By on October 28, 2008

It was I who invented the name “Maximum Bob” for GM Car Czar Bob Lutz. That said, I also coined “Rabid Rick” for GM CEO Rick Wagoner; clearly, I should have stuck with the Buickman-perpetuated “Red Ink Rick.” John Horner, a charter member of out Best and Brightest and yeoman TTAC blogger, first mooted the moniker “American Leyland” for the federally-funded (one way or another, eventually) GM – Chrysler mash-up. But it’s a keeper. Or is it? Evan Newmark’s column over at The Wall Street Journal’s Mean Street proposes another way of characterizing the insanity to come: “GM = Government Motors.” While I’m not completely enamored by the new name, Newmark’s arguments are entirely seductive. In fact, it’s the best anti-GM bailout diatribe I’ve encountered, here or anywhere else– not that the topic is large enough to deserve a genre, yet. Anyway, I’ve excerpted some of the best bits below, and put it to you, our B&B: American Leyland or Government Motors?

“There will be only one big loser–and that’s you, the U.S. taxpayer. You will pick up the multibillion-dollar tab for the consolidation of a failed industry that should have consolidated on its own long ago… Detroit’s decline has been a slow-motion car wreck spanning four decades. GM, Ford and Chrysler have been losing domestic market share for years to Toyota Motors, Honda Motors and BMW. Who actually admires Detroit for its car-making prowess? So, bail out Wall Street and save the global economy. Bail out Detroit and save–well, Detroit…

“Let each of the Big Three do what is in the interest of its shareholders and creditors. Let them try and merge with each other–if they can. Let them each file for bankruptcy-law protection–when or if necessary. When Chrysler goes bankrupt, let GM or Ford or a foreign rival pick up Chrysler’s assets on the cheap. If GM or Ford head into bankruptcy, let the government step in–but only on punitive terms. Punitive terms? Reduce all management, worker and retiree pension and health-care benefits. Remove all union contracts. Replace senior management and the boards. Haircut the creditors and recapitalize the companies. This is the radical direction Detroit has to go in if it ever hopes to compete with Toyota or Honda.”

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60 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: American Leyland or Government Motors?...”


  • avatar

    Government Money

  • avatar
    Ed S.

    Ha, didn’t get the Leyland reference at first, but Wikipedia got me up to speed. I like American Leyland but it might be a little too elitist for the name of a good ol ‘merican auto manufacturer, don’t you think? I vote Government Motors -OR- some polysyllabic acronym ending “MAC” a la Freddie Mac.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    I’m fond of “Federal Motors” myself. There used to be a company called US Motors in my hometown but that was shutdown decades ago.

  • avatar

    Bertel Schmitt :

    See? Now THAT’S funny!

  • avatar
    billc83

    I think the looming government ‘intervention’ will parallel British Leyland nicely, so my vote goes to American Leyland.

    ‘Federal Motors’ is pretty good – we could make quips like, “Now on the FM dial!”

  • avatar
    GS650G

    We could call it AMC again

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    American Leyland is the best term to use; it makes it clear just how horrible of a policy a government bailout of the auto industry is.

    For those that are not familiar with the demise history of the British auto industry Government Motors will be easier understood, but American Leyland gets people to think, and use Wikipedia, like Ed S. above.

    And, as a matter of trivia, it looks like American Leyland was invented by jazbo123 on September 18, 2006:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/general-motors-death-watch-91-the-big-red-one/

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    GS650G: Yes, I thought of that that, too…

    BMC = British Motor Corporation
    AMC = American Motors Corporation

    Especially if GM merges with Chrysler…

  • avatar
    NickR

    AMC, absolutely, but only if it’s an acronym for:

    Automobile Manufacturing Collective

  • avatar
    autonut

    It was I who invented the name “Putz” for GM Car Czar Bob Lutz.

  • avatar

    American Leyland has the TTAC house style written all over it. We’re talkin’ mad spizzarkle.

    Kudos to the person in our B&B that came up with it.

  • avatar

    Federal Motors won’t fly.

    Federal Mogul will sue for trademark dilution.

