/4mile: 19.1 @ 69, lateral g: .71, slalom: 57.6

Audi 4000: 74HP 105 CI 4, 5-spd, 2300 lbs, 0-60: 13.3, 1/4mile: 18.7 @ 71, lateral g: .76 slalom: 57.8

BMW 320i: 101HP 108 CI 4, 5-spd, 2460 lbs, 0-60: 10.4, 1/4mile: 17.5 @ 76, lateral g: .74 slalom: 56.1

Cimarron: 85HP 112 CI 4, 4-spd, 2685 lbs, 0-60: 13.7, 1/4mile: 19.5 @ 70, lateral g: .73 slalom: 58.6

All the imports have those ungainly, tacked-on black rubber bumpers while -gasp- the Cimarron has integrated body-colored bumpers... just like every car on the road now. It's also a lot cleaner-lined that the other, with the possible exception of the lunchbox volvo.

I guess the Telescope of Revisionism fails to show you guys how utterly wretched everyone else was too in the '80s. The Cadillac ran 2.5 MPH faster thru the slalom than the hand-delivered-by-God 320i. WTFH, right? How could the Cimarron be such an uncompetitive POS when it was so well matched to the segment ?? Were they all just uncompetitve POS ?? I guess so.

-- -- -- --

Understand- I'm not defending the Cimarron (I have no interest in the car) in as much as I'm setting the record straight: like I said earlier: C&D was very favorable to the Cimarron, esp in comparison to it's competition. The segment was what it was, and all the players were very close. This one account disproves the 'common knowledge' that the J-cars were "absolute crap". Again- if you value the opinions of C&D as worth something, the only claim you detractors can make stick is that it's uncompetitive relative to today, but not to 1982. And that's hardly legitimate, sorry.

Edited by balthazar
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:deadhorse:

Forget it. I've stopped arguing with people who dredge up the original J-bodies, K-cars and others. Those of us who lived it (and worked in the auto industry in the '80s) KNOW that the original Civics, Accords, Tercels, etc. were pieces of &#036;h&#33;, too. But REVISIONIST HISTORY states that only GM and Ford built crap back then.

OK....this is the second time that you've brought this up in this thread....so I'm going to respond:

The Japanese imports of the time were significantly more accomplished than the J- and K-cars of the early eighties.....smooth-revving OHC inline-4s while GM was peddling carburated, OHV 1.8L and 2.0L engines that couldn't pull their own weight.....the later throttle-body injection (and OHC 1.8L brazillian unit) engines didn't do much to improve the situation.

Also, not to mention substandard fit-and-finish and ergonomics of the interior, and overall poor quality.....

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OK....this is the second time that you've brought this up in this thread....so I'm going to respond:

The Japanese imports of the time were significantly more accomplished than the J- and K-cars of the early eighties.....smooth-revving OHC inline-4s while GM was peddling carburated, OHV 1.8L and 2.0L engines that couldn't pull their own weight.....the later throttle-body injection (and OHC 1.8L brazillian unit) engines didn't do much to improve the situation.

Also, not to mention substandard fit-and-finish and ergonomics of the interior, and overall poor quality.....

+1

Chris

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Well, you're all wrong, no matter how firmly you 'know' this to be true a mere 26 years later. I happen to have the 8/81 C&D '82 Cimarron review in my files, so buckle yer belts. I cannot transcribe it all, but here's unedited sections (with zero monkey business on my part):

"Though the Cimarron bears a close resemblence to other J-cars, we can say that the revisions Cadillac has made were all aimed in precisely the right direction."

The restyling Cadillac did, for instance, could not have been more apropos. The Cimarron looks like the clean break with the past that it is. The typical-for-Cadillac bow-shaped hood and massive grille have given way to a front-end treatment that looks like that of an Impala (which itself started looking like a Cadillac a few years back). The tail is neat & simple. The standard tires are chunky blackwall Goodyear P195/70R-13s mounted on 5.5" wide alloys wheels, also standard. Chrome is used sparingly and wonder of wonders; there's not even a stand-up hood ornament.

When you pull open a door you find more of the same inside. The interior styling is conservative to the point of being nondescript. All Cimarron seats are covered with handsome perforated leather. The door panels repeat the pleat theme with some of the world's best vinyl."

"We're also happy to report that the Cimarron appears to be put together with more care than we've seen in most American cars until now. We managed to score a pair of early production cars for this test - #s 5 & 15 to be exact. We found their paintwork good, the fit of the doors snug, and the body panels and trim lines up just so. In the cabin, everything was battened down tightly as well. The body structure was rock solid. The overall feeling around these parts is that the Cimarron doesn't have quite the tight-fitting look of an audi 4000, but it isn't far off, either- and that's saying something.

When you're keeping company with BMW & audi, a high level of fit & finish is expected. So are first-class road manners, and Cadillac didn't neglect it's duties on that front either."

We rounded up 4 of the Caddy's world-class competitors- the audi 4000 4E, the BMW 320i, the honda accord se and the volvo GL, for a day-long drive-off just to see where it stands."

For the first time in a Cadillac of recent vintage, you can actually feel there's a road down there. In fact, the ride is actually quite firm, about like the BMW's."

On the twists & turns of our country-road test loop, the Cimarron showed it could cut & run almost as well as Europe's best. In most situations the tires stay planted securely & allow you to make good use of the .73-g cornering potential- which is well into BMW territory. The steering is quick and the tail tracks respectfully behind when you dive for an apex or whip around your favorite cloverleaf."

The volvo, audi & honda 4-cyls whir like sewing machine motors when you press them, but the Cimarron thrashes in the upper rev ranges- though it doesn't assault your ears nearly as badly as the BMW's. And tho the Cadillac's 13.7 sec 0-60 time is a match for the honda's & within a tick of the audi's, the wide gearbox ratios keep the Cimarron feeling flatfooted."

If the Cimarron isn't exactly a BMW killer, it's still solidly competitive elsewhere.For one thing, it's very roomy for a car so small. The seats front & rear are commendably supportive for long distance touring (tho the front buckets could use more lateral support). The Cimarron is a first-rate Interstate sled as well- as stable as an Amtrak liner & about the smoothest & quiestest 80-MPH cruiser in the group."

Our sources report that a 2.0L injected 4-cyl & a 5-spd close-ratio manual are already under developement for the '83 MY."

With a little polishing here & there, the Cimarron could actually make it as a world-class small sedan. (not even audi gets everything right the first time around). But even as is, the Cimarron is a pretty nice piece of work. And for a Cadillac- well, it's just plain amazing."

Oh SNAP!!

Volvo GL: 107HP 130 CI 4, 4-spd OD, 3100 lbs, 0-60: 10.9, 1/4mile: 17.8 @ 75, lateral g: .70, slalom: 55.6

Honda Acc: 75HP 107 CI 4, 5-spd, 2320 lbs, 0-60: 13.7, 1/4mile: 19.1 @ 69, lateral g: .71, slalom: 57.6

Audi 4000: 74HP 105 CI 4, 5-spd, 2300 lbs, 0-60: 13.3, 1/4mile: 18.7 @ 71, lateral g: .76 slalom: 57.8

BMW 320i: 101HP 108 CI 4, 5-spd, 2460 lbs, 0-60: 10.4, 1/4mile: 17.5 @ 76, lateral g: .74 slalom: 56.1

Cimarron: 85HP 112 CI 4, 4-spd, 2685 lbs, 0-60: 13.7, 1/4mile: 19.5 @ 70, lateral g: .73 slalom: 58.6

All the imports have those ungainly, tacked-on black rubber bumpers while -gasp- the Cimarron has integrated body-colored bumpers... just like every car on the road now. It's also a lot cleaner-lined that the other, with the possible exception of the lunchbox volvo.

