Hammer Time: A Time to Kill

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time a time to kill

Orlando is the unpopular car capital of the world. You name the dying models and brands. The City the Mouse Built has them in abundance. As I was counting the Mitsubishis and Chryslers on my way to a Disney Cruise, my mind began to wander and wonder. What if we avoided all these wasted resources? Surely there must be a few kindly politicians out there who can appreciate the more fiscally conservative amongst us. Somebody? Anybody? Bueller?

Fat chance. When I was through with my fifteen second daydream, the reality of my drive took over. Cheap plastic everywhere. The 2004 Grand Caravan seemed like a collection of plastic molds that had haphazardly fell into place with the stingiest numbers of screws. I literally measured the depth of my seat fabric with my fingernail and the car literally rattled and jingled with every bump on the road. Sure it was cheap; Kia-cheap in fact. But the cost of living with that cheapness was starting to wear on my soul that day.

So that’s one model in the “waste” category. How about the brand? Maybe. Dodge is synonymous with “affordable” or “cheap” in most of the automotive world. It may be the perfect platform for the Chinese . . . at the right price of course.

But how about companies like Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Volvo? Other than a few interesting specialty models there really isn’t much there there. Every GM brand, with the possible exceptions of Chevrolet and Cadillac, is convoluted and cannibalistic. So is Mercury, flirtatious middle-aged woman be damned. Lincoln’s core strengths and brand image are from a bygone era. They need to go, too. Who else?

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4 of 44 comments
  • Billc83 Billc83 on Mar 16, 2009
    Finally, it should be against the law to define cars with numbers or acronyms. Either name it or kill it. The Merkur XR4Ti does not approve...
  • Dave M. Dave M. on Mar 17, 2009
    Consumer Reports, unbiased? Yeah, right, and pigs can fly. Sorry, but they are considered the Bible of consumer testing, like it or not. I thought the old Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager and Mazda MPV were great ideas - smaller vans with some handling.
  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Mar 17, 2009

    eggsalad, one of the reasons the 1st generation Scion XB did so well was because it filled a niche that the Chrysler minivans had abdicated. I'm a BIG fan of square boxes that are easy to keep up and get over 30 mpg. Truth be told, that design is the most intelligent one for most family's and folks who want to actually haul a little something. I think they're far better for the real world.

  • Countryboy Countryboy on Mar 18, 2009

    As always, i'm a little confused about the point or conclusion of this writer's post. But one of the best things about posting on a website or internet page, is that those musings remain almost in perpetuity. For an eyeopener, try Googling any of the blogs, testimonies, or opinions related to the housing meltdown we are now experiencing. These chagrined former geniuses are mostly all on record as saying "no problem..no problem..please move along now" What's that got to do with anything? Here are some quotes that are memorialized in a "well known" auto enthusiat blog: Want to guess who made them? OK, I’ll go through the list. Brands to Kill: Buick, Hummer Saturn Pontiac, GMC, Saab, Volvo, Lincoln, Mercury, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Scion, Jaguar and… VW Routan “The best deals in this business usually come when competition is constrained on several fronts. For example, I bought a mid-level 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan SE this past Thursday for $2200. The 101,000 miles on it kept the vehicle out of reach for all those dealers who depend on finance companies that have cutoff’s at the 80k or 100k mark. It was also bought at a public auction where dealers are fewer, and the opportunity to collude is greater.” “Also, I cater to the non-enthusiast buyer and have cars that reflect it. I buy a LOT of minivans. They are the anti-image cars, and along with Buicks, Volvos and other “older person” cars, they attract the type of folks I like” “In fact, if I ever were able to focus on purchasing specific cars, both of these Volvos would be on my short list. The bulletproof red brick B234 engine, classic rear wheel-drive architecture and simplicity of service make these Swedish vehicles a virtual W123 equivalent– without the weight and price penalty. If I ever move to Maine, I might even start a rental car business using old Volvos like these.” “I also got a 1996 Mitsubishi Mirage with 46k miles for $900” “Minivans are usually even cheaper than most midsized cars these days at the auctions. Most folks in suburbia who ‘haul stuff and people’ are better served buying one over a pickup or SUV. But again, un-hipness keeps some away while others, mostly older folks, couldn’t care less.” Talk about schizophrenic double talk. We're advocating killing of private businesses or car families because we see too may of them in a city in Florida? Because they don't sell enough units per year? Because they use too much plastic? And what materials would be accepatble? Brushed aluminum panels, since diamond plate chromed steel might be a little weight prohibitive. Burled walnut panels for a family hauler? IMHO, the xB is not, nor was intended to be in the same genre as a Chryco type minivan. It's a total apples and oranges comparison if you consider the simple fact of 2-rows of buckets vs. 3 row seating. Not to mention "potential" light 3500 lb. trailering capabilty. That's a huge diference. Simply because it's "squarish" looking, has a tailgate, and a cargo area does NOT make it a one-on-one competitor. If that would be the case, we could add a whole bunch of Souls, Cubes, Venzas, Matrixes, xD's, Versa S's; PT Cruisers, HHR's, AVEO 5's; Focus ZX5s; Rio Cinco's; Suzuki SX4's, Freestyles, etc and debate all day. They all have their differences, in many cases significant. No the Chryco is designed to compete in the MINIVAN segment which includes the Sienna, Odyssey, Sedona, Nissan Quest, former Mazda MPV, and possibly and only possibly, the Kia Rondo and/or Mazda5. These vehicles still provide the most bang for the buck. But it's clear that it's not hip to be in a minivan, hence the newest charade perpetrated on the idiotic car buying public - THE super-zized, fuel guzzling, but high profit generating CUV. I think I saw the prequel to this movie..wasn't it called "THE SUV"? This lends itself quite nicely to people who feel they have to be ensconced in burled walnut, heated leather seats, talking computers, DVD for everyone, and obscenely priced 19" rolling rubber, but just couldn't bear the thought of their 5 year old coloring on the cheap plactic interior of a minivan.