By on May 7, 2008

obama-bumpercars533.jpgBarack Obama is something of a car guy. According to The Detroit News, one of Obama's (likely numerous) regrets about running for President: the Secret Service won't let him drive. "It's a drag because I actually enjoy driving." But it wasn't always so. "The car I learned to drive on was my grandfather's Ford Granada," Barack told Indianapolis radio station WFBQ. "It may be the worst car that Detroit ever built… This thing was a tin can. [Detroit was] trying to compete with the Japanese. They wanted to keep the cars big, so they made them out of tin foil… You basically couldn't go over 80 (miles per hour) without the thing getting out of control." Their perfidy didn't end there, though. "Detroit ended up making investments in SUVs and large trucks because that's where they perceived a competitive advantage," Obama told Meet the Press. "And that's where they felt they could make the most profit… I think it was a mistake for them not to plan earlier, and now we're seeing a huge growth in fuel-efficient cars that is benefiting the Japanese automakers and Detroit is getting pounded." For all of Obama's Motown-mauling, the Senator from Illinois' one with the the industry's belief that the gas tax is probably a good thing. Still, Hillary's desperate offer of an industry bailout probably makes her the top Dem choice for industry types. We're waiting to hear her take on malaise-era metal. 

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41 Comments on “Obama: Ford Granada “Worst Car Detroit Ever Built”...”


  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Obama: “It may be the worst car that Detroit ever built”

    Just goes to show he’s not a real car guy. The Granada was highly average/typical for the (awful) times.

    Seriously, Obama gets the “truth” well enough.

  • avatar
    mxfive4

    “Detroit ended up making investments in SUVs and large trucks because that’s where they perceived a competitive advantage and that’s where they felt they could make the most profit,” Obama told “Meet the Press” anchor Tim Russert. “I think it was a mistake for them not to plan earlier, and now we’re seeing a huge growth in fuel-efficient cars that is benefiting the Japanese automakers and Detroit is getting pounded.”

    Nice… a politician who can state the obvious without reservation. That my friends, in this era of 24/7 buzzword bingo political coverage is as close as you get to genuine.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    Actually, I think the Pinto and the Vega were the worst of that era. How about the Chevy Monza, a comtemporary model where in some versions (probably with a 6 cyl engine) one had to unbolt the whole engine and raise it in order to change some of the spark plugs?

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Boy…old Barack Hussein Obama seems awful BITTER about his fist Detroit ride.

    Must be why he CLINGS to bitter anti-american pastors like Rev Wright who can’t seem to find one good thing to say about America.

    Wonder if would have been happier driving in one of those unsafe Toyohonda rustbuckets from the same period ?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Before the secret service took over he was driving a Chrysler 300. Good choice! I think he’s a car guy.

  • avatar
    Mj0lnir

    They did have a competitive advantage in trucks and SUV’s, and they did make most of their profits on them.

    Their failure was not re-investing those profits in areas they were less competitive in to hedge their bets.

    If gas prices hadn’t gone insane we’d be talking about how smart Toyota was for designing products to compete with Detroit’s bread and butter.

    That’s the business model we’re saying GM should have followed- lean on your strengths and make your weaknesses stronger/plan for the future.

    If GM is stupid for not seeing the coming firestorm and investing in efficient cars, that makes Toyota stupid for not seeing the coming firestorm and investing in trucks.

    Having aid that, it is nice to see a politician telling the truth, isn’t it?

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Now, now…

    I was stuck in a Malaise Era car myself — a K-car! Which I could argue calls the senator’s Ford and raises him two rusted-through fenders and a collapsed headliner.

    If he’s bitter, I’m alltheway, downright pissed.

    But pissed about the car. Just the godforsaken, absolutely, fantastically awful car.

    My mild-mannered Lutheran pastor had nothing to do with it.

  • avatar
    night driver

    The “competitive advantage” was just a rational response to the loophole in the CAFE fuel economy legislation of the ’70s and ’80s, which enabled SUV’s to be classified as light trucks. We will find out soon enough if the new 35MPG standards will also contain holes large enough to drive a light truck through.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I find Obama’s comments on Detroit rather insightful, for a politician at least.

    He’s right about the Granada — that was serious junk Ford was peddling, although I’d argue the two door was worse, if only because it featured a rear “twindow.”

    Maybe the Mercury version was worse, if only because it added pretension to the mix.

  • avatar
    AKM

    @ umterp85 : how about not going all political?

