Beautiful on the outside..sick on the inside…
In 1975, when I was 21, I bought a Triumph TR6.
British racing green. Brown leather seats. A straight-6 with dual stromberg carbs.
What a car.
What a piece of junk.
You could not drive that thing more than 20 miles without something falling off. The Lucas electrical system was a mess. Every time it rained, the electricals simply shutdown. Once, while cruising up the Taconic State Parkway on my way back to school, there was a loud bang and a billowing cloud of black smoke enveloped the car. I had blown the head gasket at 90mph. Great.
Sitting in England, I am reminded that this country once had one of the greatest auto industries in the world. Rolls Royce, Land Rover, Triumph, MG, Jaguar, Bentley. The best of the best all came from this small island. And now…. Last month it was announced that Tata, the Indian car company, was going to buy Jaguar and Land Rover.
There is something to be said for brand, but there is also something to be said for keeping up with technology. This week we have rented an Audi A8. What a car! I have not owned a car for the past 10 years. My last one was a 911. But I have found it is much easier simply to rent one when I need one. (The benefit of living in Manhattan). So I get exposed to a wide range of automobiles, both US and European. The German cars beat the crap out of the American ones, hands down, every time. Why is that? They simply seem a decade or more ahead of the US models (and let’s not even talk about design).
And now the US automakers are saying they are going to go bankrupt. They are at the end of their tether. Just like a lot of newspapers.
All of which leads me to conclude that just because you have a successful brand today, it does not mean you are going to have one tomorrow. Not without a lot of work and innovation.
I am more than happy to buy (or rent) a German car. I will be less happy when the only paper I can get is Die Zeit.