  • avatar

    and how to forget the immortal…

    Mark LaNaive

    Bent Dover

    Board of Bystanders

    then there is of course, the ever lovin’ as Share Goes Bye…

    As Share Goes Bye
    Jim Dollinger
    Monday, January 2, 2006

    You must remember this,
    A loss is just a loss.
    The pie is still in the sky.
    Fundamental marketing does apply,
    As share goes bye.

    And when Toyota’s up by two,
    We only get Daewoo,
    On Rick Wagoner we cannot rely.
    No matter what the economy brings,
    As share goes bye.

    Rebates and confusion, way out of date,
    Execs full of themselves, ready for their fate,
    Buyers want self image, hope it’s not too late,
    For it’s that we must supply.

    It’s still the same old story,
    The flight of sales and glory,
    A case of change or die.

    The world will always respect a winner,
    As share goes bye.

    Second Verse:

    Now also remember this,
    Their ass I will not kiss.
    The numbers tell no lie.
    Good times no longer apply,
    As share goes bye.

    And when we drop another two,
    The Board will not say boo.
    On just who can we rely?
    No matter what Paul Ballew sings,
    As share goes bye.

    Plenty of new products, seen their next update.
    Execs shuffled around, really same old slate.
    Buyers shopping elsewhere, regardless of the rate.
    Competition growing stronger, that we can’t deny.

    Its really getting boring,
    Toyota and Nissan soaring,
    A case of reality defy.

    The industry is losing its leader,
    As share goes bye.

    Best played in S (as in sales) Flat.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I liked American Leyland but it’s probably too British for an American company and most people wouldn’t get it. Government Motors freaks me out it sounds like it belongs in the USSA, so I guess that is probably the right name since that is where our government is going.

    Comrad how long will it take to have a Camaro delivered after I pay for and order it 3 or 4 years? J/K I would rather get a Subayota when I pay and not have to wait.

  • avatar
    chops

    Government Mashup

    Government Mess

    Government Mishap

    Government Mis(sing)fortune

    I have to stop now……..

  • avatar

    Grabbing Money
    Gimme Money

    I like Government Motors though.

    John

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    If the government produced a car, what would we get?

    First off, you would be limited in color. For obvious PC reasons, it could not be black, white, yellow, brown, or red, since colors all carry racial significance. Blue is a possibility, but green is good and wholesome and the catchphrase of the times. Every car would be a shade of green.

    They would be plug-in hybrids that will only run on ethanol, no gasoline. The car would be hooked up to a satellite to track your driving, and your carbon emissions would be tallied. The government could then send you a bill at tax time to settle up your yearly offsets.

    There would also be a solar panel on every horizontal surface and a wind turbine on the hood to power the radio, which would not pick up the transmission of any conservative talk stations.

    They would have 14 airbags and seats made of recycled newspapers. The chassis and frame would be made of recycled soda cans, and the windows would be recycled beer bottles.

    Purchasing the vehicle (only model is a 4-door, of course) would require filling out 4 different forms explaining your need for a vehicle and your stated purpose for owning such appliance. Permit and application fees must be paid in cash at the appropriate government office between the hours of 9am and 4pm.

    The MSRP would be $103,000. However, those making over $250K a year would have to pay $189,000, and those making under $45K a year would only have to pay $24,000. The rest of us will have to duke it out on our own.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Don’t want to come off all cruel and elitist, but if you don’t vote “American Leyland,” you don’t get this whole car thing.

  • avatar

    Casual Observer : Blue is a possibility…

    Just not in Red states.

  • avatar
    thalter

    American Leyland, for historical context.

  • avatar
    menno

    I have to vote “3rds” on American Motors Corporation (Chrysler even still own rights to it).

    To cap it all off, they may as well “streamline” sales operations and make them all under one marque – AMC.

    They could go retro (with names) and re-badge the cars:

    Gremlin
    Spirit
    AMX (ex-Corvette)
    Javelin
    Rebel
    Matador
    Cross Country (perfect for a “crossover”, no?)
    and of course

    AMBASSADOR (for what are now the Cadillacs, natch)

    Anyone cringing yet? Hope so….