I guess the Telescope of Revisionism fails to show you guys how utterly wretched everyone else was too in the '80s. The Cadillac ran 2.5 MPH faster thru the slalom than the hand-delivered-by-God 320i. WTFH, right? How could the Cimarron be such an uncompetitive POS when it was so well matched to the segment ?? Were they all just uncompetitve POS ?? I guess so.

-- -- -- --

Understand- I'm not defending the Cimarron (I have no interest in the car) in as much as I'm setting the record straight: like I said earlier: C&D was very favorable to the Cimarron, esp in comparison to it's competition. The segment was what it was, and all the players were very close. This one account disproves the 'common knowledge' that the J-cars were "absolute crap". Again- if you value the opinions of C&D as worth something, the only claim you detractors can make stick is that it's uncompetitive relative to today, but not to 1982. And that's hardly legitimate, sorry.

Just one question, what was the order of finish in this comparison test?

Edited by enzl
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The J & X were crap--the X's sold well and were an ownership night mare---as well as severe braking problems that were never fully cured during production of these "revolutionary" products...and the J were crappy from the start and got marginally better until they became as stale as week-old bread.

If there's any revisionist history going on here, it's you guys. The only point I will concede is that the popular press played a critical role in cheerleading these products up to intro (couldn't have had anything to do with a historically expensive ad campaign, huh?).

AS for Cimarron circa '81...That's absolute BS.

I'd like somebody to pull this C&D article. IIRC, it wasn't well received by anyone...the 6 cyl. versions years later got much better reviews.

(and PS--the book is from 1983, that's why these products are relevant to this thread....I'm slowly getting the feeling I'm not wanted, as the same posters love to bash me--usually without an actual clue or concern as to the accuracy or truthfullness of their statements---)

Anyone who knows anything about the industry won't wade into a conversation defending either the J or X's...it's simply not possible to credit these cars with anything, other than help lose a generation of domestic buyers to the imports---shame on you!

Nothing personal, Enzl - but were you in the 'biz in the early '80s? I drove a parts truck for a major parts distributor in '81 and hung out with a lot of car guys. I witnessed a 240Z going up on a hoist and the wheels staying on the ground, due to rust. I talked to taxi drivers (when I was concierge in a major hotel) who had taken delivery of the first K-cars - they were thrilled with the roominess and gas mileage. (Remember, adjusted for inflation, '81 had higher gas prices than NOW.) My ex had a '81 Tercel: the pure definition of &#036;h&#33;.

I will concede the X-cars were total crap. I worked at a Pontiac-Buick-Cadillac dealer then and saw the sheer numbers of Citations, Pheonixes, etc. being brought in for warranty work.

You are right about one thing, though: the media were and are a bunch of sheep. Just as they gushed over ever junk heap the Big 3 produced in the '80s they now squeal like school girls over every turd Japan builds.

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OK....this is the second time that you've brought this up in this thread....so I'm going to respond:

The Japanese imports of the time were significantly more accomplished than the J- and K-cars of the early eighties.....smooth-revving OHC inline-4s while GM was peddling carburated, OHV 1.8L and 2.0L engines that couldn't pull their own weight.....the later throttle-body injection (and OHC 1.8L brazillian unit) engines didn't do much to improve the situation.

Also, not to mention substandard fit-and-finish and ergonomics of the interior, and overall poor quality.....

OH, PUHLEASE! I rented a Datsun 210 in the summer of '83 to go camping - the f'ing thing couldn't pass dumptrucks on passing lanes in norther Ontario. A year later, I sailed up the same stretch of road in an (get ready for this) OMNI. JapCrap was designed for stick shift only. When accompanied with a 3 speed slushbox, they were noisy and couldn't get out of their own way.

You had to live it, my friend. Japanese cars in the early '80s were, at best, oddities. The only way I can explain how those turds didn't sink Honda and Toyota is because a) they were more simply equipped (no a/c, no power windows, etc., so fewer things could go wrong, relative to their American cousins) and b) fewer people bought them, so fewer people regretted buying them.

Now, if we start talking LATE '80s, that is an entirely different matter, but this subject was about an '83 article and the complicity of the media.

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enzl- >>"Just one question, what was the order of finish in this comparison test?"<<

In this era, it was standard media practice NOT to rank them or give arbitrary points (outside of COTY-caliber articles), so there was no ranking. Refreshing; one can concentrate on the review without immediately getting slapped with 'winner' and 'bunch of losers'.

enzl- >>"Anyone who knows anything about the industry won't wade into a conversation defending either the J or X's"<<

C&D --many memory-compromised years later-- followed mob sentiment and doubled-back on their favorable comparison/review to snipe at the Cimarron. If I'm going to place creedence in one ot the 2 POVs, it'll be the fresh, hands-on impression vs. the segment players over an opportunity to revel in the hip-shot cliche'.

the OC- >>"Also, not to mention substandard fit-and-finish and ergonomics of the interior, and overall poor quality....."<<

Hello... is this thing on?

Car&Driver- >>"...paintwork good, the fit of the doors snug, and the body panels and trim lines up just so. In the cabin, everything was battened down tightly as well. The body structure was rock solid. The overall feeling around these parts is that the Cimarron doesn't have quite the tight-fitting look of an audi 4000, but it isn't far off, either..."<<

the OC- >>"The Japanese imports of the time were significantly more accomplished than the J- and K-cars of the early eighties.....smooth-revving OHC inline-4s while GM was peddling carburated, OHV 1.8L and 2.0L engines that couldn't pull their own weight.....the later throttle-body injection (and OHC 1.8L brazillian unit) engines didn't do much to improve the situation."<<

Cadillac, who introduced EFI to American cars ('50s MoPars aside) in '75 was all FI when the Cimarron went to FI for '83.

Can't for the life of me see how you can claim the Cimarron 'couldn't pull it's own weight' when the accord (2300 lbs !!) had the 'equally significant' accel numbers! No quicker, but at least the Cimarron was running rings around the accord (& the BMW) in handling. Add to ithe accord's resume: dumpy body hardware, cheap, spartan interior and the propensity to rot to the door handles inside of 5 years, and the case for the japanese 'masters' is monster stretch.

1983~

Accord : 75 HP / 93 TRQ, carbureted 1.7L

Cimarron : 88 HP / 110 TRQ FI 2.0L

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Can't for the life of me see how you can claim the Cimarron 'couldn't pull it's own weight' when the accord (2300 lbs !!) had the 'equally significant' accel numbers! No quicker, but at least the Cimarron was running rings around the accord (& the BMW) in handling.

It would be delusional to compare a FWD J-car turd to any BMW. RWD gives BMW superiority, even a 4cyl '83 3-series..

