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Abandoning Automotive Patriotism

July 9, 2011

R.I.P. Saturn (Fuck GM) by Shellie Lewis, acrylics on canvas, 24” x 30”

I was taught all through childhood to buy American cars, because our people need the jobs.  Saturn was the only car company I felt I could get behind, and GM bought them out and killed them off; they were too much competition.

Saturn had electric test cars cruising around New Mexico and Arizona in the mid-to-late nineties.  I figured they would pursue this technology when I bought a Saturn, maybe I would own an electric car myself one day if I traded in for a newer model, and help keep my buddies in Spring Hill, Tennessee in jobs.  This was when the Honda Insight had just been released.  No such luck; dear Saturn is gone.

GM built huge, expensive gas guzzling SUVs that no one can now afford – or afford to fill the tank of- then they got government bail out money for stupid business practices.  Really, there is no “free market system” in America if a failing company has too much influence.  Saturn focused more on sensible cars that looked good and ran good.  I still see a lot of SL and SL-1 series on the road.  I badly miss my SC2 three door.  It was a great car.

Buying American cars hasn’t worked out too well for me.  A family Ford Escort burst into flames when I was a teen and my dad was driving; it was wired incorrectly and a recall came later.  A family Ford Econoline had the engine seize permanently and had to be totaled; six of the eight cylinders in the engine had been installed upside down at the factory.  A later Ford Focus was the break down and recall king of the road.  People around me nicknamed the car the “Ford Fuck-Us” because instead of being a reliable economy car, it turned out to be a lemon.

Even better, I eventually discovered Henry Ford’s support of the Third Reich and how his darling son Edsel Ford ran the concentration camp factory Fordwerke AG.  It is illegal to this day for the remaining survivors of Fordwerke AG to sue the German government for compensation for their forced labor.  Many forced laborers were captured women from Russia and people from other eastern nations.  Ford may have recently passed on bailout money in the current bad economy but a company whose prosperity and prominence was -at least partially- based in slave labor during and selling vehicles to both sides of WWII doesn’t sit well with me.  American Infantry and the Wehrmacht both had the same troop transport trucks; a fact that didn’t sit well with our soldiers who saw this.  Ford also spouted and published his share of anti-Semitic hate rhetoric.  Companies and sometimes otherwise educated people like to quote Henry Ford as a brilliant all-American businessman.  I spent my time responding to these quotes in person, through company emails and newsletters by pointing out Henry Ford was a Nazi.   Between the cars running like shit and the history of the company, wanting a Ford is awful hard.  So really, fuck Ford, too.

An old Pontiac of mine ran on prayer and my Honda Accord, built in Ohio, threw the transmission a few weeks after I paid it off.   I had to total the Honda, the repairs were greater than the value of the car.  By now, I have abandoned the patriotic vehicular value system.

I have a ten year old beat up Chevy Tracker, and Chevrolets are GM cars, but I bought it used from a guy damn well knowing that it has the Suzuki Samurai engine… really, one of the best engines ever built.  My car is a Suzuki in a Chevy wrapper and has run like a champ even with a ridiculous number of miles on the odometer.  Thank you, Japan.

Long live the Riceburner car!

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