Some fans of this website might call it an econobox. Others, who obviously don’t know better, might even call it a “penalty box.” But to Aliza McKeigue, 25, the humble 2001 Toyota Corolla is a beloved companion. She refers to the car affectionately in the third person singular, feminine.
So when Aliza left Boston, Massachusetts in January 2015, for what she thought was going to be six months of WWOOFing in Hawaii (that awkward acronym stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), she left the car at the old family home with her father and brother. But she soon found herself wanting to stay indefinitely, and began considering her longer term transportation options. Among other things, she had started recycling stuff — collectable and otherwise — at a local market, a business that she calls Funky Finds. She needed a vehicle. The more she looked at local used cars, the more she wanted her Corolla.
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In a 1992 op-ed that appeared in the Indianapolis Star and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, I expounded on the predictions of the MIT-based authors of “The Machine That Changed the World”, and lean production. I cited that book, and Consumer Reports’ glowing review of the Saturn as evidence that real competition could make the U.S. auto industry great once again. Subsequently, I bought a Saturn, which ultimately proved inferior in durability to the car I had shopped it against, the Integra. Looking back more than two decades, how have we succeeded, and how have we failed, and how did the MIT authors’ predictions hold up?
Few experts would have predicted that an all new American car could have matched the first year reliability of the Toyotas and Hondas, the best of the Japanese. Yet General Motors’ Saturn did just that, according to the April Consumer Reports.
On top of that, the car has all the practical appeal of the old Volkswagen Beetle. The plastic body panels are built to take parking lot abuse without denting or scratching. But damaged panels can be replaced easily and inexpensively. How many people does it take to change a headlight on a Saturn? Just one, and it’s as easy as changing a lightbulb.
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This “barn find” was found at Johnnie’s Sales and Service just the other week, down on Warwick Rd., somewhere in the middle of Massachusetts, where the car has sat for… seems no-one hereabouts can quite remember. Read More >