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The honda & audi were also in the comparison field with the BMW. I didn't pick 'em, but the fact remains the J-car outran the beemer in the slalom & equalled it on the skidpad, FWD and all. BMW may have felt better (not that they said so), but it fell well behind in instrumented handling testing (it was noticably quicker than the Cim, tho).

Contrary to fortune cookie research, BMW was NOT traditionally at the head of the class WRT performance/handling all the way back to when the brand was first founded. I know, I know; OMG! OHNOZ! THE F'ING BLAZFEMY !?!!

Suck it.

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The honda & audi were also in the comparison field with the BMW. I didn't pick 'em, but the fact remains the J-car outran the beemer in the slalom & equalled it on the skidpad, FWD and all. BMW may have felt better (not that they said so), but it fell well behind in instrumented handling testing (it was noticably quicker than the Cim, tho).

Contrary to fortune cookie research, BMW was NOT traditionally at the head of the class WRT performance/handling all the way back to when the brand was first founded. I know, I know; OMG! OHNOZ! THE F'ING BLAZFEMY !?!!

Suck it.

Believe what you want to believe.... anyway you look at it, the Cimmaron was a pathetic excuse for a Cadillac. The J-cars, X-cars, etc were mediocre crap best forgotten. It was the low point of modern GM history.

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Nothing personal, Enzl - but were you in the 'biz in the early '80s? I drove a parts truck for a major parts distributor in '81 and hung out with a lot of car guys. I witnessed a 240Z going up on a hoist and the wheels staying on the ground, due to rust. I talked to taxi drivers (when I was concierge in a major hotel) who had taken delivery of the first K-cars - they were thrilled with the roominess and gas mileage. (Remember, adjusted for inflation, '81 had higher gas prices than NOW.) My ex had a '81 Tercel: the pure definition of &#036;h&#33;.

I will concede the X-cars were total crap. I worked at a Pontiac-Buick-Cadillac dealer then and saw the sheer numbers of Citations, Pheonixes, etc. being brought in for warranty work.

You are right about one thing, though: the media were and are a bunch of sheep. Just as they gushed over ever junk heap the Big 3 produced in the '80s they now squeal like school girls over every turd Japan builds.

I'm a few years younger than you, however, my first car was a 72 Dart (xcellent car), my 2nd, a 78 Nova (ran forever, poorly) and a 78 Celica followed those....there's no doubt that Japan had alot to learn about rust-roofing at that time...but, as usual, the zeal to prove me wrong loses the entire point---the 240Z is a classic now-&-the K-car a sad punchline along with its progeny---only the birth of the minivan saves the K from complete, X-car-like excrement status.

Detroit let the lead slip away--whether you point at an X -car, the tired design of a current W or the bleatings of the sheep rubber stamping Red Ink Rick--it all stems from a failed culture of greed, myopic decision-making and fear of risk.

Again, quibble around the edges, try to poke holes in the minutia of my postings, but the fact is that the current US 3 are under siege---and the men they have in charge are simply not equipped, not trained, not experienced enough to right the ship.

How in the world can a gang given a 50 yd. lead in a 100 yd. dash lose a race? How do they still have jobs?

Times of great trial require great men to lead. Please don't tell me we're clinging to R.I.Rick as the savior of this ship.

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The honda & audi were also in the comparison field with the BMW. I didn't pick 'em, but the fact remains the J-car outran the beemer in the slalom & equalled it on the skidpad, FWD and all. BMW may have felt better (not that they said so), but it fell well behind in instrumented handling testing (it was noticably quicker than the Cim, tho).

Contrary to fortune cookie research, BMW was NOT traditionally at the head of the class WRT performance/handling all the way back to when the brand was first founded. I know, I know; OMG! OHNOZ! THE F'ING BLAZFEMY !?!!

Suck it.

Ever hear the term 'Hindsight is 20/20?' For the record, Mr.Yates (a C&D staff member on and off in the 80's) wrote his book in '83...and made some fairly clear assertions that the J car sucked.

As for C&D's editorial backbone, I can only assume that the BMW's status as the granddaddy of the RWD sport sedan set, the Audi's perennial status as an interior master and the Honda Accord's near spotless run on C&D's '10 Best' list are mere footnotes in this argument.

If it makes you feel better, the J still clearly inspires some of GM's efforts, even today.

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I was a teenager in the '80s..I knew then that J cars and most FWD GMs were crap...I drove RWD then (5.0 Mustang), still prefer RWD today..

Then I only have a couple of years or so on you then, perhaps a decade. (I'm 52) My flaw as I perceive it is that I truly never grew up. The 80's were more or less 'my' decade, my life being intertwined with the rise n' fall of GM and leading to where I and GM are, still entwined (ruefully)...

So as I watch the continuing ebb and flow of the financial markets, the auto industry and politics simultaneously it gives me pause as to how some differences regarding cars built a quarter of a century ago can still inspire conflicting passions today. I love going back in time and those X's and J's were well-received in their time. A few venerable examples still ply the highways. I had a 1982 Chevy Citation X-11 in Redwood Metallic. That thing took corners like no one's business. I traded that on a 1985 Pontiac Fiero GT in August of 1985 and while the appearance and presentation of the Fiero was stunning, she couldn't hold the road as well as her X-Bodied relative. The rear drive Fiero basically had an X-Body front-drive moved to the rear, minus the steering componentry of course. Still I loved it for several years and gradually grew into my pick-up truck phase beginning with the stunning redesign of GM's C/K trucks unleashed to stunning success in April of '87. Memories are still fairly vivid...

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Then I only have a couple of years or so on you then, perhaps a decade. (I'm 52) My flaw as I perceive it is that I truly never grew up. The 80's were more or less 'my' decade, my life being intertwined with the rise n' fall of GM and leading to where I and GM are, still entwined (ruefully)...

I'm 38..I remember seeing the early '80s X-cars and J-cars as rusted out beaters by the late '80s..they didn't last in the Rust Belt...the GM's I liked in the '80s were the F-,G-,B-, and C-bodies... lots of F- and G- bodies (and some B-'s) in my high school...

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I'm 38..I remember seeing the early '80s X-cars and J-cars as rusted out beaters by the late '80s..they didn't last in the Rust Belt...the GM's I liked in the '80s were the F-,G-,B-, and C-bodies... lots of F- and G- bodies (and some B-'s) in my high school...

Well, this view of yours contradicts my remembrances of Xs and Js of that vintage soldiering on well into the 90's here in the frozen North. Just my take you see. See you, I'm heading off to hit the sack.

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I've actually seen 3 Cimarrons on the road in the last 2 years. I haven't seen an '80s honda in about a decade, IIRC.

Moltar- if you recall rusted out J-cars by the late '80s, surely you remember the mandated recall of hondas for severe body rot... you're just not mentioning it here because... ummm... why again ??

My buddy had an early '80s honda- it ran fine but he had to literally junk it because it was so hopelessly horribly rotted (this would've been in the early '90s). Never before or since have I seen a car of that limited vintage rot so badly. These cars literally rusted on the lot.

moltar- >>"Believe what you want to believe.... anyway you look at it, the Cimmaron was a pathetic excuse for a Cadillac. The J-cars, X-cars, etc were mediocre crap best forgotten. It was the low point of modern GM history."<<

Again; your noose is too tight - the 1980s were mediocre crap best forgotten (generally- there were a very few exceptions). But it's neither my experience or belief... I merely present the 'expert' opinions RE the class leaders, primarily via instrumented testing.