    The whole idea of GM and Chrysler together USING MY TAXPAYER MONEY irks the ********** ****** ************ ******** ******** out of me…..

    Politicians? FIRE ‘EM ALL.

  • avatar
    cmus

    “american leyland” is just funny, and sad.

    And true. It gets my vote.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    American Leyland may not ultimately be successful, but it will be worth a significant amount of taxpayer money to ensure that GM/Chrysler gradually fades away rather than failing abruptly, thereby putting the supplier network in Jeopardy and dumping billions in pension obligations onto the shoulders of taxpayers.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Please tell me that this really is NOT going to happen…aren’t we, as taxpayers, already in the hole enough (to something to the tune of $80k per household)? It’s easy for the GM/Ford/Chrysler to blame the recent events on their demise, but that simply is not true. Witness the dramatic marketshare slide over the last few decades, and it becomes painfully clear that the average American is being asked to bail out grossly mismanaged companies. That people like Rabid Rick proclaim that “nobody could have seen this coming” just provides further evidence that we are fools to support this. We do have a right to overthrow the government from time to time, but being the Sheeple we are, we’ll blindly follow the herd to the point of bankrupting our entire country.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Volga?
    VAZ?

    United Suv Sales (&) Rental?

    If he pulls it off “Red Ink Rick” will have earned the “Order of Lenin”.

    Welkome to TPAK-The Pravda About Kars.

    Glasnost Motors?

    Adios Komrads,

    Citizen Bunter

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    American Leyland works for me. Why drop the standard for people who don’t understand? Let’s do the work so they get it.

    Also, points to Bunter for TPAK!

  • avatar

    since i ain’t a voter (just a taxpayer), i vote for aGM – american government motors – so as not to confuse this disaster with some other government’s waste of taxpayer dosh. the canook government will probably get in on the act. the chinese government has been there all the time, but in an inscrutable non-communist way.

    the small “a” denotes the huge return we the taxpayers are not going to get.

  • avatar
    EEGeek

    I vote for American Leyland. The echoes of the current problem and the folly of the proposed “solution” are just so eerie…

    This is just a piece from the Wikipedia:
    At its peak, BLMC owned nearly 40 different manufacturing plants across the country. Even before the merger BMH had included theoretically competing marques which were in fact selling substantially similar “badge engineered” cars. [] The result was a product range which was incoherent and full of duplication

    Sound familiar?

  • avatar
    eh_political

    GMW:

    Government Money Wanted.

    Tagline? O say “Epic Failing Machine”–needs work, but a new way of measuring suck–juxtaposing with BMW, I mean.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    American Leyland

    It just says it all about government involvement in business.

    “American Leyland. Built by Postal Workers, serviced by the IRS, and sold by Congressman.”

    Though that last bit may be an insult to car salesman.

  • avatar

    American Leyland : What was stupid in 1968 remains stupid in 2008.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Since we seem to have gone commie anyhow, I nominate “The Peoples’ Car Company No. 1″.

    How about “Federal Automotive Industry League”, aka “FAIL“?

  • avatar

    So “American Leyland” is too British, too highbrow, too so-phistigated?

    No dicking around then:

    American Layland

    Led on. Laid off. Fucked.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I’m firmly in the American Leyland camp :(.

  • avatar
    rochskier

    Put me down for American Leyland!

    Tally ho!

  • avatar

    … and we should also have joint slogans:

    American Layland

    Eye it – try it – fuck it.
    Fornication comes standard.

  • avatar
    kansei

    The fact that _I_ get to pay for the mismanagement of GM, Chrysler, the banks, and probably soon Ford makes me feel sick. I know it would cause a huge catastrophe if they were to fail but I think it’s a bit too late to do much. The recent bank bailouts have shown that the bailout money will end up entangled in the same corruption and mismanagement that caused the problem in the first place.

    The handouts are just prolonging the hurt, if GM/Chrysler want a bailout the government needs to hand the money over while at the same time requiring a top to bottom restructuring of the companies including the management.

    The management is to blame for all of the problems faced by GM/Chrysler/Ford/Banks, yet execs are still very overpaid, still have golden parachutes, etc. It all seems so wrong and makes me want to jump ship to some other country –any other country.

