By on April 25, 2009

For the last decade or so, nostalgia has been big in the car biz. Does it work? If substance backs it up. To wit . . .

*  The MINI is a great drive.

*  The PT Cruiser is practical—easy to park yet plenty of hauling volume, especially if you remove the back seats.

*  The current Mustang has so much style it doesn’t need much substance, and it does have the muscle car thing going for it. (Fun fact: Mitt Romney drives a 2005. Chris Dodd was driving a late model ’stang until he started running for president. Then he traded it for an Escape Hybrid.)

*  The Miata is probably the best drive per dollar. It does that job so well that people often forget that it tips the ragtop to British roadsters of the mid-twentieth century.

* The New Microbus concept could have made minivans cool. I would have had trouble holding onto my wallet, and I’m a single guy. I want to drive it around America.

When it lacks substance, nostalgia doesn’t go very far . . .

*  The new T’bird was an expensive car that looked nice but didn’t do anything well.

*  The PT is an interesting styling concept, but a terrible execution. (Pokemon eyes on a retromobile???!) Good style doesn’t go stale, but the PT was stale almost out the door. It’s not a driver’s car and it’s not a reliable car. The original xB does everything better than the PT, and if you don’t care about cool, so does the Element. Another fatal mistake by the pentastar.

*  The Charger is a pale imitation of the original, as if some middle-schoolers tried to copy it with papier mâché, with a really mean face. The slit windows are annoyingly impractical on both the Charger and the Magnum.

*  Even the Camaro is weak in the styling department, for similar reasons, although the concept looked much better. Even if deus ex machina saves GM and the economy roars back, I predict mediocre sales.

Rule breaker . . .

*  The VW (Real) Beetle was a car that eschewed style for substance. It had so much practicality, from which it derived so much personality, that it became stylish. The New Beetle eschews substance for style. I’m not wild about it—too cutesy—but they did a really good job of cutesy, and a lot of people like that.

You can’t hang nostalgia on a name alone . . .

*  The “GTO” completely lacks the original’s panache. Imagine it next to the real thing. (G8 is a much better name for a Pontiac in this age of globalization. In fact, Pontiac should have had a top of the line G8, which they could have called the “Summit.” Then Larry Summers could have bought one.)

One reason we like retro is because it so often puts the “car” in charisma (or the other way around). Most of today’s vehicles have all the personality of a room air conditioner. But you can inject personality without invoking the past, if only the bean counters would get out of the way. Occasionally, they do . . .

*  The (real—gen 1) xB looks so cool that even my friend, Paul, a 53 year old family man with an aging Odyssey and an early ’00s Civic hatch with about 35,000 miles and a few dents that he calls his “pocket rocket,” whose life is far too interesting and successful for a midlife crisis, wants one. It’s also extremely practical; kind of a modern Old Beetle.

*  The original Saturn was another car that was cool without being retro, something that could happen because it was created outside of the usual GM channels. Too bad GM blew it.

*  The Acura Integra’s cool was a combination of major, yet inexpensive, fun, practicality, and better style than most anything on the road (even if it is still not nearly as stylish as, say, a Corvair).

*  The CRX was cheap, quick, agile, and honest.

*  The old, boxy Volvos look exactly like what they are, and they do their job well. (They are already becoming classics.)

*  The ’90s Caprices really look like they’re going to pull you over. I want to drive a black and white down the left lane and watch everybody get out of my way.

We wouldn’t need retro if there were more room for creativity in the big car companies. And we wouldn’t need it if all the once-great brands hadn’t completely lost touch with their heritage. Take Chevrolet. Through the mid-’60s, most of these were gorgeous pieces of commercial art. Despite the names of some of the modern models—Malibu, for instance—these cars bear little resemblance to and completely lack the artistry of their classical forebears. Of course, when even a Citroën looks like an appliance, you know the end of days is near.

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53 Comments on “Editorial: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be. Or Is It?...”


  • avatar

    I think the only nostalgia car to weather the storm will be Volkswagon’s Beetle.

