By on May 18, 2013

 

While a minor shit storm erupted the other day over the use of a word denoting short-haired women who love women, and, allegedly, certain cars, I did a lot of the soul-searching and self-reflection demanded from me, and I thought about all the scandals I may have caused in my life, and which I would regret, if the hate mails are an indicator. There were many scandals, and one of the most egregious involved a car. Oddly enough, it involved a car that allegedly is a top choice among men who love men. The scandal, however, involved people who were into dogs, fish, and other animals. And it was about the Volkswagen Jetta.

In 1973, at the at that time not so tender age of 24, I switched from journalism to advertising. The pay was good and got obscenely better every year. I started working for Volkswagen right away. There was a huge job opening for the FNG: The first oil shock was upon us, and everybody was convinced that cars will be a matter of the past. Seasoned advertising professionals went for safer accounts, like alcohol or cigarettes. I was told to work on Volkswagen, a dead-end job as everybody was convinced. Volkswagen and I fell in love with each other, the relationship lasted longer than most marriages, from 1973 through 2007.

My work on the Golf is documented here and also here. The full series of advertising lows and automotive high-jinx can be found here.

In late 1978, we received briefing materials for a car called Jetta. Actually, at that time, the car had no name, but a number. In the beginning, all briefing documentations were titled “EA,” followed by a number. The EA stood for “Entwicklungs-Auftrag” (development assignment,) the number was a running number. There were many gaps between the numbers when they reached us, many development orders never say the light of day. I don’t remember what the EA number of the Jetta was.

When we were given the documentation, it was handed over with a sneer. The Jetta was not very popular at Volkswagen, even when it existed only on paper. People at Volkswagen and everywhere else were in love with the Golf in 1978. It was a rip-roaring success, so were, to varying extents, the Passat, and the Polo, and the Scirocco. They were all hatches, and everybody at Volkswagen was convinced that from now on, all Volkswagen will be hatches.

The Jetta had an odd appendix that should not be there, it had a trunk.

Jetta Mk1 -Picture courtesy volksforum.com

The trunk was somehow grafted onto a Golf, like a strap-on to a  — let’s not go there. To this day, Volkswagen Classic, the arm of Volkswagen that is tracking the company’s heritage, says that the “base for the new model was the technology and substantial parts of the Golf MkI. The body of the donor car were inherited up to the B pillar.” According to the official history, “the ace card of the Jetta was the formidable 520 liter volume of the trunk.”

And it was exactly that trump card trunk that made my contacts sneer and roll their eyes. The car had a second name before it even hit the market. It was called “Rucksack Golf,” a name that quickly found its way into the media, where it lives on today.

The car was there, because there was a market for a car with a trunk: People who like cars with trunks. Two years before, the Derby had been launched. It was a Rucksack-Polo. The small hatch had a huge trunk strapped-on. The trunk was so big that we fit an eponymous trunk-bearer into it for advertising purposes, an elephant. But that’s a different story for another edition of the Autobiography of BS(c).

Studies had shown that there was a niche-market of around 80,000 units for such a car, and that it would be popular mostly among older people. The Derby did not outlive its first generation. In 1981, it was discontinued, the internal reason for its early death was that “less than 100,000 people buy it, and they are all old.”

The biggest market for the Jetta was expected to be in the U.S., where the Golf saw only limited success. People in America want a real car with a real trunk, we learned at the time, and somehow, they would not get it that a hatch was a much better design, as intended by God and his priests in white, the Volkswagen engineers.

At Volkswagen, cars with trunks were seen as treason, as a betrayal of the ideology based on the superiority of hatches. Derby, Jetta, Santana: Cars with strap-ons were seen as an evil popular in those odd OTHER markets. Internally, and probably to protect one’s imperiled sanity, it was quickly decided that the Jetta is ugly, and if the Americans want such an abomination, so be it, and let’s sell as many as we possibly can in Europe, even if the car is, did we mention it, ugly.

As documented in the Autobiography of BS ©, I did not know anything about cars, and even less so about car design. I declared the car is beautiful. The fact that the car was ugly had already leaked out, the media was waiting, not with bated breath, for the Rucksack-Golf, and it was decided to go on the counter-offensive and to go with my strategy that espoused the beauty of the Jetta.

