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[Editor's Note: The following was originally printed 13 years ago in the Corvallis Gazette-Times. It was written by Alexander "Sasha" Volokh of the highly excellent Volokh Conspiracy blog. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.]
The private car is unpopular these days. When it isn’t blamed for congestion, it’s blamed for pollution. And, invariably, the proposed solutions are restrictions on driving, increased taxes for public transit and other punitive programs or regulations.
But the trouble with seeing driving as the enemy is that it’s too easy to lose sight of its benefits.
The archives of TTAC contain some real gems. Since probably quite a few of you weren’t here three years ago or more, we’re going to mine them occasionally for our weekend reading pleasure. This piece originally ran on November 19, 2006.
Please note that the author is actually Steve Smohlenkamp. I am unable to reinsert his name due to technical difficulties (otherwise known as operator error). My apologies. PN
As a six-year-old growing up in the rich farmlands of northern Illinois, I spent my days playing in the creeks that meandered along and across Flansberg and Orangeville roads. One day, I was ambling home when a thunderous roar jolted me from my reverie. A black car came out of the curve behind me and sped past. The passenger waved. Convinced that I’d seen not one but two ghosts (restless souls at that), I ran home. (Read More…)
So exactly how did Ford achieve quality equal to Toyota? Or are their TV ads misleading, as the ads from decades ago which proclaimed “At Ford Quality Is Job One”? This was the question in my mind as I returned to the Sharonville Transmission Plant after exactly 30 years. A long term friend, who did not jump ship in 1979 as I had done, when it looked like Ford was going to self destruct, got me past the guard post for a tour of the plant. Jerry had seen what he called “a compete transformation of Ford Motor Company” during his 37 years. He said I would not recognize the place.
I have nothing against the Toyota Prius. It’s the car’s mystique that irks me. You know what I’m talking about: the whole “Toyota Pious” thing. As someone who’s read rational reports from Prius-owning TAC commentators, as a pistonhead who understands that there’s more to driving a Ferrari than beauty and performance, I swear I’m OK with the hybrid’s PC mantle. But the Prius’s high MPG numbers and green street cred tends to stifle the debate on some important points.
[This editorial was sent to us by Charley Territo from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.] For the past eight years, a group that represents aftermarket parts suppliers has lobbied in Congress and state houses across the country for legislation that would give them free access to the intellectual property of automakers. Automakers spend more on research and development than any other industry. The proponents of this legislation can’t keep up. Their hope is that passage of Right to Repair would cut down on the costs and time needed to develop aftermarket parts to compete with OEMs. In practice, this legislation would do nothing to address the problems the CARE coalition says exist. It is a solution in search of a problem.
[The following is another contribution from our anonymous ChryCo contact] I worked for Chrysler for many years in Product Development as a Design Engineer though I no longer do. I saw comments on a recent post by another employee asking why, when Chrysler merged with Daimler, did they still share platforms with Mitsubishi?
[written by TTAC commentator FreedMike] I’ve been shopping these two cars (much to the annoyance of the local BMW and Infiniti dealers, but, hey, it’s MY 40 large, not YOURS, so I’ll be picky if I wanna be). So I’m VERY familiar with them. I don’t know why TTAC’s comparison was between the 324-hp G37 and a 328 that gives up about 100 HP. The G37 will eat the 328 for lunch. The real comparison is between the G37 and the 335.
In response to Jack Baruth’s editorial, Mike Stone writes:
I have been making the same 60-mile round trip commute for many years, my route consisting of rural 2 lane roads and expressways. During the course of every winter, regular as clockwork, I see 5 to 10 vehicles that have run off the road in icy, snowy or wet conditions. Some of these are clearly a result of excessive speed but on two occasions, I have been behind a vehicle that was travelling at or below a safe speed when it simply lost control. What could cause such a thing? A clue lies in a well-documented statistic that 93% of all traffic accidents are the result of human error.
In 1971, U.S. Senator Roman Hruska rose to the defense of an undistinguished Supreme Court nominee named G. Harrold Carswell. "Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they?" And their successors are entitled to wheels befitting their station in life, like the Saturn Vue Green Line.
Soccer Moms who adopted fossil-feasting truck-based SUVs for their parental duties know the truth: the genre is falling from fashion faster than Sony’s PS2. Style-conscious sprog schleppers now want a spacious rug-rat mover that doesn’t drain tanker trucks or scream mommy-van. For them, crossovers are The Next Big Thing. They’re eyeing vehicles like the new Saturn Outlook, the first of GM’s all-new Lambda platform-based crossovers (the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave are set to follow). The Outlook replaces the TWAT-winning Relay minivan– which isn’t exactly a tough act to follow. Still, will the Outlook break a leg?