  • avatar
    ConejoZing

    I know this is supposed to be about cars. However, dang I get nostalgic when I see a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Oh, before the Nintendo 64 ruined everything and made all the software developers go to Sony. I got that anniversary edition of Nintendo Power and OH MY WORD how it used to be. Some of those original illustrations for the original NES… so good.

    For me, being 28, I get nostalgic when I see (these vehicles) : a Ford Aerostar, an Audi 5000, a thrashy 80’s sportscar, or something that is really 90’s somehow (in a good way).

  • avatar

    Quite the idiosyncratic evaluation, where the Honda Element and Scion xB pass muster but the new Camaro lacks in the styling department.

    The problem with most retro designs is that they don’t fit in with the rest of the product line. If Chrysler had retained Plymouth and stocked it with the PT Cruiser, the Prowler, and one other retro model, the PT Cruiser would have been more viable. A styling update that actually improved the car might have also been a good idea. But viable in the long run? Probably not. The car was retro, but without any actual roots.

    The Thunderbird failed because there’s an itty-bitty marget for two-seat boulevardiers, and only secondarily because of product shortcomings. Like other cars that sell based on styling alone, it had a good first six months.

    Don’t forget Chevrolet’s SSR. All the shelf life of a novelty item. Everyone who’d been wanting a hardtop convertible pickup with limited cargo capacity bought one.

    The strength of MINI is they don’t try to make it part of an otherwise conventional product line. Imagine if it was a BMW. Of course, they’re trying to build an entire product line around the car. Because there’s huge pent-up demand for a MINI crossover. Sales will also take a hit when other cars of this size with interesting styling and decent performance become available in the U.S.

  • avatar
    pista

    Appliance? Someone needs to Google image “C6”

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I think that the people responsible for the retro Thunderbird looked at the prices that people will pay for restored 55-57 T-birds, when there are so many of those still around that they can be seen at any classic car auction, and thought there’d be a market for it. It’s probably every bit as competent as a 57 car, after all. Although there isn’t a direct antecedent for the SSR, I see the thinking there as very similar. It’s a vehicle that you could find in Hemmings Motor News in its first year of production, and probably one or two in every issue for the next thirty or forty years, always low mileage, excellent condition. The thing is not really meant to be driven, is it? Just kept under a cover in the garage and brought out on nice summer days. A Prowler with a pickup box.

    Now a Mustang, like the man said, there’s nostalgia with some substance. Even a 6-cylinder rental one can arouse envy in the neighbors, be thoroughly competent for a road trip, and you can drive it on a nice day with the windows open and the wind won’t tear your ear off. If the V6 doesn’t provide enough performance, there are plenty of 5-speed GT’s around, both new and used, let alone dozens of Shelby and Roush and Saleen cars. Incidentally, I see that the 2009 model lineup has been rearranged so the only V8 model is the GT. That makes sense to me. In a way it’s a filler model year, with the 2010’s coming out early.

  • avatar
    derm81

    The problem with the PT is that it was never maintained and revamped in major ways. It was an excellent idea, and had all the right things on paper. However, the Germans stripped it into a heap of recycled plastic.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Automotive styling (retro or otherwise) is only ever part of the equation and can never compensate for other problems. For example the Solstice/Sky look great but will never sell well until their flaws are corrected.

    However, retro styling is unique in some aspects in that it has the power to draw buyers in by positive association with some popular bygone product but it also runs the risk of looking dated and visually tired sooner than a fresh design. For example the first gen xB still looks good, the PT Cruiser doesn’t.

    The trick is to infuse the retro styling with enough progressive elements and visual originality to keep the design from going stale.

    To me, the exterior of the Camaro looks good but the inside does nothing for me while the 2010 Mustang is a great refinement of the 2005 redesign by adding some much needed complexity to the exterior lines. But where the Ford really wins is with the interior.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Another interesting question is: Where are those fabulous retro concepts that never made it into production?

    Why, oh why didn’t Ford capitalize on the ’61 Continental, and made a lead slead retro ride out of it? It would have been the perfect car to replace the Town Car. Or the next step up from the Chrysler 300. Retro, cool, stylish, with an overabundance of presence. It would have been the only american luxury car worth having…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    There are periodic rumors Porsche is looking at an updated 356 Speedster. I could go for one majorly.