Do you commonly assess a degree of 'belief' when reading magazine road test results, filtered thru a preconceived notion of how they should fare? I know I do (assess the credibility of the 'journalist'), didn't think many others did. I provide these impressions for 'you all', I'm not looking to be convinced.

In fact, I do agree with one thing you stated; the Cimarron WAS a poor excude for a "Cadillac" - I hated it when it came out (but I am a traditionalist, if you did not know :rolleyes: ). God- the Seville was a mere 6 years earlier. But to most accounts of the day (if that sort of thing carries weight for you), CMCD did a very good job on it relative to the competition, esp in light that Cadillac entered the program in the "11th hour".

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Ever hear the term 'Hindsight is 20/20?' For the record, Mr.Yates (a C&D staff member on and off in the 80's) wrote his book in '83...and made some fairly clear assertions that the J car sucked.

As for C&D's editorial backbone, I can only assume that the BMW's status as the granddaddy of the RWD sport sedan set, the Audi's perennial status as an interior master and the Honda Accord's near spotless run on C&D's '10 Best' list are mere footnotes in this argument.

If it makes you feel better, the J still clearly inspires some of GM's efforts, even today.

Are we talking Cimarron here, or Cavalier? If you would put the Cavalier in the same class as an Audi, that's not even revisionist history, that's nuts. You gotta stack the Datsun 210s, the Civics and the Cavaliers together. GM had nothing to be ashamed of with the original J-cars. It was the later cars that didn't improve enough while the Japanese finally figured out what Americans wanted in a small car. That is the legacy that Smith and his cronies left behind: their clear disdain for small cars.

BMers were funky and ugly until the early '80s. So were most Mercedes. RWD has always shown up disproportionately at Barrett-Jackson & others, so to point out that a 240Z is a collectors items while a Cimarron is not is disengenous at best.

I worked at a Caddy dealer when the Cimarron sold well. Yeah, even as a 21 year old kid I could tell it was a glorified Cavalier, but driving the snot out of the car (as we 'lot lizards' did), the Cimarron was actually an okay ride.

For the record, when I worked at the Plaza II Hotel here, the cars I looked forward to driving the MOST were the Devilles and the Fleetwood Broughams of that era. I loathed the BMWs and Mercedes: stiff steering and suspension, smelly diesels. The Lincolns and Rolls/Bentleys of the day were too mushy.

The Mercury Zephyr/Ford Fairmonts were true turds of their day. The head chef drove a Fairmont wagon and I hated parking it. The Ford Granada was a neat little package. A girl I dated in highschool (yes, a girl) drove her mother's. The Omega was the only X-car I would have been caught dead in, although a friend of mine bought a Citation X-11 in mint condition a few years ago and it wasn't nearly as ugly as I remember the other Citations being.

Our biases are based on what we grew up with. My stepfather bought a Datsun 510 in '82. It was a 5 spd stick with those funny louvers on the hatch. It was actually an okay car to drive, but the entire thing rusted out in about 5 years. My mother was still driving their '80 Ford Econoline long after the Datsun died.

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I've actually seen 3 Cimarrons on the road in the last 2 years. I haven't seen an '80s honda in about a decade, IIRC.

Moltar- if you recall rusted out J-cars by the late '80s, surely you remember the mandated recall of hondas for severe body rot... you're just not mentioning it here because... ummm... why again ??

My buddy had an early '80s honda- it ran fine but he had to literally junk it because it was so hopelessly horribly rotted (this would've been in the early '90s). Never before or since have I seen a car of that limited vintage rot so badly. These cars literally rusted on the lot.

moltar- >>"Believe what you want to believe.... anyway you look at it, the Cimmaron was a pathetic excuse for a Cadillac. The J-cars, X-cars, etc were mediocre crap best forgotten. It was the low point of modern GM history."<<

Again; your noose is too tight - the 1980s were mediocre crap best forgotten (generally- there were a very few exceptions). But it's neither my experience or belief... I merely present the 'expert' opinions RE the class leaders, primarily via instrumented testing.

Do you commonly assess a degree of 'belief' when reading magazine road test results, filtered thru a preconceived notion of how they should fare? I know I do (assess the credibility of the 'journalist'), didn't think many others did. I provide these impressions for 'you all', I'm not looking to be convinced.

In fact, I do agree with one thing you stated; the Cimarron WAS a poor excude for a "Cadillac" - I hated it when it came out (but I am a traditionalist, if you did not know :rolleyes: ). God- the Seville was a mere 6 years earlier. But to most accounts of the day (if that sort of thing carries weight for you), CMCD did a very good job on it relative to the competition, esp in light that Cadillac entered the program in the "11th hour".

That reminds me of the fight between Jim Kenzie and Bob Lutz about 5 years ago. The Toyota Star wrote a scathing piece on the 'new' Grand Prix. I wish I'd kept it, but they really harped on it. So, Lutz called up Jim Kenzie (who writes for a lot of the car mags up here in the hinterland) and challenged him to a duel: bring any import you want in the same price range to GM's testing grounds. Kenzie brought the (then) new Maxima. They both drove it around the proving grounds and the Pontiac wiped the asphalt with the Nissan. Jim Kenzie printed a huge retraction in the Star; even Laurence Yap (a real import humper) printed a mea culpa, saying that 'we car journalist types sometimes have pre-conceived notions before going into a test.' Yeah, right. Tell me something I didn't know!

Back on topic, I think most of us agree that the '80s are best forgotten. I could print an entire page of woes from my two (new) cars of the '80s: a '82 Dodge Rampage, followed by a '87 Dodge Shadow ES. Both pure crap. But I am wise enough to know that I would not judge MoPar of later years, based on my experiences with those 2 cars.

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I was the (proud) owner of a 1989 Skyhawk.....flip-up lights, 5-speed, 2.0L OHV FI, "T" package with "Shelby" aluminum wheels.......and I did drive the car for 84,000 miles with nary a problem....didn't even replace the clutch in that time.

I sold it and got into a brand new '91 Saturn SL1.

Even in the Saturn, the level of interior fit-and-finish, materials used, seating comfort, not to mention the superior (if low on power) OHC L4 (I had the base SL1 motor) was a far step ahead of the j-body Skyhawk I had in many areas of design, ergonomics, etc.

I didn't have the Saturn long enough to judge long-term reliability......but in that day, even the Saturn was far closer to the (increasingly better) import competition than the Skyhawk ever was.....

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I was the (proud) owner of a 1989 Skyhawk.....flip-up lights, 5-speed, 2.0L OHV FI, "T" package with "Shelby" aluminum wheels.......and I did drive the car for 84,000 miles with nary a problem....didn't even replace the clutch in that time.

I sold it and got into a brand new '91 Saturn SL1.

Even in the Saturn, the level of interior fit-and-finish, materials used, seating comfort, not to mention the superior (if low on power) OHC L4 (I had the base SL1 motor) was a far step ahead of the j-body Skyhawk I had in many areas of design, ergonomics, etc.

