QOTD: Is One Automaker Enough in Your Life?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd is one automaker enough in your life

Early on in the film Gran Torino, which I’ll admit is a guilty pleasure of mine, we see the curmudgeonly Walt Kowalski watch grimly as his no-good, ungrateful son drives his family away from his decaying Detroit home in a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser.

It’s 2008, and the financial crisis is threatening the very existence of the American auto industry. Meanwhile, we see in Walt’s driveway the evidence of a lifelong allegiance to the Ford Motor Company — a 1972 Ford F-100 bearing all the scars of three-plus decades of hard use, and his spotless, cherished ’72 Gran Torino.

“Would it kill you to buy American?” Walt mutters as the pristine Toyota drives off, wishing, no doubt, that he could turn his M1 Garand on the four-wheeled interloper.

Chances are you know someone just like Walt. Or close to it. Maybe it’s a friend, an in-law, your own father or mother, sister or brother, or maybe … it’s you.

These people live one-brand lives. For whatever the reason, be it patriotism, employment history, or the good luck of once owning a reliable model they never turned away from, these people view the purchase of a vehicle built by a rival automaker with the same guilt and shame as a devoted man cheating on his spouse.

Instead of Barbara from accounting at the No-Tell Motel on Route 61, it’s the alluring Ram Rebel offered at a cut-rate price at Bob Hinton’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Evergreen Avenue.

While I can’t claim to be a one-automaker man, I can attest to owning four GM sedans at one time or another. Loyalty? Uh, more like (rock-bottom) prices and ample front legroom. Sorry, Ford and Chrysler, but your seats don’t have nearly as much rearward travel. Growing up, it seemed every friend, and certainly every parent of every friend, settled for GM before any other car maker. How else could I have known, in high school, a friend with a Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Lumina Euro, and Chevrolet Lumina APV? Not to mention the guys with the Chevrolet Celebrity and Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport. (I’ll let the other divisions go unmentioned in the interest of brevity.)

At the time, of course, I could be found driving one of my parent’s two Chevrolet Corsicas, one of which I spent a grand on to call my own. GM sedans outnumbered shrubs at the time, so clearly there were more than a few General die-hards kicking around. Still, a good friend’s mother owned Toyotas and nothing else.

What say you, Best and Brightest? Is there one dealer you’ll always visit first come trade-in time? Have you sworn a silent oath to keep a certain HQ in Detroit, Japan, Germany, or South Korea in business until the day you shuffle off? If not, does this fit the description of someone you know?

Let us know in the comments.

[Image: Warner Bros. Pictures]

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  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jan 25, 2018

    1. 1978 Olds Cutlass Salon: inherited from an aunt. Used-up before I obtained it. 2. 1984 Pontiac Sunbird hatch: purchased from my Dad’s cousin after his Mom stopped driving. Failed head gasket on a college commuter budget (along with my Dad’s travails with a 1986 Century) drove me into the Honda camp. 3. 1994 Honda Civic EX. 4. 2000 Honda Accord V6: had the common failure of the transmission, which Honda covered. 5. 2006 Honda Accord V6. 6. 2013 Honda Accord Touring. Going to stick with Honda, despite their dropping the V6 from the Accord; any other manufacturer’s midsize offering is a compromise.

  • Road_pizza Road_pizza on Feb 01, 2018

    There's been several exceptions over the years but the vast majority of vehicles I've owned since I got my license back in '79 have been Ford products. No Ford has ever left me stranded and all of them have treated me well so I see no reason to change loyalties.

  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down. https://academic.oup.com/dh/article-abstract/42/4/548/5063004