    Vancouver’s Intermeccanica Custom Coach Builders makes a high quality replica.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Charger is a pale imitation of the original, as if some middle-schoolers tried to copy the it with papier mâché, with a really mean face.

    The current Charger should have been called the Coronet. To me, the “mean look” sedan of the present version reminds me of a 1970 Coronet. The “Super Bee” moniker would have still made sense too.

    We wouldn’t need retro if there were more room for creativity in the big car companies.

    The problem is that modern designs are resulting in things like the Panamera, X6, and TL. If that’s the alternative, then I hope companies keep retro designs.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The drive behind nostalgia is the aging of the odious Baby-Boomers. Unfortunately for them, the Great Depression has taken all of their assets, and they will not be able to afford to re-enact high school while they are dumpster diving to stretch their social security checks.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Well, it’s nice to see someone else subscribes to my theory about how cars can become stylish, or not stylish, based on other factors.

    Chrysler was on a role with a lot of new sheet metal a while back, and the cars looked great. But then they started falling apart, and all of a sudden, even a new one, looked ugly.

    Our sense of taste associates visual cues with things like quality. Things that work well, last long, and otherwise turn out to be good products, eventually become attractive to us.

  • avatar
    zenith

    Ah, yes! The practicality of the original Beetle!

    No heat, no defrost, no ventilation, no power, ridiculous interior noise levels.

    Highway MPG no better than a 1998 Olds 88’s.

  • avatar
    davey49

    ajla- The Charger is the Coronet in a sense. Good idea

    Robert Schwartz- that won’t be going on for long and there are simply too many boomers for them to be ignored as customers. There’s hate in your reply and I’m not sure if you are older and think they’re useless “punks” or younger and think of them as wacky “old folks”
    That being said, the boomers I know all seem to like SUVs and trucks.

    “Chrysler was on a role with a lot of new sheet metal a while back, and the cars looked great. But then they started falling apart, and all of a sudden, even a new one, looked ugly.
    Our sense of taste associates visual cues with things like quality. Things that work well, last long, and otherwise turn out to be good products, eventually become attractive to us.”

    You should go over to the post about Ford and say that. The Fusion is the car that is becoming “attractive” due to reliability.

  • avatar
    davey49

    “To me, the exterior of the Camaro looks good but the inside does nothing for me while the 2010 Mustang is a great refinement of the 2005 redesign by adding some much needed complexity to the exterior lines. But where the Ford really wins is with the interior.”

    You honestly care that much? If it weren’t for me always loving Mustangs I could toss a coin for either.

  • avatar
    A is A

    The VW (Real) Beetle was a car that eschewed style for substance. It had so much practicality…

    Really?.

    The (Old) Beetle…

    * …was underpowered.

    * …had horrendous Chevrolet Corvair-like handling.

    * …had a symbolic heating system.

    * …used space in a extremely unefficient way.

    * …was designed in a time when the concept of passive safety did not exist.

    * …had mediocre mileage, a price to pay to obtain engine longevity.

    The Beetle was a technically interesting car in the 1930s, but since the launch of the Mini (1959) it was a complete anachronism.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Davey49: People who do not have money are not customers.

    The Boomers played the grasshopper to their Parent’s ants. They spent everything they earned, “invested” their savings in dot-bomb stocks, bought big cars and big houses, took second mortgages on the houses and spent the proceeds gambling in Vegas. There is nothing left. That is why we are having a depression.

    It is their nostalgia for their “Glory Days” that has driven the automakers marketing plans. But, they are out of money, and they will not be buying new cars. OEMs should take note and forget nostalgia.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Ingvar: Why, oh why didn’t Ford capitalize on the ‘61 Continental, and made a lead slead retro ride out of it? It would have been the perfect car to replace the Town Car.

    On the one hand, I agree. On the other hand, I am terribly afraid they would have messed it up. It’s hard to imagine anything than actually reissuing the 1961 design as-is that wouldn’t run the risk of looking like a caricature.

  • avatar

    The Miata is probably the best drive per dollar. It does that job so well that people often forget that it tips the ragtop to British roadsters of the mid-twentieth century.

    “Tips the ragtop”??