I didn't have the Saturn long enough to judge long-term reliability......but in that day, even the Saturn was far closer to the (increasingly better) import competition than the Skyhawk ever was.....

And that is where your SL1 was aimed.

Lot of debate within the ranks at the time re: Saturn. I knew GM would be loathe to see it fail through the early years. I like the entire line-up of Saturn currently and silently rebuke myself for not buying the Aura last year over the G6 GTP.

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And that is where your SL1 was aimed.

Lot of debate within the ranks at the time re: Saturn. I knew GM would be loathe to see it fail through the early years. I like the entire line-up of Saturn currently and silently rebuke myself for not buying the Aura last year over the G6 GTP.

I'm kinda under the assumption that Saturn would be a far greater asset if they had stuck to their guns relative to Saturn's independence, marketing, product design, and overall culture.

I think "rolling" it into the GM corporate umbrella was a mistake.

Think where Saturn would be today if GM had kept it's mission true and devoted the dollars to it in order to keep the cars as competitive as they were when they first came out.....

When's the last time any of us heard of a "Saturn Reunion?"

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I'm kinda under the assumption that Saturn would be a far greater asset if they had stuck to their guns relative to Saturn's independence, marketing, product design, and overall culture.

I think "rolling" it into the GM corporate umbrella was a mistake.

Think where Saturn would be today if GM had kept it's mission true and devoted the dollars to it in order to keep the cars as competitive as they were when they first came out.....

When's the last time any of us heard of a "Saturn Reunion?"

My sentiments too. I can't recall precisely when it was, but the initiative seems to have come undone when Wilmington was assigned the task of building the 'L' car.

With all that is transpiring and that which is still in flux I wonder how Saturn will weather it all. In the end, assuming GM fully rights itself, I could easily see the North American market resembling Europe where no single manufacturer captures no more than 20% of it all.

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I'm kinda under the assumption that Saturn would be a far greater asset if they had stuck to their guns relative to Saturn's independence, marketing, product design, and overall culture.

I think "rolling" it into the GM corporate umbrella was a mistake.

Think where Saturn would be today if GM had kept it's mission true and devoted the dollars to it in order to keep the cars as competitive as they were when they first came out.....

When's the last time any of us heard of a "Saturn Reunion?"

Given ten more years, Saturn, Scion, Suzuki and a few other carmaking names will be gone or irrelevant.

Chris

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Given ten more years, Saturn, Scion, Suzuki and a few other carmaking names will be gone or irrelevant.

Chris

Hmmmm......well Suzuki is a tough one because their motorcycle, RV, and marine engine divisions (in the U.S.) are still doing quite well. Time will tell if they shutter the auto division here though.....

I think one way or another, Scion will continue to exist.

As far as Saturn, for right or for wrong, I could see GM keeping Saturn around alot more than something like Pontiac. Like others have mentioned in here, with more-and-more dealers consolidating BPG, it would be easier to pull the plug on "just" the Pontiac portion of that distribution channel than it would be to do an entire "Oldsmobile" with a division like Saturn that has a country-wide network of independent dealerships with no other franchises attached.........

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Are we talking Cimarron here, or Cavalier? If you would put the Cavalier in the same class as an Audi, that's not even revisionist history, that's nuts. You gotta stack the Datsun 210s, the Civics and the Cavaliers together. GM had nothing to be ashamed of with the original J-cars. It was the later cars that didn't improve enough while the Japanese finally figured out what Americans wanted in a small car. That is the legacy that Smith and his cronies left behind: their clear disdain for small cars.

BMers were funky and ugly until the early '80s. So were most Mercedes. RWD has always shown up disproportionately at Barrett-Jackson & others, so to point out that a 240Z is a collectors items while a Cimarron is not is disengenous at best.

I worked at a Caddy dealer when the Cimarron sold well. Yeah, even as a 21 year old kid I could tell it was a glorified Cavalier, but driving the snot out of the car (as we 'lot lizards' did), the Cimarron was actually an okay ride.

For the record, when I worked at the Plaza II Hotel here, the cars I looked forward to driving the MOST were the Devilles and the Fleetwood Broughams of that era. I loathed the BMWs and Mercedes: stiff steering and suspension, smelly diesels. The Lincolns and Rolls/Bentleys of the day were too mushy.

The Mercury Zephyr/Ford Fairmonts were true turds of their day. The head chef drove a Fairmont wagon and I hated parking it. The Ford Granada was a neat little package. A girl I dated in highschool (yes, a girl) drove her mother's. The Omega was the only X-car I would have been caught dead in, although a friend of mine bought a Citation X-11 in mint condition a few years ago and it wasn't nearly as ugly as I remember the other Citations being.

Our biases are based on what we grew up with. My stepfather bought a Datsun 510 in '82. It was a 5 spd stick with those funny louvers on the hatch. It was actually an okay car to drive, but the entire thing rusted out in about 5 years. My mother was still driving their '80 Ford Econoline long after the Datsun died.

I was referring to the Cimmaron----with all due respect, there isn't a Caddy of that era that holds a candle to the 240Z in significance...that's all I was trying to say.

The RWD Germans of the time set the stage (along with the Audi quattros) for what was to come...almost all legitimate entry level lux contenders today are RWD with AWD as an option, so the Germans were on to something, albeit each had flaws that wouldn't see the light of day in today's market, just as Honda began its long journey to market dominance with its Civic & Accord models that remain the real winners amongst its current product--I have less regard for the variations on these platforms, but that's where the market has taken them, for better or worse.

The way I see it, the Japanese and Germans cracked the market with their 80's product in a big way--and the Det3 only reinforce that notion since their product has moved towards the competition, rather than the other way around.

We're in interesting times, my friends...

Edited by enzl
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That reminds me of the fight between Jim Kenzie and Bob Lutz about 5 years ago. The Toyota Star wrote a scathing piece on the 'new' Grand Prix. I wish I'd kept it, but they really harped on it. So, Lutz called up Jim Kenzie (who writes for a lot of the car mags up here in the hinterland) and challenged him to a duel: bring any import you want in the same price range to GM's testing grounds. Kenzie brought the (then) new Maxima. They both drove it around the proving grounds and the Pontiac wiped the asphalt with the Nissan. Jim Kenzie printed a huge retraction in the Star; even Laurence Yap (a real import humper) printed a mea culpa, saying that 'we car journalist types sometimes have pre-conceived notions before going into a test.' Yeah, right. Tell me something I didn't know!

Back on topic, I think most of us agree that the '80s are best forgotten. I could print an entire page of woes from my two (new) cars of the '80s: a '82 Dodge Rampage, followed by a '87 Dodge Shadow ES. Both pure crap. But I am wise enough to know that I would not judge MoPar of later years, based on my experiences with those 2 cars.

Here is the original review Kenzie wrote about the Grand Prix pre-Lutz intervention.

http://www.wheels.ca/article/28664

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CARBIZ- are you sure Kenzie's is the review you are thinking of? There was one by Dan O'Neil ('Neil' ??) that referred to the GP's grilles as 'Hitler's moustache', and then things really got bad. I read the Kenzie link above- it is nothing really bad and nothing compared to O'Neil's, which tripped over it's own outmoded cliches, and that is the one I recall Lutz challenging the writer on and arranging the head-to-head w/ the maxima and some others. Correct me if I am wrong...