When the launch campaign for the Jetta appeared, the billboard asked: “Which is more beautiful?” It showed a Jetta and a colorful winged fish. A poster said “Which is more dependable?” It showed a Jetta and a German Shepherd dog. And so forth, you can imagine the rest. You will have to imagine it because the campaign appears to be gone. My private archive, all on 35 millimeter slides, perished when a storage place in Brooklyn caught fire, and what did not burn was ruined by the Brooklyn Fire Dept. Slides are like W.C.Fields. They hate water. Volkswagen has an early catalog on-line, but no pictures of winged fish or German canines. It’s probably better that way.

Soon after the start of the campaign, there was a huge outcry. We were blamed for “animal abuse,” because we dared to show pictures of fish and dogs, instead of the usual happy people who drive our beautiful cars. I was requested to write a form letter to be sent to all who did complain. I wrote that we are sorry for abusing animals in advertising, and that we promise to henceforth abuse people only. I don’t think they sent that letter.

I was told that Volkswagen stated that no fish, fowl or canine were harmed during the production of the ads, due to the fact that the pictures were taken under the supervision of zoological experts. If people would have wanted the truth, they would have heard that the animals were stock photos.

We were perplexed. We had shown carefully casted chiwawas and countless other cute canines before. We’ve shown flocks of sheep grazing on meadows as proof of our greenness. We’ve shown many cars that were dogs. No objections were raised. This time, waves after waves of protests crashed into Wolfsburg. An association of German Shepherd owners threatened to use us as props in the training of their guard dogs, and there were more threats, not suitable even for this mature audience.

We never found out what the reason for this outcry was, but we had our suspicions. The beautiful winged fish was a Manta, which happened to be the name of the Opel Manta, a direct competitor of the Jetta, and the object of many jokes. The stereotypical Manta driver was stupid, and was married to a blond hairdresser. If you weren’t totally dense at the time, you got the not so subtle hint that the Jetta looked better than the Manta – even the stereotypical Manta driver got it. Sometimes.

To this day, Manta jokes are a staple of that oxymoron called German humor. Manta jokes are historically so important that one made it into Wikipedia:

“What does a Manta driver say to a tree after a crash? – “Why didn’t you get out of my way, I used the horn!”

TV Tropes has a rich collection of Manta jokes. Here are a few:

“What remains when a Manta burns down? A golden necklace and a crying hairdresser.“

“How does a Manta driver make a family portrait? He puts everyone in the Manta and races through a speed trap.“

“What’s the last thing that goes through a Manta drivers head, when crashing into a wall? The rear wing.”

(Should anyone feel traumatized by the insensitivity shown towards Manta drivers and blond hairdressers, please direct your protestations to Wikipedia, TV Tropes, or Google.)

Volkswagen of course denied any connection to Manta, the car, and steadfastly maintained their position that this was an innocent campaign to underscore the elegant lines of the new Jetta, that the Manta fish was chosen for its beauty, and that any similarities with other Mantas living or dead would be purely coincidental. Comparative advertising was against the law, and there was an unspoken (or maybe secretly agreed) code of conduct that forbade slights against the competition.

Then and now, taboos were and are there to be broken. Of course, there was the suspicion that behind the shitstorm – at the time fought only with the lumbering weapons of letters to the company and to editors – was more than outraged animal rights activists that protested against the abuse of a fish in car advertising. Of course there was the suspicion that behind the outrage were slighted Manta drivers, or even Opel itself. Opel would have never admitted it either, so it turned into a proxy war.

Jetta MK2 - Picture courtesy flickriver.com

Volkswagen did not take the campaign down. Doing so would have been a sign of weakness, an admission of wrongdoing, and frankly there were no other posters to take the place of the offensively objectionable and profoundly pejorative fish and dogs.

Showing backbone in the face of vicious attacks for silly reasons has a tradition at Volkswagen. The war of the fish and dogs was a minor incident compared to the many years of open and nasty warfare by Greenpeace against Volkswagen, one of the more environmentally attuned automakers. Knowing that it is on the good side, VW did not back down, and did not submit to greenmail. Finally, Greenpeace took its ball, pouted, and went home. “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on” is an old Arabic proverb, it is part of Volkswagen’s unreleeased corporate philosophy, and it is worth stealing. Husband your resources for when the shit really hits the fan. When criticism was justified, such as in the case of forced labor, Volkswagen was among the first to admit it and to do something about it.