    A bit more than that I’d say. Tom Matano, who designed the Miata told me that his design brief was to make a modern version of the Lotus Elan. I asked him about being the most successful sports car designer ever (they’ve sold more than 750,000 Miatas) and he said he was actually more proud of the final RX-7 because it was a blank sheet design, not copied from something else.

  • avatar

    Quite the idiosyncratic evaluation, where the Honda Element and Scion xB pass muster but the new Camaro lacks in the styling department.

    Michael,
    I wasn’t evaluating the Element on looks. If you read more carefully, I was saying that it has all the practicality of the PT, plus reliability and some fun-to-drive.

    I did forget about the SSR. Definitely a piece of very insubstantial nostalgia.

  • avatar

    The Beetle was a technically interesting car in the 1930s, but since the launch of the Mini (1959) it was a complete anachronism.

    I love the original Mini (my brother has an old Cooper) and Sir Alec Issognis is one of the greatest automotive engineers ever, but it does have one shortcoming compared to the Beetle. To save on space, the Mini’s crankcase and transmission share a housing and lubrication. That means the tranny gears are constantly chewing up the polymers in the oil and the transmission really isn’t lubricated properly because it isn’t using gearbox oil. The auto trans Minis are even worse.

  • avatar

    Those who see the old Beetle as impractical are forgetting a bunch of things that were eminently practical about this car in comparison to American cars of the day, which is the relevant comparison, even though your points are certainly correct. https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/review-used-car-classic-vw-beetle/

  • avatar

    I also forgot about the Solstice-Sky twins when I was writing this. They suffer badly in comparison to the Miata, which, for one thing, is ~400 lbs lighter. If I were in that market, the Miata would win hands down.

  • avatar
    shawa1221

    Just a definition from the online Webster dictonary;

    Nostalgia
    a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition

    That being said as far as money goes with inflation a top shelf caddy in the late 60s and early 70s with inflation would only cost in the low 30k range now. I am very sure I only repeating something from an earlier article on ttac.

    I also would sooner have the real cars we are all talking about because smart people have re-engineered many add ons to make old cars new again in suspension and or motive power departments, for those truly concerned with safety can buy something new and hopefully something reliable.

    This all being said , I want a 1969 Black COPO Camaro with the ZL1 427, and JL8 rear axle, and a 1984 BJ 42 Toyota Land Cruiser (Never imported to USA but they were to Canada its a 3.4L 4cyl diesel with 24v electrics)

  • avatar
    amarks

    Every generation will define retro differently. It’s really too bad they can’t make cars with pop-up headlights anymore…

  • avatar

    @ Robert Schwartz:

    Your characterization of boomers is absurd and totally inaccurate generalization. For one thing, the boomers range from ~44-early 60s, and a lot of younger and older people contributed to the current troubles. For another, most of my many friends are boomers, and they did none of the things you accuse them of doing.

  • avatar

    Ronnie,
    Maybe you should write an editorial about your conversation with the Miata’s designer. Sounds very interesting.

  • avatar
    derm81

    Let me ask….what is the future of retro styling? Come on, 25 years form now I highly doubt my generation will want a rerto Camry or Accord. I think the “retro” movement will die with the baby boomers simply because they have more passion for vehicles than younger generations.

  • avatar

    I did forget about the SSR. Definitely a piece of very insubstantial nostalgia.

    It was, however, profitable because according to market research it helped GM sell about 70,000 BOF trucks a year. The SSR was nothing more than a halo vehicle to increase showroom traffic. At capacity, the Lansing Craft Center could build enough SSRs to supply each Chevy dealer with a grand total of three vehicles a year.

  • avatar

    Ronnie,
    Maybe you should write an editorial about your conversation with the Miata’s designer. Sounds very interesting.

    He was very gracious but it wasn’t a very long conversation so there’s not much more than I already related.

    I think that what I enjoy the most about working the auto shows is getting to talk to the designers. Over the years, doing embroidery designs of cars I’ve gained a lot of appreciation for what they do. Most of the designers working for major automakers are incredibly talented. The ability to take an inanimate object and make it evoke emotion is a magical thing. That being said, J. Mays still comes across as pompous ass.