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The J-cars were a Joke, but sadly the FWD-is-the-silver-bullet

mentality of the 1980s is still with GM, amongst a lot of other

backwards thinking and poor decision making.

Keep outsourcing America, soon no one in the US will be able to afford anything, if it's not already to late. :nono:

Agreed. Strange that you say that, being such a masochist otherwise.

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>>"...there isn't a Caddy of that era that holds a candle to the 240Z in significance...that's all I was trying to say."<<

Well, as the 240Z came out in '70, I would easily put the '67 Eldorado up against the z in the broad category of "significance". It elevated the personal luxury coupe to it's then-zenith, was an engineering & stylistic (completely unique here) tour de force, and was nearly as quick as the Z despite being over double it's weight (16.5 @ 83 vs 17.2 @ 81). It lags the z in collector value, but I've been puzzled for years as to exactly why this era E is where it is. They are far more common that earlier 'E's...

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>>"...there isn't a Caddy of that era that holds a candle to the 240Z in significance...that's all I was trying to say."<<

Well, as the 240Z came out in '70, I would easily put the '67 Eldorado up against the z in the broad category of "significance". It elevated the personal luxury coupe to it's then-zenith, was an engineering & stylistic (completely unique here) tour de force, and was nearly as quick as the Z despite being over double it's weight (16.5 @ 83 vs 17.2 @ 81). It lags the z in collector value, but I've been puzzled for years as to exactly why this era E is where it is. They are far more common that earlier 'E's...

Fair enough. I was making a 70's reference--and there's simply nothing Caddy intro'ed after '67 that will have the impact that the Z had in its' day---and little to suggest collectors will flock to a mostly misbegotten collection of mediocrity--The original Seville? The 'last' American 'vert (Eldo)? are the only 'maybes' in the whole rotten bunch.

One of GM's gravest errors, IMO, was allowing Caddy to slide into punchline territory. Instead of having wonderful, leading edge tech to trickle-down they merely followed their worst instincts and pimped a bunch of crap with shiny wrappers.

The current CTS-V might break the string--but that's a hell of a long time to be mired in almost complete awfulness.

Edited by enzl
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Well, IMO you are grossly overstating ("bunch of crap") : mercedes was scrambling to boost power, performance & amenities as Cadillac climbed to dizzying marketshare and nearly 400K in sales by the late '70s.

In the late '60s the mainstream mercedes sedan was undersized, underpowered (82 MPH from a gas 6??) and under-equipped. I've seen mid-late '60s MBs up close: tinny & spartan- 1 step removed from a Beetle. They learned a great great deal at the feet of the then-master... yet strangely, no one knocks mercedes of the period as being woefully uncompetitive with the market.

BTW- the Seville absolutely had a much larger impact in it's segment (at least from the other domestics, but not just there) than the z did in its, but '76 is straying from your implied circa 1970 era. But there's no 'maybe' about the Seville.

According to the press (if you value stranger's opinions in this fashion), the CTS absolutely breaks your 'string'.

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Well, IMO you are grossly overstating ("bunch of crap") : mercedes was scrambling to boost power, performance & amenities as Cadillac climbed to dizzying marketshare and nearly 400K in sales by the late '70s.

In the late '60s the mainstream mercedes sedan was undersized, underpowered (82 MPH from a gas 6??) and under-equipped. I've seen mid-late '60s MBs up close: tinny & spartan- 1 step removed from a Beetle. They learned a great great deal at the feet of the then-master... yet strangely, no one knocks mercedes of the period as being woefully uncompetitive with the market.

BTW- the Seville absolutely had a much larger impact in it's segment (at least from the other domestics, but not just there) than the z did in its, but '76 is straying from your implied circa 1970 era. But there's no 'maybe' about the Seville.

According to the press (if you value stranger's opinions in this fashion), the CTS absolutely breaks your 'string'.

M-B's were spartan, under-equipped & slow (mostly) in the 60's, but they were built like vaults---the 70's Caddy's were fancy Chevy's & other proletarian underpinnings with lots of frosting...only the Seville and the last US 'vert could arguably make any car-guys cut, IMO.

The CTS, assuming it stands the test of time, has every possible chance, but the CTS-V is the lone product that is an absolute home-run, a 'Standard of the World' product that roars out of the box.

Either way, that's a skimpy resume to present as a 'premium' automaker. Think of all the great product that BMW, MB, and Audi have intro'ed in that timeframe---even Infiniti's original Q or Lexus' segment defining RX can lay claim to setting a trend or just being a major bad-ass product. If the current CTS and the first Seville is what Caddy is bringing to this party, they're simply underdressed.

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Well, being a 'car guy' and having driven most of the cars we are yakking about when they were new, I have to say any of the Datsun Z cars are not in the same category as a Caddy of the same era. Even the Eldorado, after it's downsizing, catered to a different market. In my valet days, I much preferred the late '70s/early '80s DeVilles, Fleetwoods, etc over their contemporary MB or BMers. That was just my opinion then as a young 20-something who got to drive all the luxury marques of the day.

Cadillac in particular made two big mistakes in that era: the 8-6-4 debacle and the horrid late '80s Devilles, etc.

The other problem Cadillac began to have is not something that they had any control over - namely, not building cars that the self-appointed experts liked.

Enzl, you yourself pointed out that the CTS-V is the only 'worthy' Cadillac these days. Says who? Who the f$%k needs a car that goes that fast and will attract that many tickets? Only a 60 year old will be able to afford the insurance - and those guys will just look silly in the car. Cadillac wasn't supposed to compete with Ferrari, but now they must to be considered 'worthy.'

The trouble is the 30-something year olds write the car mags and they declare what they like or don't like. We can thank them for the past 15 years wasted on the pursuit of horsepower once again, instead of fuel mileage.

And why wouldn't the Datsun 'Z' cars be more 'desirable' at the auctions? They didn't sell as many as Cadillac did. Any cursory glance on eBay will produce pages and pages of late '60s/early '70s Cadillacs still on the road and available - that alone will determine the ultimate selling price.

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>>"M-B's were spartan, under-equipped & slow (mostly) in the 60's, but they were built like vaults---the 70's Caddy's were fancy Chevy's & other proletarian underpinnings with lots of frosting...only the Seville and the last US 'vert could arguably make any car-guys cut, IMO."<<

You have been misled. '70s Cadillacs had nothing to do with Chevrolets- neither on top nor in the underpinnings; the closest product to your theory would be the original Seville, but even there physical sharing only runs about 10%. The 'E', of course, shared it's underpinnings with the Toronado, but nothing from Chevy. And Cadillacs of this period were also overbuilt and very solid.

Thing of it is RE mercedes - there's just not much to stress a structure when 82MPH is all you can muster, and the 'luxury' car in question, with options, weighs but 3000 lbs. From pics, the interior door latches & window cranks (!) are dead ringers for VW's. Comparitively, it's quite pathetic, really (the largely intangible of body structure aside).