Time heals all wounds, and like many small proxy wars, the brouhaha soon landed in the dustbin of history. The campaign won many medals (except with the animal rights people, the nascent PC police, and Opel), and Bertel was promoted Creative Director, and later President of the advertising agency.

In Germany, the Jetta was a limited success. It sold 90,000 in its first year and it was downhill from there. Later, I tried to resurrect the fish and dog campaign to stem the dwindling of the sales. I argued the campaign had worked before, so why not try it again. Usually, that logic was irrefutable at Volkswagen, in this case, it only received a pained “not again, Bertel.”

As predicted by the marketing strategy, the Jetta was and is a huge success in the U.S. The Jetta Mk I lived on for decades in China. In Europe, later Jettas suffered from an identity crisis, and were named Vento, Bora, or Sagitar in China.

Note: Do not use this article to gripe about  the use or abuse of of a word denoting short-haired women who love women. Extensive room has been given to more than 200 comments, which all are still there.  When threats were issued, the discussion was closed to protect TTAC, and, frankly, the commenters. Do not continue the closed discussion here.  Any such comments would be immediately removed , and their authors would be banned for violation  of an administrative action as set forth in TTAC’s commenting rules.

 

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88 Comments on “Autobiography Of BS© : How I Harmed Sundry Animals...”


  • avatar
    rdsymmes

    I owned a 1981 Wolfsburg Edition 2-door diesel. Hell of a car, but it wouldn’t get out of it’s way with the AC on.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    “Then and now, taboos were and are there to be broken.”

    you sound like pretty much any college freshman ever.

  • avatar
    Onus

    Duuuude Look at my V DUBB its got RIIMMMZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

    Puke.

    Fantastic Article as Usual. I have fond memories of mk 1 or mk 2 Jetta that a neighbor had when i was a kid. It love the basic but functional shape.

    My Grandma also had a Rabbit. You know the one made in Pennsylvania. I don’t know much about it but she had it until should couldn’t drive anymore due to her sight in the early 90′s.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    I thought the Manta was aimed at the Capri and I loved how the Manta looked. I’m sitting out in front of a bar in Helen Georgia right now at the VW festival and am surprised at how many Pennsylvania VW’s are still running. I’ve seen half a dozen pickups and numerous Rabbits. The Jetta was a better fit for America. The first Scirocco was beauty. Weren’t all those cars designed by Guiguaro?

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      bfb, I never even heard of the Manta until today, but after looking at the photo in the story and then more online, I very much agree. Bad news is it apparently means we are dumb. Good news is that we get hot girlfriends with big hair.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      The Passat, Golf and Scirocco were all Giugiaro designs. The Jetta was adapted from the Giugiaro original by VW’s in-house design team. The Polo was a rebadged Audi 50, which had been designed by Claus Luthe.

      The Derby and Jetta trunk adaptations were done by VW’s in-house design teams.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I had a Manta (well, a 1900 Sport Coupe, which was its predecessor, identical but for the name), and it was a piece of crap. I thought I was getting good German engineering, but instead I was stuck with a German Vega. Bought it new from the local Buick dealer, who was like “Thanks. Now get this piece of crap off my lot.”

  • avatar
    thelaine

    “Studies had shown that there was a niche-market of around 80,000 units for such a car, and that it would be popular mostly among older people.”

    You have probably already done it, but I would love to see an article on these studies, how they are done, and, of course, the great failures that have occurred as a result of these types of studies.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Why do gay people drive such shit cars?

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    The Manta has such beautiful understated sublime styling. One of the few cars whose styling is timeless.
    Most certainly today’s automotive journalists’ consensus would dismiss it as bland.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    I’ve always wondered why are Americans so enamored with a car with a trunk, rather than a hatchback. I know that hatchbacks don’t sell nearly as well (hence the huge imbalance of the Jetta to Golf sales ratio), so I take it as a given. But SUVs and CUVs don’t have trunks, and you could argue that they are just big hatchbacks. So I’m still at a loss on how to explain it.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Would you rather hide a dead body in a trunk or a hatchback Leek? Think!