  • avatar

    Damn, well, amazing, Ronnie. I see maybe 2 SSRs on the road a year. I probably see an equal number of 59 Chevies.

    @Derm81 sounds logical to me. I think it’s true that we boomers are more excited about cars. Partly, I think cars were so much more visually exciting during our formative years than they have been since. Additionally, part of the attraction of cars for us had to do with their effect on social life. Cell phones and the internet have certainly revolutionized social life, probably making cars relatively less important. My 15 year old nephew visits with his friends via his x-box. Weird (to me).

  • avatar

    This all being said , I want a 1969 Black COPO Camaro with the ZL1 427, and JL8 rear axle, and a 1984 BJ 42 Toyota Land Cruiser (Never imported to USA but they were to Canada its a 3.4L 4cyl diesel with 24v electrics)

    I’ll settle for the money to restore my Elan.

  • avatar

    Ronnie,

    which auto shows do the designers show up at? Aside from classic car shows, I’ve only been to the auto show in Boston, and I think it’s a bit off the beaten track–certainly never met up with any designers there.

  • avatar

    The cars that will arouse nostalgia in the future are ones that the current generation had or wanted when then were teenagers, I think. I have a feeling that some of the Japanese supercars of the 90s (RX-7, Supra Turbo, 300ZX Twin Turbo, et al) will go that route in a few years. They were desirable performance cars that didn’t sell well at the time because they’d priced themselves out of reach of the under-25 set, at a time when the Boomers were starting the SUV craze. Some of them are relatively rare, and finding one that hasn’t been modified to hell and gone or wrapped around a pole will be challenging, which will probably increase their collector value.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Robert Schwartz- why the hate? Did a Boomer kill your family or something? Did your girl who dumped you own a Beetle? Who cares if “they” lost all their money? It isn’t true anyway.

    “It was, however, profitable because according to market research it helped GM sell about 70,000 BOF trucks a year. The SSR was nothing more than a halo vehicle to increase showroom traffic.”

    I would have gone to the GMC dealer purposely to avoid the SSR.
    Doesn’t matter much because dealers never put the cars you want to see in the showroom. 3/4 of the dealers don’t have showrooms big enough for more than 3 cars.

    The Integra and RSX were pretty cool cars but they disappeared because Honda did not want the F&F type buying Acuras.

    The production model Camaro looks much better than the concept. Especially the LS with steel wheels.

  • avatar

    which auto shows do the designers show up at? Aside from classic car shows, I’ve only been to the auto show in Boston, and I think it’s a bit off the beaten track–certainly never met up with any designers there.

    Detroit for sure. Chicago some, but actually I think there were more designers at the Toronto show the years I’ve gone than Chicago.

  • avatar
    ctoan

    There’s necessarily a balance between styling and practical concerns. The original designers of the “retro” source material struck that balance a certain way, given the current state of the art and whatever platform they were given to work with. When you ask a stylist to replicate that earlier car on a completely different platform that was designed to a different age’s different concerns, it won’t work.

    The Challenger and the Camaro both tried to replicate the original styling note-for-note on modern porky platforms, and ended up looking like they were in disguise. The designers wanted them to invite comparison to the originals, but anyone who wants that will always think the originals are better.

    The Mustang, on the other hand, was designed for the (porky) platform it’s on, but takes some of what made the original striking and reapplies it, and the result is much more coherent, and much more able to stand alone.

  • avatar

    Davey49

    your explanation for the disappearance of the Integra and RSX is fascinating, and, well, I can see the rationale, although I don’t agree with it. Forgive me, but what is the source on that? The first Fast & Furious came out in 2001 ,and I think that was the last year for the Integra, which seems a bit too quick for cause and effect. So there must have been some other reason for junking the Integra. But if you know more, please enlighten me.

    Junking the Integra because of F&F crowd would be like junking the ‘sclade because of the rappers.

    If they still made the Integra, I’d probably get one. I have no interest in the TSX, which feels porky compared to my ’99 Accord. One of my friends, a 61 year old female researcher at NIH, has a ’92 Integra which she’s had since ’94, and still loves. (Her other car is several Vanagons, one of which she uses especially for going to sheep dog trials with the dogs up to half way across the country, and the others which are back-up.)

