The automotive manufactures have always been a close knit organization. Joining the family is much like joining that other “family” that is alleged to run the world from a farm in Sicily. Many manufacturers have tried throughout history to join the club and few have succeeded. Many that have endured are now owned and operated by other companies making brand engineering the buzz word of the twenty first century. Maybe that is why all the cars in the world look alike these days.
It is interesting to figure out who owns who in the automotive world today.
Back in the control of the Piech family Volkswagen Group is emerging as the world’s most prolific auto maker. Ferdinand Piech, now in charge of the company, has expanded the company’s holdings to include many brands from all around the globe. Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti and a large part of Suzuki are all owned by the same company. Cross engineering is a common thread throughout the company with each company sharing technology and components with others. Perhaps that is why the Volkswagen Tiguan looks like an Audi Q5 and the new upcoming Porsche Cajun.
The Italian car maker rivals Volkswagen for the number of auto makers under its control. The Italian controlled company now has a controlling interest in American car maker Chrysler that includes Dodge. In addition Fiat owns a majority interest in Lancia, Ferrari, Alpha Romeo, Maserati and American icon Jeep. Auto tuner and parts provider Abarth is also operated by Fiat and acts as a tuning house for several of the high end products that the Fiat family produces.
The French automaker Renault disappeared from the American shores during the later part of the twentieth century. It retreated across the pond when the gas crisis and rising import prices crippled its ales in the United States. However Renault maintains a presence in the United States today as the owner of Nissan and Infiniti. Renault also had an operating interest in American Motors before the company was sold to Chrysler in the 1990s. Carlos Ghosn, the chief operating officer of Nissan/Renault provides a strong leadership role, especially in the drive to produce green energy efficient cars for the world wide market .
It is not an illusion that cars all look alike, most are built by a hand full of manufacturers. Although this reduces costs to the manufacturer it also limits the choices available to auto enthusiasts.
When our grandfathers bought their first vehicles, they paid what in their minds was a ton of money. A brand new vehicle could be bought for a few hundred dollars, which would equate to a couple of thousand dollars in today’s economy. Try going to a new car dealership and asking to pay only $3000 for a brand spanking new car and see how fast they laugh you right out of the building.
We have been conditioned to see a price tag of over $30,000 for a new vehicle and not think much about it. Just thirty years ago, $30,000 would buy a decent three bedroom house in a good neighborhood! Today, it’ll buy you a middle shelf “luxury” car with only a few bells and whistles if you are lucky. You will probably be disappointed when the integrated GPS directs you to the wrong restaurant, too. I simply can’t see spending a little less than what a regular blue collar American typically makes in an entire year for a vehicle, no matter how nice the leather seats are.
Vehicles were designed to get the driver from Point A to Point B without having to walk or ride a horse. As the decades progressed, auto makers began getting a little more sassy with their designs by adding climate control and heated seats. Today’s new vehicles can do everything but sweep the kitchen floor! Now I don’t mind a nice air conditioner in the summer heat, but in this author’s opinion, we have added too many features that don’t do much more than drive up the prices of vehicles and raise our need to keep up with the Jones’.
The average ordinary American simply does not need all the complicated bells and whistles that come with today’s vehicles. Sure, the added features are nice, but be honest and think about how often you use those features. Some top shelf cars have so many features that it almost distracts the driver from his or her chief function, which is to safely driving the vehicle. Fiddling around with the ten disc CD changer is much more appealing than watching the driver in front of you and then you wonder why you find yourself in an “accident” at the next red light. Keep your hands at ten and two and your eyes and mind on the road!
As the American auto industry grew through the post war era manufacturers searched for ways to win the hearts of drivers. Something was needed to ignite the passions of the American motoring public. New techniques, new body styles and new concepts were being developed to win over automotive purchasers. As England developed its two seat open roadsters American companies investigated the possibility of a roadster with American power and prestige. The results were some pretty interesting automobiles.
The Nash Healey
Between 1951 and 1955 the Nash Kelvinator Company, manufacturer of Ramblers and refrigerators, collaborated with British sports car designer Don Nash to produce America’s first post war roadster. The components were strictly Nash Ambassador while the original body was purely Nash’s creation. The body underwent a redesign with help from the Italian design firm Pinin Farina in 1952. The car retained the classic convertible lines with a restyled grill and lights. When Nash was merged with Hudson in 1954 to from American Motors Corporation the Nash Healey was phased out.