    • 0 avatar
      mr_muttonchops

      It could be a generational thing. Many people that grew up with early hatches in the US may still associate them with cars like the Gremlin and Vega: kinda crap (albeit THOSE cars were fairly forward thinking for their time.) Of course it also doesn’t help that in a lot of cases the hatch is the more expensive model, so the younger people that like hatches probably can’t afford the new ones and get a sedan instead (which is why my friend was stuck with a Sonic sedan, instead of the hatch. He likes it but wishes he got the cooler looking hatch.)

      • 0 avatar
        AFX

        The irony of the situation:

        VW adds a trunk to a Golf and calls it the Jetta.

        AMC hacks off the trunk of a Hornet and calls it a Gremlin, which later ends up with a 2 liter 4-cylinder VW engine.

        Both cars are successfull in the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      As an American trunks hold more crap. Let me tell you most Americans have tons of crap.

      You used to also be able to sit in the back of sedans. If that was still the case i would choose a sedan over a hatch anyday.

      Plus way back in the day when Europe was getting tiny cars we were getting HUGE ones with trunks so large you wouldn’t believe.

      We also have never had the need to navigate tiny streets, and parking is easy to find in a parking lot. No need to parallel park. It all makes sense if you think about it.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Why don’t Americans go for hatchbacks?

      Well, the reason I don’t care for them is because of the proportions – they look like giant metal shoes.

      Wagons at least have a certain well-proportioned look to them. But hatchbacks – no thanks.

      Also, there’s probably a stigma of excessive Europeanness clinging to them.

      As in, “This is a car for people who live in overcrowded termite-mound cities and can barely afford anything. We’re Americans, and we can do better than that.”

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Why do Americans like cars with trunks? Why do the most prosperous people the world over like cars with trunks? Pretty much the same reasons that every car not intended for the proletariat in every market isn’t a hatchback are the reasons why Americans don’t settle for hatchbacks when ultimate utility isn’t worth the sacrifice. Why doesn’t a Mercedes S-class have a hatchback? It’s because people don’t run delivery services with luxury cars, and they don’t have to wedge them into tiny parking spaces. Nor do most Americans worry about such things when they buy a car. Why put up with the rattles, the lack of chassis rigidity, and the diminished security of a hatchback when you don’t have to? Americans only drive hatchbacks in bad times. That’s why we drove them 33 years ago, that’s why they’re on the rise today. If we’ve got a future, they don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “intended for the proletariat”

        He’s right.

        I’m a prole and I love hatches. But our ’08 Rio5 has nary a rattle plus the chasis is rigid enough that the paint hasn’t even cracked.

        Yay Prole Cars!

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        “Why do Americans like cars with trunks? Why do the most prosperous people the world over like cars with trunks? Pretty much the same reasons that every car not intended for the proletariat in every market isn’t a hatchback are the reasons why Americans don’t settle for hatchbacks when ultimate utility isn’t worth the sacrifice.” Why did the Eagle Talon TSi AWD have a hatchback?

        Because it was made for the proles, which is why I bought one instead of a 4 year old quattro (US model, 160 hp), and despite the fact I loved my Audi Coupe. The Talon flat out trashed the quattro, IMHO, and freaked out my snooty (obviously not a prole) pal with the Porsche 944, another hatchback. “Terrible damping,” he opined after a short drive. “Try keeping up. You choose the road,” was my reply. No response.

        I buy a car for certain results not whether it’s a hatchback or sedan. To go on about prosperous people and sedans is a bit rich and pretentious. IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I’ve always wondered why are Americans so enamored with a car with a trunk, rather than a hatchback. ”

      Because we have things called “valuables” that we don’t want seen or stolen when we leave our cars. We prefer to have them locked and encased in metal.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Americans buy SUVs by the millions each year, none of which have a trunk, with the same issues of exposed contents and a perceived lack of security. Same with station wagons, which once upon a time were very popular here in the US. I think there may perhaps be more to it than that. I have wondered if hatchback, when first introduced were inexpensive cars, and the stigma never faded. Hatchback = cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Hatchbacks have an advantage over sedans for hauling over-sized items, but only if you fold the seats down. And only if the item is tall rather than long, otherwise a sedan with folding rear seats can probably still fit it. If you are constantly hauling over-sized items, you should probably buy a pickup truck anyway.