  • avatar
    FloorIt

    My nostalgia cars –
    ’72 Buick Electra 225 = flipping the air cleaner cover 180 & forgetting to put it back to normal. I remembered to put the cover back to normal every time after mom took it to the dealer because it had a weird sound.
    ’88 Camaro = fun to drive & no problems even though consumer reports gave it all red dots.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Most of the retro cars remind me of the movies made from 1/2 hour sitcoms and cartoon shows. I was at Lime Rock a few yrs ago and saw a MINI parked beside a mini Cooper. The MINI is a foot larger in every dimension.

  • avatar
    davey49

    David Holzman- The F&F crowd existed long before the movie came out. People used to call them “ricers”. It was really just a guess but I’m pretty sure that Acura wanted a luxury car clientele in both the showrooms and the service areas. The Integra and RSX did not fit in this scheme. They also wanted the “tuners” to go to the Honda dealer and buy the Civic Si
    I consider the Integra and RSX the same car because they have the same marketing place so for me the “Integra” ended in 2006

    “Junking the Integra because of F&F crowd would be like junking the ’sclade because of the rappers.”

    Or maybe GM aren’t pseudo-snobs. The Escalade is sold in the same showroom as the Aveo so they don’t have much of a choice.

  • avatar

    Davey49,

    Thanks for the info!
    As a potential buyer of the Integra, I was not interested in the RSX because I like to be able to cart rear seat passengers in reasonable comfort (a former girlfriend tried the RSX and said “even your dog would have trouble getting in and out of the back seat”) and because I need enough room to take my office to the Cape in the summer. In both cases, I vastly prefer four doors to two. Also, although I like a firm ride, I don’t like it when the car bangs over washboard surfaces. Otherwise I’d get a used RSX.

  • avatar

    ‘88 Camaro = fun to drive & no problems even though consumer reports gave it all red dots.

    Red dots are “much better than average”. Black dots are the bad ones.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Acura wanted a luxury car clientele in both the showrooms and the service areas.

    That’s accurate. The RSX/ Integra crowd was the wrong demographic and price point.

    Honda is trying to reposition Acura as a competitive luxury brand. Unfortunately, they’ve been trying to do this by installing what must be the ugliest front grille in the business onto the front of cars that still otherwise look like Hondas. It reveals the limitations of their engineering-uber-alles mindset; they don’t understand how branding and product are supposed to work together.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce
    National Income and Product Accounts Table
    Table 2.1. Personal Income and Its Disposition

    Look at lines 33 (Personal saving) and 34 (Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income).

    The chart begins in 1967, the year the first boomers turned 21, during the next 18 years the savings rate (line 34) averages almost 10% of disposable income. After that the rate starts to slump. 1984 is the last year of 10%, 85 — 9%, by 92 it is 7.7% and in 99 — 2.4%. The current decade features some of the worst years ever 2005, 6 and 7 with rates under 1%.

    The pattern is completely consistent with my observation of Boomer character, or the lack thereof. In 1967, the oldest Boomers, those born in ’46, turned 21. By 1985 the youngest, those born in 1964, turned 21. In 1991, the oldest boomers turned 45.

    The years between 45 and 65 should be a person’s peak savings years. His wages should be at life-time peak. He should be paying off the house he bought to raise his children in, and the children should be leaving the nest.

    What we see in the chart is that those years for the boomers have coincided with a complete collapse of personal savings.

    I think I have proved my case.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I think I have proved my case.

    You’ve missed the fact that “investments” (401k and IRA deposits) aren’t counted as “savings” and therefore don’t show up in that number.

    If you compare personal outlays to total personal income, you can see that consumption spending has consistently comprised about 80-85% of gross income over the last six decades. But whereas employer contributions to pensions/ retirement was about 1.6% of income in 1947 and 4.3% in 1967, that now runs in the range of 8.5-9.0%.

    In effect, the average American now puts less money in the bank and more money into the stock market. Companies like this because all of that money provides a low cost source of capital, while financial services businesses get to make fees by investing (losing?) our money. The story is not quite what you think it is.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The RSX was probably the best example of “quality” I’ve seen in a compact car ever. I will admit I’ve never been in an Audi A3 or BMW 1 series so it might be surpassed by now.