The Kaiser Darrin
Contrary to popular opinion the Corvette was not the first fiberglass bodied two seat sports car in the United States. Kaiser beat Chevrolet to market with the Darrin. This small two seat car was produced with a fiberglass body and some features that made it very unique. The front grill of the Kaiser Darrin, designed by Dutch Darrin, appeared to be modeled after puckered lips. The roof was a three position canvas top that could be fully opened, half opened and decorated with iron landau bars or fully closed. The engine was a six cylinder used in the Kaiser cars of 1952 with a triple carburetor manifold that produced 125 horsepower. The strangest feature was the patented sliding doors that disappeared into the front fenders when opened.
The Darrin beat the Corvette to market by nearly a year but the company was plagued by financial difficulties and closed in 1955. Dutch Darrin finished off the last remaining cars with Cadillac engines and sold them himself.
Polo White and Power-Glide for 1953, the Corvette was introduced as Chevrolet’s response to the British sports roadsters. The original car was offered only in white with a two speed automatic transmission and a six cylinder engine code named the Blue Flame. The original cars were all handmade. In 1954 the newer models featured color choices but still the power-glide and blue flame combination. By 1955 the Corvette had grown into a respectable sports car, just in time to take on the challenge of the new Ford Thunderbird.
After nearly sixty years the Corvette, now a world class sports GT, is the only American roadster from the 1950’s still standing.
Cars play a very important role in people lives every single day. A person uses a car everyday to travel. There are a lot people who have to go to work. A person needs a car to get to work. A person relies on their car to get them to work. If a person does not have a car then it is very difficult to work. Most people who do not own a car does not work because they don’t have a car. When a person fills out a job application it asks is the person has a car to get to work.
People use cars to go grocery shopping. There are a lot of people who do large food shopping. A person needs a car to put the food in so they can transport the groceries back to their home. If a person doesn’t have a car then they can not do a large grocery shopping. Even a little grocery shopping can be a hassle if a person doesn’t have a car because they will have to walk back home with bags of food. The bags will get heavy after a few minutes of walking. The mixture of heavy bags and walking can cause pain in the feet and the back.
People who go on vacations usually drive to their vacation homes. People drive to the beach. If a person doesn’t have a car then they will not be going to the beach or on their vacation. When a person is on vacation they will want to go out to dinner, lunch, and breakfast. If the person does not have a car then they will not being going out to eat at all. A person must have a car if they are going on vacation. If a person is flying to their vacation spot they will still need a car to get back and forth from the hotels and to do other things. No matter where a person goes they will need a car to travel to the places they have to go. A person can rent a car if they traveled by plane.
Thousands of people buy a used car each year because it’s a great way to save some money and get a “new” vehicle. Of course, buying a used car shouldn’t be an impulse buy, so a person has to know what they’re doing. Used cars can be just as nice and great as a brand new car – nobody should rule out getting a used car. What should everyone consider when buying a used car?
First of all, a person should think about price when getting a used car. Used cars are obviously cheaper than brand new ones, but a person has to know how much they can spend. Most people can’t afford luxury cars – new or used. Still, it’s possible to buy a pretty good used car for only a few thousand dollars. Nobody should have trouble buying a car for somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000. A person has to know what their budget constraints are.
Insurance costs are something you should always think about. It will vary from vehicle to vehicle. If you want to keep insurance costs low then stay away from buying cars that are expensive to repair or known by insurance companies to be in more accidents than most. Shop around and compare car insurance rate quotes online to find out what’s best for you.
All used cars that a person is considering should be sturdy vehicles. Therefore, these cars should be inspected by a mechanic before any sales are made to ensure that the vehicle doesn’t have any major issues. Any such issues that are found can lead to a reduction in the price of the used vehicle, which can work in the favor of the buyer. So then, all used cars must be inspected before they are purchased.
Gas mileage is becoming more and more important with rising gas costs and whatnot. Without a doubt, gas mileage has to be taken into consideration with a used vehicle. Many cars are now being manufactured with great fuel economy, but a potential buyer always has to be aware of these figures. Of course, a person can’t expect an SUV to get 30 miles per gallon.
Among other things, a person should also take into consideration the features of the used vehicle. Some cars come with many more features than others, and this cannot be forgotten. All potential buyers should find a used vehicles with good features for a fair price. On that note, a more expensive vehicle might be worth it if valuable features are there.
