In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all. One night my parents tossed me […]
Posts By: Tony Sterbenc
This website has stood out front in condemning the pro-corporate cowardice of the paper car mags, and rightly so. But when they show some courage and get it right, they deserve a shout-out. In the proud TTAC tradition of recognizing all viewpoints, I salute Jamie Kitman’s latest column in Automobile. Kitman’s point: the United Auto Workers (UAW) make a handy whipping boy, but contrary to the new conventional wisdom, they are not the Great Satan that sank our auto industry. In fact, the money the UAW made for decades was a good thing. “Courage,” you say? If you’re like many here, that’s not the adjective you’d use . . .
My name is Tony and I’m an ex-VW owner. Like most exes, it’s taken me a couple of decades to overcome my bitterness to the point where I can render objective judgment on the German automaker’s products. As a test drive reveals nothing about long-term reliability, I will mention it no more and judge the facts at hand. One of which is Volkswagen automobiles are still beset with mechanical and electrical gremlins. Damn! So, the Jetta. Nice looking car, eh?
As I drove to my neighborhood Kia dealer, the window signage caught my eye. Actually, make that grabbed both eyeballs and ripped them out, Oedipus-style. DRIVE TODAY! NO CREDIT! BAD CREDIT! I wondered how long before the words “What price are you looking to pay?” would effect the same injury to my ears. While dealerships like this make Kia’s 100,000 mile warranty look like a mixed blessing, let’s face it: they know their market. As does the Kia Optima.
I grew up in a working-class town where “Buy American” ranked just above “Go to church.” Chrysler cured me of my automotive illusions. One day, the engine fell out of my first new car, a ’79 Plymouth Horizon. At 30k miles. The local dealer, the zone office, and then the factory solemnly informed me that my 12/12 warranty was over, so Up Mine. And yet I have family and friends who’ve kept the faith to this day. As The Big 2.8’s fuselage prepares for its final meeting with terra firma, I know it’s wrong to snigger at Detroit’s woes. But I’m laughing to keep from crying.
True story: as a kid, every fall I’d ride my single-speed bike three miles to the local Chevy dealer. Inexplicably, the dealer staff let this mouthy, curious kid sit in their expensive, newly launched iron. In the autumn of 1968, I clambered into a brand spankin’ new ’69 Impala. Its lines were angular where the old ones were bulbous. As a “Chevy man” (boy), I was ready to show it some major love. But one detail grabbed my eye and just wouldn’t let go. Unlike previous Impalas, the dash and doors were covered with very large expanses of fake wood. A pet peeve was born.