  • avatar
    Samir

    Government Motors is the best. It’s got a very demaning, negative connotation in what is supposed to be a country that his pro-capitalism.

    American Leyland is too obscure. Only ivory tower pistonheads (like you and me) will get it. The others won’t be bothered to look it up – the internet is strictly for buying parts off Ebay.

  • avatar
    AG

    I have an idea, how about Richard Wagoner’s Pathetic Excuse for a Car Company?

  • avatar
    Dave

    And I thought it was just the Brits who understood ironey….

    American Leyland gets my vote (if I’m allowed to from the other side of the pond).

    Kansei – don’t come to Britain .. we did this 30 years ago and look where it’s got us – f&^! all manufacturing so as the banking industry goes tits-up we’ve only got the MacD service industry left to support 60 million of us.

  • avatar
    njgreene

    American Leyland, the people here will understand it, and for the great unwashed masses who don’t read TTAC it’s irrelevant.

    Plus, wouldn’t changing the name to something more commonly understood be an act of brand faithlessness against TTAC itself? Not that that wouldn’t be ironic, which is very TTAC, but still.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    American Leyland certainly captures the current GM fiasco in a “those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it” sort of way, which makes it my choice. However, Government Motors has the advantage of maintaining the current abbreviation for the company and probably saving a ton of money on new letterhead, building signage, etc. ;-)

  • avatar
    dean

    American Leyland is a great nudge-nudge-wink-wink name for those in the know.

    For those that aren’t, I prefer Generally (broke) Motors.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The Borg

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    The US government might be able to delay the inevitable, but just like the British government it will not be able to prevent it:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Scripophily_BLMC_1972.jpg

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    General Mopar

    Generally Moronic

    Genetically Mutated

    or:

    Ayn Rand’s Nightmare

  • avatar
    bumpy

    The ‘AL’ partisans are overlooking one very important flaw in the analogy: it only encompasses 3/5 of the domestic auto industry. Ford, to their credit, seems determined to stay as far away as possible from that impending fustercluck, and I would surmise that Ford’s autonomy will be what dooms a GM-Chrysler union. Giving special treatment to a quasi-governmental home team might be politically palatable but screwing over Ford in the process won’t be, so all three (or two) would have to get that special treatment which would in effect give Ford a mile-long head start.

    So Government Motors it is, since the feds will be its only reliable customer when all the fuss settles down.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    It’s unfortunate Volkswagen (people’s car) is already taken. Taxpayers could paste savings stamps into a book and send it in with their tax return. The government would courier a new car out by UPS, with a prepaid waybill in case it doesn’t start.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    @Jonny Lieberman :

    I agree that based on history, American Leyland would be a superb choice. The problem is that the companies in question are completely ignorant of history.

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    @Blunoser:

    I was actually thinking of the Twentieth Century Motor Company as a suggestion.

  • avatar
    KeithBates

    I’m all in for American Leyland…

    It is apropos…

    SteveL

  • avatar
    HarveyBirdman

    Now that I’ve followed the advice of others and checked out Wikipedia, I’ve also gotta put a vote in for American Leyland, for all of the reasons given above. Heck, if TTAC can have a Cassandra Watch, certainly a Leyland reference isn’t too far out in left field…

  • avatar
    pgreenberg

    I tried “American Leyland” out this morning on a conference call with some of my UK-based business associates. They laughed their asses off. It gets my vote on that.

    Besides, “AL” separates the enthusiasts from the car-as-appliance crowd.

  • avatar
    mistrernee

    Checker Motors Corporation

    Nothing but fleet sales…

    actually, my bad… that’s what they are now

  • avatar
    menno

    We’re rapidly running out of time before these national debts are totally out of control. OK, I’ll say it – these national debts ARE totally out of control. I think it’s obvious that once hyperinflation starts, we’ll see a scenario only last seen in a major western nation once in modern times; Germany 1920-1923. (The Weimar Republic). Ten years later, they voted Adoph in, even after things had improved. We’re going about it the other way; apparently electing our Adolph in then having our economic collapse.