      Some hatchbacks (Golf) can carry either people or cargo, but not both very effectively. The cargo area in a Golf is pretty tight with the seats up. Meanwhile the Jetta can carry four people and their luggage.

      I’m still trying to figure out why so many are so enamored with hatchbacks. They have their uses, but are hardly the superior design for all situations that so many make them out to be.

  • avatar
    AFX

    “In 1973, at the at that time not so tender age of 24, I switched from journalism to advertising. Volkswagen and I fell in love with each other, the relationship lasted longer than most marriages, from 1973 through 2007.”

    So THAT’S where they came up with the phrase “Ad nauseum” !.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    On the subject of hatches and trunks, has anyone ever seen hatchbacks that LOOK like trunks? I don’t mean a fastback ala some Camaros and Celicas, but cars like the early Mazda6 hatch. This is kind of a clever ruse, but at the same time it seems like they should just fully commit to the hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      How about a hatchback version that was so rare hardly anyone ever saw one out in the real world ?.

      I remember many years ago flipping through one of those Consumer Guide auto buyers books and seeing a listing for the Chevy Corsica, and there was a hatchback version listed. I was like WHAAAATTT ????, they made a hatchback of that thing !. I never actually ever saw one anywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >> has anyone ever seen hatchbacks that LOOK like trunks? <<

      The new Accord is almost the opposite – from outside it almost looks like there's no real trunk, yet when open there's actually a large internal trunk.

      http://cdn4.leftlanenews.com/photos/content/june2012/thumbnailsnew/honda-accord-review-6_1035.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Early 80′s Camrys
      Mid 80′s Mazda 626
      Mid 80′s Dodge Lancer/Chrysler LeBaron GTS (the regular LeBaron back then was the boxy K car clone)
      Mid 80′s Chevy Corsica (I see someone already mentioned this)

      I’m sure there’s a couple I’m forgetting.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      I see a lot of sedans that look like hatches. I wonder why they just don’t all the way?

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      The Shadow / Sundance twins immediately come to mind.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “they would not get it that a hatch was a much better design, as intended by God and his priests in white, the Volkswagen engineers.”

    I think they simply don’t understand the basic fact that you can’t fit a stroller and a Costco run in a hatch. I saw a couple with a kid yesterday doing that in a Fit, not funny. A Corolla wagon didn’t fare much better.

    Or they did… They have a Golf Variant since MK-whatevs.

    In Venezuela, car with boot=”more car”. Comparing directly Palio with Siena, I agree.

    SUVs and CUVs are more like tall SW, so you get an extended cargo area.

    There are some very useful hatches out there, they’re usually called Saab 900/9-3, Opel Vectra/Insignia, Skoda Octavia/Superb, Ford Mondeo…

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      I got 2.5 Costco carts into the back of my golf. Granted no stroller but still… Not bad considering, It’s a small car, credit where credit is due.

  • avatar

    Beat that, Wert

  • avatar
    olddavid

    The girl immediately after wife No.1 loved the Jetta enough that I got her a white coupe. She was worth a fleet of them, had she asked. The Jetta brings smiles and other visceral memories immediately to my mind. Just another character defect. Should’ve kept her, but what is that old saying about young and dumb?” I wish that I knew what I know now – when I was younger” – Ray Davies, sing it to me.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      My first car was a white ’92 coupe. I also have many great memories in that car, and the car itself served its purpose well, too. In good condition in 2002, long after cars had gone jellybean, the thing was archaic – hell, it was archaic in 1992 – but had a certain feeling of honest quality about it, and I’d definitely say it had character in all its three-wheeling glory.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Heh… all that’s missing from that italicized paragraph is “Achtung, Achtung!” to kick it off.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Aren’t threats fun?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    This is one of THE most interesting blogs I have ever read on TTAC. I never realized that the Jetta was a sedan with a trunk added, I always believed that a hatch was a sedan with the trunk deleted. Perhaps that does explain why the Jetta has always had such a HUGE trunk?
    Thanks Bertel, you made my day :-)

    • 0 avatar

      I’d venture to say that most European cars start life as a hatchback and then, if someone sees a market for them, they sprout trunks. Specially the smaller cars. I’d also say that that is one reason why Europeans don’t buy small sedans very much. The ride is compromised.