    @juniper: It was even a 300C, which he got slammed for owning while bashing Detroit’s inability to build small cars. Pretty funny and contradictory, but yeah, the guy looks like he enjoys having a big V8 under his right foot.

  • avatar
    Orian

    It’s ok Umterp – McCain is hanging on to his reverend who believes Katrina was a well deserved natural disaster. At least Obama had the cajones to publicly denounce his former pastor and separate himself from it.

    My Grandmother had a 70’s two door Granada. She scared the bejesus out of my sister and I on car trips as she could barely see over the dash (but just under the upper rim of the steering wheel), not to mention the way it rode.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Orian: At least Obama had the cajones to publicly denounce his former pastor and separate himself from it.

    No…he initially hemmed and hawed around about it, until the Rev. Wright refused to shut up and basically backed him into a corner. That hardly shows the possession of any “cojones” to me.

    As for bashing the Granada – it was hardly an enthusiast’s wet dream, but it was a perfectly decent car for the time. It was simple, sturdy and reliable (strong I-6 and V-8s). Hardly the worst car Detroit ever produced, or the worst car of the 1970s, or even the worst compact (that dubious honor would go to the Aspen/Volare).

  • avatar
    brownie

    I remember reading about his 300C when he was basically forced to trade it in for an Escape hybrid (the latest political accesory du jour – “Panders to environmentalists, car executives AND the UAW!”). Something about it made me think that he is indeed the kind of guy who would be right at home on a site like this, and I genuinely felt bad that he had to give up a car he genuinely loved to appease an unsympathetic electorate. Hopefully an Obama presidency will mean car nuts won’t be demonized for the next 4-8 years…

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    I owned Pontiac Astre. Obama doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  • avatar
    geeber

    brownie: Something about it made me think that he is indeed the kind of guy who would be right at home on a site like this, and I genuinely felt bad that he had to give up a car he genuinely loved to appease an unsympathetic electorate.

    He gave up the Chrysler 300C because he had made public comments criticizing companies for investing in “bigger, faster cars”.

    Of course they did, because people like Obama were buying them until the recent run-up in gasoline prices. DUH!

    In 2006 he said that “the blame for the world’s higher temperature rests on gas guzzling vehicles.” I guess this would include the Chrysler 300C, because, while it has many attributes, it is hardly noted for being a fuel-economy champ.

    The only reason he had to appease an unsympathetic electorate is because he chose to spout off about the issue in the first place.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Orian: FYI… I am no McCain fan either. Rather—I am pretty disgusted with most politicians these days because they are beholden to the extremes of their parties. I find them all rather hypocritical—Obama is no exception as witnessed by the 300C trade-in deal disscussed on this thread.

    BTW—of all the recent presidents—Clinton seemed to be the most gearheaded—I think he still has his ’65 Mustang. Don’t know about the carpet bedded El Camino though.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    No…he initially hemmed and hawed around about it, until the Rev. Wright refused to shut up and basically backed him into a corner. That hardly shows the possession of any “cojones” to me.

    Not that I’m looking for a political ‘tangle’ (I can go to Hillaryis44 for that…), but I was disappointed he ‘dismissed’ Wright last week. It took more cojones to NOT trash Wright back in March when the story broke. The man was his spiritual leader, that’s all. Obama didn’t have him writing policy, serving as an ambassador, etc.

    Fr. Carl denounces, sometimes strongly, pre-marital coitus, homosexuality, abortion, divorce and a host of other activities and events where I don’t agree with his view. But I still love Fr. Carl since he’s been an anchor of my spirituality for the past 15 years.

    Finally, the Granada was a pretty decent ride for its day. I’d have to go with the Vega-Pinto-Aspen for the ultimate garbage back in the day.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    You should change the headline of this story to: “McCain Wins Michigan’s 17 Electoral Votes Six Months Before Election.”

    Those auto workers can’t handle the truth. He would have been better off if he had lied and claimed that he always wanted a Camaro.

    And since the primaries are still in play, we’ll soon be hearing how Hillary always loved the Vega, and wouldn’t have been caught dead in a VW Beetle.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    You can tell when Osama is lying by the fact he is moving his lips. That Granada is probably the only 70’s car he has driven, which is why it is not only the worst one, but the best one as well, depending on whom he is speaking.

    The guy is as smarmy as a used car salesman. What is surprising is how many seemingly well educated people fall for it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    You can tell when Osama is lying by the fact he is moving his lips.