    It seems that virtually “nobody” is listening to people such as myself, or more importantly, Ron Paul or these fellows from newsmax.com, or Lew Rockwell at lewrockwell.com.

    And the fact is, it’s probably too late to do anything about it. There’s a lag time involved between actions and consequences. Kind of like pulling back the biggest rubber band you can imagine, on which there is 20 tons of bullsh*t aimed towards a massive “air circulating device” rotating at top speed. American Leyland will be but a flash in the pan before the whole lot goes to oblivion as fast as sh!t off a greased shovel.

    To quote from newsmax.com:

    I.O.U.S.A. on steroids

    Don’t look now, but the national debt has exploded ever since Lehman Bros. blew up.
    Indeed, I.O.U.S.A. has gone further into the hole over the last six weeks than it did in the entire year preceding.
    As of last Friday, October 24 — the last date available — the total is $10,523,955,355,856.66.
    So in six weeks the national debt has jumped $840 billion, or 8.7%.
    The previous $840 billion jump took nearly 18 months. This one took six weeks.
    $200 billion of that $840 billion, give or take, came in a mere three-day span after the House rejected the bailout bill and the Dow made its epic 777-point drop. …the national debt is, as chart fanatics might say, “going parabolic.”

  • avatar
    HPE

    The little silver badge on GM’s output is just too close to the BL defacement scar logo for comfort. American Leyland can be the only option.

  • avatar
    ttilley

    My vote is Government Motors.

    I grew up in Michigan during the beginning of the long years of GM’s decline…people who criticized this decline from the beginning called the company “Generous Motors”. “Government Motors” is a relatively small change from the former name. “American Leyland” doesn’t begin to fit within the initials “GM”, and doesn’t have any similar phrase that might lend it historical continuity. Even if the parallel is closer, the name simply has no resonance.

    This said, I’m not opposed to a bailout under all circumstances. There are many mid-sized communities that remain utterly dependent upon a single huge corporation, mostly in the midwest, and there’s still no credible answer as to how all that economic activity is to be replaced in a reasonable timeframe. Despite the fact that this problem has stuck out like a sore thumb for decades. I no longer live in such a community, but I grew up in one, and have family and friends there.

    My preference would be to help the impacted communities without helping GM. If helping GM is required then I’m quite convinced the gesture is meaningless without new management. So I’m unconditionally opposed to bailout schemes that leave the current management in place. But I’m open to ideas that start with showing the current management the door.

  • avatar
    ttilley

    …the national debt is, as chart fanatics might say, “going parabolic.”

    Yes, it is.

    That’s what happens when an epic credit bubble is allowed to form. That’s why we’re supposed to have regulations, rigorously enforced, that would prevent such bubbles. We’re not supposed to have Fed Chairs who insist that it’s impossible to recognize bubbles while they’re happening, despite people at the time screaming that a bubble was happening.

    And we’re supposed to elect people to represent us who know all of this. We didn’t do that, so now we have a bunch of spilled milk. Over which, we’re told, we shouldn’t cry.

  • avatar

    I like both. American Leyland for the cognoscenti. Government Motors for the in-your-face crowd.

    If there is no consensus, the maverik option would be “PC” for People’s Car.

    It’s simple. It’s American. Even Ford would sign on.

    It worked before.

    You put stamps in a savings book, be promised a car which everybody knows won’t be covered by the savings, and get nothing in the end – the savings are funneled into a war (or two.)

    PC would be a-propos in a world where nipples cause an uproar, and where BS is castigated for using “Yellow Peril.”

    Warranty cases would also be much easier:

    “My PC don’t work.”

    “You need a new driver.”

    PS: The PC would of course be made entirely from parts from the PRC, a TKD car, totally knocked down.

    PPS: All TTAC B&B will go to camps for sensitivity training – to pain

    PPPS: The PC would take half an hour to start.

    PPPPS: “It’s a PC. Expect a bug.”

  • avatar
    nudave

    I’ve always been fond of “Generally Mediocre”.

    The average American is too stupid to realize the significance of the word “Leyland”.


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