      In Brazil, Palio begat Siena (and SW and pick up, same for Uno, Gol, Corsa. It’s been going on since at least the 80s.

      There’s been an interesting change now. Nowadays, cars like Logan start off as a sedan, then become hatchbacks. The Grand Siena is now emancipated from the Palio. Chevy Cobalt is a sedan with only vague relation to Sonic. It’s one of the reasons these small sedans are now much better drives. Since they started out as sedans the projects allow for the wheels to be pushed out to the back of the car. I have experience with both kinds of cars. An old Siena, with the 500L trunk full could be handful to drive. The Logan drives better than the Sandero.

      If you’re interested look how much further back the back wheels of a Logan or Cobalt are in comparison with an old Fiat Premio/Duna or Polo sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        I agree the Logan’s ride is very good. There are two benefits to having the wheels far back. One is cabin space and the other is ride, as you mention. Less weight to control after the back axle and a longer wheel base, giving a bigger car feel to the ride.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Did you ever do any advertising for any of VW Group’s other brands, or was it solely Volkswagen?

  • avatar
    Summicron

    I admire this article more with each re-read.
    Such a clever use of past vehicles as a vehicle to deliver the subtext:

    “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
    any criticism of my sense of humor can only come from overwrought
    silly-asses. So don’t let it happen again.”

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    Amazing story.

    Never underestimate “Nerd Rage”. It doesn’t take much to trigger it.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    My oldest son owned a Jetta- broke down constantly. But, it WAS very stylish! Perhaps I am one of the few people who thought the Manta was kinda cool looking- but then, I liked most of the Opel line, even the Kadett- they just seemed kinda cool. Nowadays, there are lots of Jettas still around, but I rarely see an Opel… guess that has symbolic significance of some sort…

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Wait. Using photographs of animals is abuse? I’m thinking of those captioned kitties all over the interwebs. Oh, the humanity!

  • avatar
    Mathias

    Thanks for the memories, Bertel. I remember the late 70s/early 80s quite well, unfortunately.. and the Manta-Witze… but I have no recollection of the ad campaign. It’d be great if someone dug up a link… the interwebs have pictures, somewhere, I bet.

    Until fairly late into my grown-up years, I labored under the illusion that large companies worked according to a plan, had things under control, and pretty much knew what would happen next. I had no idea that the Golf (I) and later he Diesel, were such risky ventures.

    A great read.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a myth. Most successes simply happen.

      For instance, did you know that IBM was convinced that the total market size for the IBM PC was 5,000 pieces? (“Gee why would anyone at home need a COMPUTER?????”)

      This misconception founded Microsoft. Because they KNEW that they would sell only 5,000 , IBM happily gave Bill Gates $50 per copy of IBM DOS. They thought they had him, because only they knew that the market is so small ….

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        A couple of corrections. IBM saw the market as 50,000 annually, not 5,000. IBM didn’t give the operating system to Microsoft because of the low volume, they did so because at the time (1983) there was a very real threat of the anti-trust lawsuit hanging over IBM. The management of the time felt that outsourcing the microprocessor to Intel and the operating system to Microsoft would show the Department of Justice that they were willing to share with other, non-IBM entities in the burgeoning personal computer market and therefore prevent the impending breakup of the company. IBM kept the design and manufacture of the hardware, which in retrospect was one of the most colossal mistakes in business history. But being broken up into smaller companies (like what did happen to AT&T the following year) was a very real threat and caused the IBM managers to make the decisions that they did at the time.

        • 0 avatar

          A huge load of revisionist history. My agency had the IBM account at, before, and after that time. However, in the course of that I had to sign a serious NDA that exposed me, my family, and future generations to severe reprisals, therefore, no Computerbiography of BS.