As one can see, buying a used vehicle is no easy task. There are so many other things that a person must think about when buying a used car. This isn’t a light decision and requires plenty of thought before a purchase is made.
Drivers around the world today look for great gas mileage in a small package for urban driving. The Smart automobile, manufactured by a division of Mercedes Benz is a popular small automobile. The Nano by Tata has been touted as the next Volkswagen Beetle or Ford Model T. Many car manufacturers are seeking smaller and more efficient cars for the city driver. Even The designer of the mighty McLaren M-1 has designed a car made out of a new material that rival carbon fiber for toughness and integrity but are actually made from recycled newspapers and glass fibers mixed with a secret resin product. The t.25 City car designed by Gordon Murray has created a stir in the automotive world but actual production may be a few years away. The proliferation of small city cars is not new though. In the years after the Second World War many companies produced micro cars that were sold worldwide. These cars were small in size and provide urban transport for thousands of commuters each day. As the market cycles back to the smaller cars it is interesting to look back at the last microcars that were manufactured.
A tiny three wheeled automobile that was produced in Germany after the war. When the company was not allowed to build planes after World War 2 plans for a small commuter car were produced and the car was built. The three wheel set up with two front wheels and one rear wheel created a stable ride. The car had an enclosed cockpit and provided a driver’s seat and rear seating for two passengers. A roadster model was created in eh late 1950s. As airplane production ramped back up the small car became a burden to the company and was eventually discontinued.
Another three wheeled vehicle with two front wheels and a single rear wheel the Isetta was initially designed by ISO, an Italian company. ISO licensed production of the Isetta to many other companies and BMW; the Bavarian Sports Car manufacturer produced many models of the Isetta for several years. The car was known for its front opening cockpit where the entire front section was hinged and opened for access to the cabin. BMW attempted to upgrade the Isetta and build larger models but production ended by 1958. The car was licensed to be built in countries all around the world.
Fiat, Nash, Gogomobile and NSU all produced microcars for several years also. Cars such s the Trabant soldiered on until the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in the early 1990s. History is now repeating itself with the Ka Japanese cars and city cars from all major manufacturers.
The American dream has always included owning the biggest, fastest and most glitzy car available; that is until the gas crisis of the late 1970s hit the nation hard. With gasoline rising over $1.00 a gallon for the first time and rationing in place the American manufacturers scrambled to produce more economical cars. Many of the cars that were produced would be laughable; except that they proved to be inherently dangerous or so shoddily designed and built that they fell apart within a few months. American manufacturers are still struggling to build a competitive small and economical car. A look at some of the past failures, as time has passed by, is almost comical today.
From 1970 through 1977 Chevrolet produced the Vega. The import fighter from Chevrolet was truly a remarkable design with innovative features. Available as a hatchback, coupe and wagon the Vega featured an all aluminum engine block design. The small four cylinder was able to produce good horsepower and return great fuel economy. Problems with the engine block warping from high temperatures doomed the Vega and poor craftsmanship and metal on the bodies resulted in a rusty heap in no time.
The Chevette was Chevy’s second attempt at a compact import fighter. Introduced in 1976 the Chevette was a hatchback wagon concept that was designed to replace the failed Vega. The Chevette continued the rear wheel drive platform of previous American offerings and was powered by a four cylinder engine. The Chevette continued to be manufactured through 1986 although it never reached the sales numbers it did in 1979 when it was the bestselling car in the United States. Build problems, rust through issues and other shoddy materials doomed the Chevette. The diesel that was introduced in 1981 added to the bad reputation the Chevette earned during its lifetime.
The Ford Pinto was the answer to import sales and the Vega and Chevette from General Motors. The Pinto was built for nine years between 1971 and 1980. As was typical of many cars of this era the body suffered severe rust through issues that created customer dissatisfaction. The largest issue with the Pinto though was the exploding gas tanks. Due to bad placement and poor structural protection Pintos were prone to exploding when struck from the rear in an accident. Lee Iacocca, Ford’s General Manager at the time, rushed the vehicle into production despite warnings that the gas tank was unsafe. When Ford was forced to recall the cars in 1978 it was the end of the Pinto and closely related Mercury Bobcat models.
The American car industry still has problems producing economical cars today and finds most of its compacts imported from manufacturing subsidiaries in Europe.