    I’ve seen those videos of Osama in his cave, talking about jihad. But he isn’t the subject of this article.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I think night rider is right, plus the US never taxed gas like rest of world, keeping it cheap, so its the GOVERNMENT that created the hole in world car market for US to go SUV crazy. GM did what was expected of it with market slots, its too bad they conceded all quality issues to Japan.

  • avatar
    50merc

    The Granada was “the worst car Detroit ever built”? Now, that’s political hyperbole for you.

    As for it being a “tin can,” Consumer Reports’ reliability surveys show the Granada’s body integrity, etc. to be average. The trouble spots were under the hood–cooling, ignition, fuel system–and exhaust and suspension. Just a typical Detroit product of the times.

    If Obama learned to drive at sixteen, that Granada couldn’t have been more than a couple years old. Maybe it had seen hard service in Joey Chitwood’s Thrill Show.

    I suspect Obama’s opinion of that Granada stems mostly from from feeling humiliated when his teenage friends saw him driving a dorky-looking geezermobile.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Wow, a politician who is able to tell the truth about not being impressed with the Ford Granada he learned to drive on. Normally we get the pandering “I have fond memories of the rugged, all-American cars I grew up with and if only we ______ then we can have those days back again.”

  • avatar

    Who chose the photo and wrote the caption for it? VERY FUNNY!!!

  • avatar

    The “competitive advantage” was just a rational response to the loophole in the CAFE fuel economy legislation of the ’70s and ’80s, which enabled SUV’s to be classified as light trucks.

    Loopholes the industry lobbied heavily for

  • avatar

    BTW—of all the recent presidents—Clinton seemed to be the most gearheaded—I think he still has his ‘65 Mustang. Don’t know about the carpet bedded El Camino though.

    Clinton’s mustang is a ’67, and it’s in an Arkansas car museum–sorry, do’nt remember which museum. I also can’t remember whether Clinton still owns the car, or gave it to the museum.

    Gingrich also has, or had a ’67 Mustang.

  • avatar

    I think people are making far too much of Obama’s statement about how bad the Granada was. When he made the statement, he was probably subconsciously comparing the Granada to his old 300C. Also, gee, you know, I often say that the ’57 chevy my parents had was a POS. Well, in that day and age, it probably wasn’t. But by today’s standards it was unbelievably bad. I’d had to have everything I said about that car parsed by the automotive intelligencia.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Any know what his wife gets to haul the girls around in?

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    I need to figure out how to download photos offa my cellphone. Where I go jeeping, there is a rusted hulk of a Granada that has been shot at, severely weathered, beer-pissed on for decades. Once the first truck succeeded in driving over top of it and crushing it some, it was only a matter of time before it virtually became an off-road speedbump. I don’t know how many pictures have been snapped with a Jeep standing proudly on top of it.

    My driver’s ed car was a Granada with the six. ohmygawd, slower than the second coming of Christ. Top speed was an achingly slow 65 mph or so.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I had a Granada briefly as my first car. I thought it drove pretty decent. I certainly could drive it over 80 MPH. (but not by much)
    It had a V8 so that might be why it felt better for me.
    122 HP!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    He obviously never had a Fairmont

  • avatar

    I’ve drove a late 70’s era Grenada once and it was one of the worst cars of that era.

  • avatar
    Adub

    +1 on the Fairmont.

    The last ones were terrible, longer than a Lincoln but smaller inside than an Escort. My late grandmother had an ’81 with a four cylinder and not only was it so slow as to be dangerous, but it never broke 20 mpg even on the highway.

  • avatar
    big_gms

    I’ve driven a 1980 Ford Granada that my dad had years ago. It wasn’t thought out very well at all and was just in general a bad design. However, I wouldn’t say it was the worst car of the era. The Volare/Aspen twins were even worse, as were the Vega, Pinto and all of their derivatives. My Grandparents had a 1978 Volare and that car was far worse than any Granada. I can say that car was absolutely horrible by any standard you can think of and that doesn’t even begin to adequately describe how bad it truly was. You could probably find some junkyard cars today that are better than that Volare was when new.

    Back to the Granada, Obama has no idea what he’s talking about if he’s referring to one of the earlier models. The Granada was not made out of “tin foil” as he says. The sheet metal on those cars was solid, at least until it rusted through. The doors closed with a solid thunk and the Granada was fairly porky for its size. If anything, it was built kind of like a tank. I’m talking about the original 1975-80 models. The 1981-82 Granada, which was little more than a face lifted Fairmont, was decidedly flimsy.

