Daily Podcast: The Geography of Nowhere

daily podcast the geography of nowhere

I remember when Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen were all subsets of a larger brand: "German car." Although Mercedes best exemplified what is now called the moniker's "mindspace," all three German manufacturers were known for selling better-built cars than American machines. And don't tell me they weren't. Read Arthur Haley's seminal work "Wheels" and you'll appreciate Detroit's horrifically lackadaisacal attitude to product quality during the 60's and 70's. Suffice it to say, the exploding Ford Pinto was neither a surprise nor an aberration. When VW went native, becoming the first foreign manufacturer to plant its factory flag on American soil, the results were, initially, disastrous. Fortunately for VW, the brand's German car rep was so strong the company survived its own inability to build quality products on U.S. soil. And then Mexico. And Brazil. These days, everyone builds cars everywhere. Although globalisation has forced Americans to build better cars, I reckon it's removed something important from the car branding equation. Can Alabama or South Africa build a world-class automobile? Of course. Is the result something less than a "real" Mercedes? At the risk of pissing off the entire planet, I'd say yes. I can tell the difference. In the same sense, I can tell a "real" Cadillac from a Sigma-platformed, Nürburgring-fettled, European sports sedan wannabe. Is the difference all in my head? Of course. Where else would it be?

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  • The Flexible Despot The Flexible Despot on Nov 20, 2007

    Dinu: So you are one of the 3-4 listeners of the podcast. I'm one. That means we are perhaps the majority of the listening audience. I second your question regarding why the podcasts are not placed in the "Podcast" section of the website. The majority has spoken. As for this whole Cadillac controversy, where I am down South, Cadillac is basically a car for old folks that want to splurge, as opposed to just getting a Buick or Crown Vic. If you aren't drawing Social Security, I am not sure they'd even sell you one. Now if the reviewer is saying the Cadillac is not a "real" Cadillac because this cohort isn't gonna buy one, he may have a point. But then I'd say "Good riddance" to that so-called "real" Cadillac, and welcome to the new "pseudo" Cadillac. Cadillac finally makes a turn in the dirction of making a car someone under 65 would want to drive...and they get flack from a reviewer at TTAC because of it. Are you kidding me?! If that is destroying the brand, then this is a brand that needed to reinvent itself.

  • Robert Farago Robert Farago on Nov 20, 2007
    The Flexible Despot : Dinu: So you are one of the 3-4 listeners of the podcast. I’m one. That means we are perhaps the majority of the listening audience. I second your question regarding why the podcasts are not placed in the “Podcast” section of the website. The majority has spoken. I hear ya. Thanks to our boffins, the podcasts now appear as both news blog items AND podcasts. How great is that?

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Nov 20, 2007

    I still wish the CTS was a Pontiac. Not literally, but that Pontiac occupied the luxo-sports market. I'm talkin' 1960s Pontiac: back then it was 8-lug wheels, real wood trim, class leading powertrains, independent rear suspensions...all the stuff that Pontiac used to stand for is what they SHOULD stand for right now. Those who think Cadillac should occupy their current spot aren't remembering the glory days of GM. More importantly, the unassailable days of pure profit. Brand degradation didn't start with the CTS, nor the Cimarron--it was probably the entry level Calais models of the late 1960s--but Cadillac is holding itself back with the CTS. Until Cadillac moves up, Buick and Pontiac are doomed to even more overlapping products and poor performance. At some point the downward spiral will hit rock bottom for those two brands.

  • Dinu Dinu on Nov 20, 2007

    This is too good Robert! Thanks! You know how much I like podcasts? I got the new Nano just for TTAC (but now use it for other great podcasts too). And for the record: I'm a 27 yr old guy and b/c of the arrival of the new CTS, I finally stepped inside a Cadillac dealership a few weeks ago, so they (GM) must be doing something right. A back to back test drive of the Bu, Accord and 6 is next to see how they all compare.

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