Tag Archives: automobiles

Auto Sales Up: Dealers Should Thank the U.S. Government (But They Won’t)

The New York Times reported this week that “October was the best month for new-vehicle sales in more than two years, outside of the brief period in 2009 helped by government rebates.”

Sales for the auto industry were up 13.4 percent over all from a year ago.  Sales for General Motors rose 4.2 percent, sales for Ford Motor Company were up 19.3 percent, and sales for Chrysler jumped 37 percent.

General Motors’ vice president for sales, Don Johnson, was confident that the American Auto industry has recovered from the economic crisis that left them on the brink of total collapse less than two years ago; “Signs are there that the recovery continues and that it will be sustained,” said Johnson. “We don’t see a big risk at all of a double dip.”

It looks like federal intervention saved the U.S. Auto industry.  You would think that American auto dealers would be grateful — out of patriotism or self-interest or both.

Think again.

Those U.S. flags they like to wave at auto dealerships don’t mean “thank you.”

Instead of thanking the federal government, auto dealers continue to be  some of the largest contributors to far-right, anti-government Republicans, who rail against the very programs that pulled them from the brink of collapse.

This right-wing, anti-government hypocrisy on the part of auto dealers is especially true here in Orange County, where auto dealerships — like Irvine Auto Center — have often served as staging locations for Tea Party rallies, and where our local  car-salesman-in-chief, auto dealer and Congressman John Campbell, continues to blast the federal government for providing the money that kept his family auto dealership alive.

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But Baby, Obama Wants Me to Drive a Fiat X1/9

Of all the cars that I’ve owned, my favorite was a yellow and black 1975 Fiat X1/9.

fiat21Designed by Nuccio Bertone, the X1/9 was a two-seater, hardtop convertible with a mid 1489 cc. engine and a five-speed transmission.

It was beautifully styled and it handled like a dream.

It was tremendous fun driving this sleek little skateboard on the freeway.

The only real problem was the carburetor, which kept failing when it idled.

And you couldn’t get parts, except by scavenging the junkyards.

And the mechanics here in Southern California would just laugh if you asked them to fix it.

I learned to keep it going (most of the time) using a combination of toothpicks and rubber bands.

(Really).

Then my son was born.

My wife said:

The Fiat X1/9 is not a car for a parent.

There’s no room for a baby seat.

There’s no room for anything.

A sleek yellow skateboard racing down the freeway isn’t a very safe place for a child.

There are no air bags.

There isn’t much of anything between the driver and the road.

And Fiat’s reputation for unreliability doesn’t inspire the confidence that parents require.

You need a car that doesn’t require a toolkit of rubber bands and toothpicks.

So my Fiat X1/9 was abandoned for a safer, more sensible car, one that was appropriate for a “Baby On Board” sign.

My current car is a Chrysler PT Cruiser Turbo convertible.  All in all, a reliable but fun car with plenty of room for the kid, the dog, and the scout troop equipment.

But it isn’t half as much fun as the Fiat X1/9.

Over time, giving up the X1/9 came to symbolize my belated transition into adulthood and responsibility.

But now President Obama insists that my Chrysler must become a Fiat.

fiat52My son no longer needs to sit in a rear seat.

Is it time to talk to the wife about getting an X1/9 again?

Not just for me, of course.

But as a show of support for our president.

Best American Car Songs (Now with Video Links!)

pink-cadillac-car-posters

The news about the death of the U.S. auto industry has gotten me thinking about all the great music that American cars have inspired.

Here is a list of some of my favorites:

Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen)
Fun Fun Fun (Beach Boys)
Little Deuce Coupe (Beach Boys)
You Can’t Catch Me (Chuck Berry)
Brand New Cadillac (The Clash)
Mud on the Tires (Brad Paisley)
Long White Cadillac (Dave Alvin)
Mercury Blues (Alan Jackson)
Little Red Corvette (Prince)
Guitars, Cadillacs (Dwight Yoakam)
Hot Rod Lincoln (Junior Brown/Commandor Cody)
Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)
Ball and Chain (Social Distortion)
Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen)
Pontiac Blues (Sonny Boy Williamson)
Racing in the Streets (Bruce Springsteen)
Rocket 88 (Jackie Brenston with Ike Turner)
Chevrolet (Donovan)

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409 (Beach Boys)
Dead Man’s Curve (Jan and Dean)
Surf City (Beach Boys)
Blue Chevrolet (Beat Farmers)
Gun Street Girl (Tom Waits)
16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six (Tom Waits)

Feel free to add your own.

One rule:

The song must mention a particular American car or car company.