    Robert Scwartz- I’m a GenXer and I haven’t helped that chart any. I’ve never saved any money.
    The years also coincide with EZ credit. Did credit card companies advertise on TV in the 60s and 70s? I would think peak savings years would be 16-30 these days. Before spouses and houses and children come into the picture.
    Personal observation is that the boomers I know are good at saving and its the younger folks who are bad at it.

  • avatar
    thebanana

    I want a bus just like the one in the photo!

  • avatar

    Davey49,

    Can’t find my 2009 CR annual auto issue, but the 2008 gives the RSX an overall A grade (a red dot) for 03-05, C (average, clear dot) for 06, and B for 02–which is not as good, cumulatively for those years, as the Civic or the Corolla. But you may have a different definition of quality from strictly frequency of repair, and in any case, the RSX certainly holds up well.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    Just some random thoughts.

    -The ultimate retro car is the 911. Porsche did it right. Create a car, improve it every year. Create an icon.

    -Corvette is another good example to follow. Build the car and slightly modify it for about 10 years. Then come out with the “new” car fixing all the design limitations in the previous design. Rinse and repeat.

    -There is nothing mini about the MINI. It vaguely resembles the original and the comparison ends there. I planned to order one of the first convertables. I was given the opportunity to view #001 at the duPont Registry before I made the order/mistake. I wasn’t impressed.

    -The Bug was great not for what it was, but for what you could do to it. No other car has ever had the “individuality” of the bug. There were so many kits and modifications available, a whole industry sprang up around this one model.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    @PCH101: Sorry: First, the savings line 33 is residual not a measure of bank deposits. What savings are invested in does not matter for this purpose.

    Second, Line 7 “Employer contributions for employee pension and insurance funds” is a component of Line 1 Personal Income, thus employer contributions to pension plans are included in the top line. IRA contributions are received by the employee first, and are therefore part of Line 2. Unrealized appreciation on assets is not part of line 1, but any investor or homeowner can tell you not to count that chicken until it is fricasseed and sitting on your table.

    It is true that line 7 has increased from 6% of line 2 in 1967 to 12% in 2008, but much of that increase is undoubtedly due to increasing health insurance premiums which are a current consumption item. If you graph line 7 verses line 1 personal income, you will see that they have diverged over the last 40 years.

    @Davey49: You are making my point. Advertising easy credit as a source of instant gratification would not work if the Boomer mentality were ant rather than the grasshopper that it is.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    What savings are invested in does not matter for this purpose.

    Investments are not categorized as savings.

    That’s the point that you are missing. Money paid to the consumer goes to (a) consumption, (b) taxes, (c) savings and (d) investment. That’s it.

    If you look at the (b) taxes, they’re fairly flat. So the extra money isn’t flowing there.

    Consumption (a) is also fairly flat. The amount of consumption is fairly consistent across the decades.

    The rest of the cash goes to (c) savings and (d) investing. What isn’t being saved, paid in taxes or consumed is being invested. It’s the net figure; you need to back into it.

  • avatar
    George B

    In my opinion the Ford Mustang does retro the best of recent cars. RWD, two doors, V8 option, and affordable. It would be better if it went on a diet, but that was also true at the start of the 70s.

    Potential future nostalgia cars are the various RWD Japanese cars from the late 80s through mid 90s. Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi Starion, Toyota MR2 and Supra, Nissan 300ZX, etc. Fun cars Gen X wanted, but couldn’t quite afford when new. Not sure how many survived body cancer, import drag racing, and drifting. Not RWD, but the Honda CRX also has import nostalgia potential.

    Another vehicle class with nostalgia potential are retro pickup trucks that are full sized and basic, not super-sized and fully loaded. Guys seem to be drawn to old pickup trucks. Maybe the proposed and shelved 2011 Ford F-100 could have tapped into some part of old pickup truck nostalgia.
    http://www.pickuptrucks.com/html/2011/ford/f100/rumors/is-ford-thinking-smaller-with-a-new-f-100-pickup-based-on-f-150.html

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