I don't see a lot of "great" product from the german brands in the '70s at all- so they don't pale Cadillac in comparison, IMO. Mercedes had a long dry spell between the '55 gullwing and a creeping return to relevence in the late '70s. Oh; not saying neccesarily it was bad product- just not 'resume-fluffing'. BMW had 1 car of note in it's history up to & including the 2002, then not much else there until the '80s 3-series. Add in the lacking luxury and performance aspects of the later 2 inbetween these periods and you don't have much of a platform of 'greatness' to stand on.

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Anything small in the late 70s and early 80s was pure crap. The rest of the cars were just ok at best.

In the 70s, anything from Japan was purchased either because it 1) was cheap as hell to buy or 2) was cheap as hell to fuel. The cars themselves were very basic, low quality,rust -prone, slow, weak-sructured pieces of utter crap that people literally laughed at.

By the mid 80s, they were several orders of magnitude better cars. However, they were still prone to extensive rust and the gradual failure of most electrical components.

Japanese cars never really were worth a crap until the late 80s.

By that time, Detroit had shot itself in both feet... several times.

I see the late 70's and 80s this way: Japan had no place to go but up, and Detroit had no place to go but down.

A sad set of circumstances.

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Well, being a 'car guy' and having driven most of the cars we are yakking about when they were new, I have to say any of the Datsun Z cars are not in the same category as a Caddy of the same era. Even the Eldorado, after it's downsizing, catered to a different market. In my valet days, I much preferred the late '70s/early '80s DeVilles, Fleetwoods, etc over their contemporary MB or BMers. That was just my opinion then as a young 20-something who got to drive all the luxury marques of the day.

Cadillac in particular made two big mistakes in that era: the 8-6-4 debacle and the horrid late '80s Devilles, etc.

The other problem Cadillac began to have is not something that they had any control over - namely, not building cars that the self-appointed experts liked.

Enzl, you yourself pointed out that the CTS-V is the only 'worthy' Cadillac these days. Says who? Who the f$%k needs a car that goes that fast and will attract that many tickets? Only a 60 year old will be able to afford the insurance - and those guys will just look silly in the car. Cadillac wasn't supposed to compete with Ferrari, but now they must to be considered 'worthy.'

The trouble is the 30-something year olds write the car mags and they declare what they like or don't like. We can thank them for the past 15 years wasted on the pursuit of horsepower once again, instead of fuel mileage.

And why wouldn't the Datsun 'Z' cars be more 'desirable' at the auctions? They didn't sell as many as Cadillac did. Any cursory glance on eBay will produce pages and pages of late '60s/early '70s Cadillacs still on the road and available - that alone will determine the ultimate selling price.

Other than frosting, what really separated a 70's Caddy and its tech and the similarly sized Chevy, Buick or Olds? BOF, carbs and compromised FI systems? Power trunklids? Tufted leather and nice plood?

The German cars of the time brought SOHC/DOHC, unibody construction, safety advances and, most importantly, they set a trend in what defined & constituted lux products that continue today....where are the BOF land-barges with solid rear axles gone? ---they're called pick-ups, nowadays.

The current CTS-V will be a classic--and current CTS is a real competitor to the German/Japanese entry lux onslaught. The 70's Caddy was an evolutionary deadend. That's simply fact, whether mag writers liked them or not.

The 240Z is more than just rare--it's representative of a new way of thinking for the Japanese at the time---creating a better mousetrap that continues today with their lux forays and hybrid frontrunning.

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>>"M-B's were spartan, under-equipped & slow (mostly) in the 60's, but they were built like vaults---the 70's Caddy's were fancy Chevy's & other proletarian underpinnings with lots of frosting...only the Seville and the last US 'vert could arguably make any car-guys cut, IMO."<<

You have been misled. '70s Cadillacs had nothing to do with Chevrolets- neither on top nor in the underpinnings; the closest product to your theory would be the original Seville, but even there physical sharing only runs about 10%. The 'E', of course, shared it's underpinnings with the Toronado, but nothing from Chevy. And Cadillacs of this period were also overbuilt and very solid.

Thing of it is RE mercedes - there's just not much to stress a structure when 82MPH is all you can muster, and the 'luxury' car in question, with options, weighs but 3000 lbs. From pics, the interior door latches & window cranks (!) are dead ringers for VW's. Comparitively, it's quite pathetic, really (the largely intangible of body structure aside).

I don't see a lot of "great" product from the german brands in the '70s at all- so they don't pale Cadillac in comparison, IMO. Mercedes had a long dry spell between the '55 gullwing and a creeping return to relevence in the late '70s. Oh; not saying neccesarily it was bad product- just not 'resume-fluffing'. BMW had 1 car of note in it's history up to & including the 2002, then not much else there until the '80s 3-series. Add in the lacking luxury and performance aspects of the later 2 inbetween these periods and you don't have much of a platform of 'greatness' to stand on.

Technically, you're correct about 70's Caddy's--but you and I both know that there were no significant real differences. No unibody construction, no engine advancements, no trickledown to give---other than electric doodads---what did Caddy do then that really matters today? Where was the art of car building advanced?

It's not that the Germans were so great, its that GM stood still. Rested on questionable laurels and let its marketplace dominance slip. We're both grading on a curve here--as others have said, the 70's were not the pinnacle of car designing and building--but almost all that ills GM today can be traced to this period.

Edited by enzl
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Technically, you're correct about 70's Caddy's--but you and I both know that there were no significant real differences. No unibody construction, no engine advancements, no trickledown to give---other than electric doodads---what did Caddy do then that really matters today? Where was the art of car building advanced?

It's not that the Germans were so great, its that GM stood still. Rested on questionable laurels and let its marketplace dominance slip. We're both grading on a curve here--as others have said, the 70's were not the pinnacle of car designing and building--but almost all that ills GM today can be traced to this period.

The way I look at it, it was a huge difference in philosophy and contexts for the products...in the '70s-80s, Cadillac was very old-school, building old-time soft, quiet, flashy American traditional luxury cars--much as they had been building in the '50s, while the Germans were building very modern, very serious, sober luxury cars that were more about solidity, performance, and driving experience...two very different approaches to luxury. Differences in realities. As far as Cadillac of today, the DTS and Escalade (even though it's a truck) are in the old-school tradition while the CTS is more towards the German approach.

As an aside, Balthy's posts always crack me up, he reminds me of a know-it-all, grumpy 75 yr old guy that's always whining about the young kids of today and how things were better in 1950 or whatever... I am surprised that he's apparently in his '40s..seems much older from his posts.

Edited by moltar
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>>"Technically, you're correct about 70's Caddy's--but you and I both know that there were no significant real differences."<<

Not in construction techniques perhaps, but if that's your criteria of reference, why not just say 'Cadillacs of the '70s were nothing more than shiny Fords or Plymouths' ?? The bottom line is your post attempted to portray '70s Cadillacs as simplistic rebadged Chevys, whether you spelled that out exactly or not. That sort of BS is not going to fly; be straight.

>>"No unibody construction, no engine advancements, no trickledown to give---other than electric doodads---what did Caddy do then that really matters today? Where was the art of car building advanced?"<<

These things mercedes had earlier than the '70s. MB had unit-body construction in the '50s, tho they were far from the first: Nash, Chrysler, Lancia, Opel all had it earlier still.