    As a side note, does anyone remember the Lincoln Versailles? It was intended to compete with the Cadillac Seville. It was a Granada dressed up with a Lincoln style grille, spare tire hump and thick padded vinyl top. Truly a dreadful car.

  • avatar
    picard234

    Did anyone hear the Obama clip? I didn’t, but I suspect he might have been saying this in a joking manner.

    He had to trade in the 300C because 1) it’s made in Canada and 2) obviously, it’s not the most fuel-efficient car.

    I agree with some other comments that Obama deserves kudos for having the balls to state the obvious. His take on the “gas tax holiday” is absolutely correct, too.

    I’m just curious why he didn’t pick a Taurus, Taurus X, or Sable (Five-Hundred, Freestyle, or Montego) built in his hometown of Chicago. If I were running for president, I would probably suck it up and buy a vehicle made in my hometown which would be a Sebring or Avenger. Thank goodness I have no such aspirations!

  • avatar
    geeber

    Obama is probably looking at his grandparents’ Granada the way that I looked at the 1976 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale hardtop sedan my parents had when I learend to drive.

    Namely, it wasn’t fast and its suspension was definitely tuned more for the plush ride as opposed to razor-sharp handling. It screamed “mom and dad’s car” every time I drove it somewhere.

    People didn’t buy Delta 88s – or Granadas – for duty at the autocross or to take on Porsches on country roads.

    The Granada’s big sales pitch was that it offered a quiet, luxurious interior (especially the Ghia versions – remember those?) and big-car gadgets in a smaller, easier-to-park car. It was sturdy, relatively reliable (by 1970s standards) and easy to repair when something did go wrong.

    If you had blindfolded the average 1970s car buyer and put him/her in a Granada and, say, a BMW from that time, and had them touch the seats and carpet, rate the air conditioning and stereo, and then take them for a ride on the freeway, at least 80+ percent would have preferred the Granada.

    The car did what it was supposed to, which is more than can be said about a fair number of cars, foreign and domestic, produced during the second half of the 1970s. That doesn’t make it a great car, but it’s hardly the worst car ever built by Detroit.

  • avatar
    essen

    Others here have said it – The Vega, Pinto and Volare/Aspen were worse the Granada/Merc equivalent-I forgot what the called it. The Granada was a luxed-up version of a Ford Falcon, a gas-efficient(?) alternative to a full-size sedan that Ford marketed as a Mercedes equivalent at a lower price. They did sell a lot of them.
    I remember the Lincoln Versailles, a pale imitation of the original Seville, which was a well-done gussied-up Chevy Nova. My friend dad traded in his 4-6-8 Caddy (remember them) for a Versailles but didn’t have it for long.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    I agree he was off with the tinfoil comment, but geez! It was a car opinion. It was no sillier than a lot of other people’s car opinions, and as someone suggested here, a lot more real than a lot of other comments by politicians. C’mon.

    As for the car, back in the glory days of C/D the magazine gave me one of my best laughs. They were testing the embarrassingly “Mercedes-styled” “sports” models, the Granada ESS. Their subhead: “Ford takes aim at Stuttgart and hits Muncie, Indiana.”

    I believe these cars traced their lineage to the pre-Fox/Fairmont era Ford Falcon (also the sire of the Mustang and Maverick). My personal nominee for Worst Car Ever, at least from this automotive family tree: the Granada’s illegitimate offspring, the continental-spare-equipped Lincoln Versailles. Its magazine ad used the word “engineering” about four times, presumably to overcompensate. Evidently Iacocca was determined to have his own Cimarron-level embarrassment. OMG, what an awful car.

  • avatar
    beken

    Umm…80 miles per hour. Wasn’t that the age of the double-nickel? I wonder how many speeding tickets he got.

  • avatar
    duncan36

    People are defending the Granada? It was one of the worst American cars ever.
    It was designed to look big and slightly opulent, but was cost cut to the bone everywhere. Crap steering, crap suspension, crap sheetmetal. It was uncomfortable to sit in with anything but the tip top trim and was huge but had 0 space inside.
    The way it drove made my ’83 Cutlass Cruiser feel like a sports car.
    I daresay if he had one with the 351 in it he wouldnt be so hard on it.
    But the V6 models were truly one of the worst cars ever.
    Also one I was riding in broke down in the middle of an intersection. I had to push it in 100 degree weather under a hail of honks and curses. So yeah I am with Obama I hate this car whats it to you.

  • avatar

    I have a 1980 ford granada and still run pretty good. Let me know if you want to buy it from me???

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