  • avatar
    Windy

    ok where is the explanation of the double meaning of the poster add with the dependable German Shepard dog?

    Was there a car that you were subliminally seeking to call to mind that had a name that meant shepard? did it have a reputation for being dependable? or for sniffing bombs or corpses?

  • avatar
    Skink

    Self-absolution by non sequitur. Beautiful.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    …um, (scratches head) *sigh*

  • avatar
    kjb911

    I have to say when my ex had his MKIV and MKV Jetta I had a special place in my heart right next to the section that had been gutted by every bad relationship and heartache since I was the one that fixed them…but when they were working I did get semi jealous… on the hatchback front I have always preferred them..my focus is great for hauling everything including my printed designs that could range up to 58×63 and a case of 60inch roll laminate that even my boss’ trailblazer couldn’t hold…the only downside to this is that my trips to Ikea cause me to spend more

  • avatar
    wmba

    The white priests of VW delivered my brand new 1980 Jetta with a lowered front end that almost kissed the pavement. It looked mean.

    Upon traversing the first real bump in the road, the front suspension bottomed. The HVAC system quit working at the same time.

    Hmm. There was a vacuum reservoir that looked like a series of round spheres held on by elastic bands to the inside of the hood. It was to run the doors and valves of the pneumatic HVAC system, which made sweet little sighs as buttons were pushed.

    The rubber bands broke due to the suspension bottoming. Eventually it was discovered that the front springs were for a cheap Euro 1100 Golf, not my 1600, A/C, PS etc. A little too soft. They gave up replacing the rubber bands for the vacuum reservoir, so it permanently rested on the engine with a longer tube so it wouldn’t pull off.

    Then the shifter began to sizzle at all rpms. I was left to run around with the leather bootee removed and a supply of wooden strips which I jammed into the linkage to quell the sizzle but which eventually broke, hence “supply”.

    After 15 months of this torture, I traded it on a brand new Audi Coupe. Thank God. Best handling FWD car I ever drove, bar none.

    Thank you VW for punishing me for buying a Jetta, homely little bag of shite that it was.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      They sold you a car that was miserable to own, so you moved up the range and bought a more expensive car from them. You could have been GM’s dream customer during the ’70s.

  • avatar

    I would like to reiterate the warning at the end of the article. It pains me when I have to ban someone. Don’t make me ban more than the two that just were banned.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Warning, threat…….whichever works I guess.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    I truly enjoyed my brown ’84 2door 5 speed on a 45 mile each way commute. Great gas mileage considering I could burn rubber in second gear with the wider tire upgrade. Wish it had the 16v from a GLI (did Vee Dub make any 2dr GLI’s?). Only problems I ever had were with the fuel pump relay (any good rain and water would travel down wires to the circuit breaker panel and short out the relay) and the parking brake cable (stupid design with a twin-wire yoke would never stay set for long).
    Certainly a more fun car than our ’76 Dasher 3dr HB in burnt metallic orange (Bronze Zit?).
    Fahr

  • avatar
    Ltd783

    What a fun, friendly website we have here…

  • avatar

    It has been a good run, TTAC, but after about a year of daily reading, I think I’m done!

    Vasconcellos is good, but the rest are aging and out-of-touch. It’s like your uncle who still thinks its funny to use the n-word, and thinks he’s bonding with you. But he’s not, and he’s too slow to pick up on the nuance.

    PEACE OUT. BAN INCOMING.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Mr. Schmitt ;

    Don’t _ever_ stop writing nor allow your self to be muzzled ! .

    I always enjoy reading your columns even when about newer cars I don’t much care about / for .

    I’m piqued about the ” Notice ” column , it says you got 200 comments and they’re still there for the reading but no link ~ I’ve spent some time looking at your various posts and then at Subaru posts but none appear to have 200 comments .

    May I please have a link ? .

    I remember Subaru 360′s and the early 1970′s 4 X 4 Wagon very fondly , my Son has two WRX Wagons and sold off his , uh other Subaru Wagon (I don’t recall what model it was but it made a fine off roader) .

    Anyway , please allow me to read what all happened too , no comments unless / until they’re asked for .

    -Nate


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  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
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