So what was mercedes' advancements during the '70s? Were they just 'shiny Nashes'?

They sat on their laurels, too, by your definition.

-- -- -- -- --

>>"As an aside, Balthy's posts always crack me up, he reminds me of a know-it-all, grumpy 75 yr old guy that's always whining about the young kids of today and how things were better in 1950 or whatever... I am surprised that he's apparently in his '40s..seems much older from his posts."<<

And as to your posts, sir; they always remind me of a wide-eyed idealistic teenager, whinnying about how NEW!! and BETTER!! really is the be-all, end-all just because the box sez so, and whining about how yesterday is so 'yesterday' and nothing from last week is worth a cup of spit... I am surprized you are coming hard up on 40 when you seem much, much, much younger from your posts. :P :P :P

I'm only a couple years ahead of you moltie, but I've observed & been keenly interested in a great many elements of the past throughout my life, so I have a plethora of first-hand impressions to draw conclusions from RE 'then' vs 'now', most esp. about automobiles, but hardly limited to that.

Car-wise; there's a TON more case studies out there other than '69 'stangs.

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Anything small in the late 70s and early 80s was pure crap. The rest of the cars were just ok at best.

In the 70s, anything from Japan was purchased either because it 1) was cheap as hell to buy or 2) was cheap as hell to fuel. The cars themselves were very basic, low quality,rust -prone, slow, weak-sructured pieces of utter crap that people literally laughed at.

By the mid 80s, they were several orders of magnitude better cars. However, they were still prone to extensive rust and the gradual failure of most electrical components.

Japanese cars never really were worth a crap until the late 80s.

By that time, Detroit had shot itself in both feet... several times.

I see the late 70's and 80s this way: Japan had no place to go but up, and Detroit had no place to go but down.

A sad set of circumstances.

+1

One thing that those who didn't live it don't understand is that a 83 hp, carburated 4-banger, mated to a 3 speed slushbox of the day (which is what MOST Americans and Canadians demanded), were fairly anemic to drive and not that great an improvement on fuel mileage. Of course the Japanese cars suffered the same fate, too, but far more of them were sold with 4 and 5 speed manual trannies that masked the horrid power of the smaller engines.

Case in point, when my father traded in his '69 Chrysler 300 for a '76 Ford LTD, he was horrified at how much less power the vehicle had, yet the gas mileage wasn't significantly different. Detuned, more pollution control - Detroit began pissing off its loyal customers - especially those who didn't understand why their '83 Citation was gutless and underpowered, compared to the '72 Cutlass being traded in.

When I drove my step-father's '79 Datsun 510 (with a 5 spd stick), it felt almost as peppy as my '67 Polara that had a 318, but the gas mileage was significantly better than my car. Then again, 12 years is a very long time in the car business!

Still, Japanese cars didn't impress me much then - nor do they today.

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-- -- -- -- --

>>"As an aside, Balthy's posts always crack me up, he reminds me of a know-it-all, grumpy 75 yr old guy that's always whining about the young kids of today and how things were better in 1950 or whatever... I am surprised that he's apparently in his '40s..seems much older from his posts."<<

And as to your posts, sir; they always remind me of a wide-eyed idealistic teenager, whinnying about how NEW!! and BETTER!! really is the be-all, end-all just because the box sez so, and whining about how yesterday is so 'yesterday' and nothing from last week is worth a cup of spit... I am surprized you are coming hard up on 40 when you seem much, much, much younger from your posts. :P :P :P

It's a side effect of working in the computer industry..I'm always looking forward, not dwelling on or in the past...the past is gone..I'm living for today and tommorow. The tech industry tends to lead to idealism, a belief that anything is possible with effort. It's also one of the reasons I'm a liberal (progressive, open-minded, looking to the future) and not a conservative (looking backward, bound by tradition, stuck in the past).. :)

Anyway, it's all moot...GM has made mistakes in the past, as have other automakers. More importantly, where are they going now? What's GM going to look like in 5 years?

Edited by moltar
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It's a side effect of working in the computer industry..I'm always looking forward, not dwelling on or in the past...the past is gone..I'm living for today and tommorow. The tech industry tends to lead to idealism, a belief that anything is possible with effort. It's also one of the reasons I'm a liberal (progressive, open-minded, looking to the future) and not a conservative (looking backward, bound by tradition, stuck in the past).. :)

Anyway, it's all moot...GM has made mistakes in the past, as have other automakers. More importantly, where are they going now? What's GM going to look like in 5 years?

...and I find myself locked out on two accounts, because I love both the old and the new, so I seem to alienate both groups with equal passion.

Seriously, I think GM is on the right track, and I like where there products are going...in about 2003 or so I could have seen myself never buying another GM car. Right now, I'd kinda like to never be without one again.

Cobalt, I like it, the Cruze, Volt, Solstice, Sky, Aura, Malibu, Equinox is nice, Enclave is wonderful as is the Lucerne, CTS is awesome, C6-z06 is world class, G6 is a good car for its price point...

I am actually getting optomistic about the future and about GM

Chris

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...and I find myself locked out on two accounts, because I love both the old and the new, so I seem to alienate both groups with equal passion.

Seriously, I think GM is on the right track, and I like where there products are going...in about 2003 or so I could have seen myself never buying another GM car. Right now, I'd kinda like to never be without one again.

Cobalt, I like it, the Cruze, Volt, Solstice, Sky, Aura, Malibu, Equinox is nice, Enclave is wonderful as is the Lucerne, CTS is awesome, C6-z06 is world class, G6 is a good car for its price point...

I am actually getting optomistic about the future and about GM

Chris

Overall, I've been liking what I've been seeing from GM in the last 2-3 years...in the near future, I'm esp. looking forward to the CTS coupe and wagon, and the Camaro. But I worry that besides some Cadillacs and the Corvette, there won't be many (any?) RWD models in, say 5 years... I'm not really a FWD fan overall..

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Yea, but how many cars are you going to buy? You did state 'Cadillac is next', or was that someone else? If you like the CTS, why do you worry about what other cars GM has or doesn't have that you aren't interested in?

-- -- -- -- --

>>"...the past is gone..I'm living for today and tommorow."<<

The past is as gone as much as tomorrow never arrives. One's plans for tomorrow --in as much as a certain chain of events is predictable, which is to say it's not in the least-- can have as much effect & guidance on 'today' as recognizing & valuing (not "living in" :rolleyes: ) the past. In fact, the present always builds upon the past - even in your industry that must be true. The future is the only intangible of the 3.

It's all in how one looks at things. But to dismiss the past entirely is to stick one's head in the sand.

Don't get me started on your blatant stereotype of liberals/conservatives. :P

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I read C/D cover to cover many times in 80's when young car fanatic. I remember the cover of the April 1979 issue, said of the X cars "GM blows everyone into the weeds". In theory the cars were good, just the quality and locking rear brakes killed them. But then the basic car platform lasted to 1996 as the renamed 'A' car.

Also, C/D loved the Pontiac 6000 STE and even had the Caprice on its 1st "10 Best list".

And, the T and J body cars were very successfull in other countries [look 'em up]. They did OK here too, just didnt have "yuppie appeal" and were around too long.

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