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Better Cars, Not Slogans, Get Buyers

Updated on December 7, 2017
William F. Torpey profile image

Graduated NYU in 1964. Worked in NYC for 2 years in public relations then as reporter and editor before retiring from The Hour newspaper.

Typical Heavy Traffic Everywhere

Buy the Best

Since 1957 when I purchased my first car -- a used 1950 Dodge -- I guess I've owned at least a dozen different vehicles, including a couple of Fords, a Chevy, a Chrysler Imperial (tagged the "Gray Ghost" by friends.) I've also held title to a Mercury, Datsun, Buick and a Dodge Omni. (Obviously brand loyalty is not my thing.)

While I'm not a noted shopper and I tend to grab the first thing that approximates my need I do give some thought to my purchases. In buying a car, my thoughts turn to: 1) cost; 2) Does it run? 3) Does it have a good radio and tape recorder? and 4) Can I take it home now?

One thing I give little or no thought to is: Was this auto conceived, designed, built, promoted and sold by American labor? By Japanese labor? By German labor? By Italian labor? By Samoan labor?

Blame the Japanese?

Over the past several years as America's debt soared and its balance of trade became what economists refer to as "unfavorable" there has been an increasing tendency -- in no small way aggravated by former Chrysler Corporation Chairman Lee Iacocca -- to blame the Japanese and others for America's problem.

This jingoism has come to be known as the "Buy America" campaign. In other words look not at the quality of workmanship, the price tag, appearance, warranty or maintenance costs look rather for the "Made in America" sticker.

By jingo! That not only defies the intelligence of the American people, but does a disservice to American labor.

Americans Snookered

Many Americans have been snookered into believing that it is patriotic to buy a Chrysler, Ford or Chevy instead of one of those mean old foreign cars sold by those unfair, greedy capitalists overseas.

Don't pick the car you like best, the car that's more efficient and better looking, the car you feel will serve you better!

No, for the good of Chrysler, General Motors or Ford, buy the car that doesn't look as good, doesn't perform as well, isn't engineered as well, costs more!

Don't feel badly if your car isn't so great; remember, you're patriotic!

The truth is that when we Americans buy an inferior product we encourage inefficiency, we encourage poor engineering, we encourage poor design.

Why should the auto makers break their backs finding better products at lower prices when "patriotic" Americans will buy any piece of junk they produce -- and pay more for it to boot!

A Charitable Gesture?

Do the unions fare any better? Do they end up with better pay, better job security or more pride in their productivity by taking money from Americans who buy their product not because it's the best but rather as a charitable gesture? Not likely.

America must shun the jingoism of those who would sell them cheap, those who would appeal to their lesser instincts, those who would have us blame others for our own deficiencies.

We best serve our country, and ourselves, by making the best, buying the best, being the best.

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaperof Norwalk, Conn., on Jan. 16, 1993. Just look what's happened in the automobile industry since that time. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.

'We Need to Buy American'

If You Buy a Car, Will "Buy America" Be a Major Factor in Your Decision?

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    • Bentley Fan profile image

      Bentley Fan 

      9 years ago

      Some great information, thanks!

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I think it's all about ego, countrywomen. They may not feel younger, but they like to appear young, wealthy and successful. If you watch the automobile advertising on television you can see clearly what the advertisers are driving at with their pretty women and fast cars -- or is it fast women and pretty cars? I'm anxious to read Pgrundy's hub, which I'll do as soon as I return from our Christmas party at the VFW.

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 

      9 years ago from Washington, USA

      William- I have surprisingly seen people who maybe in their 50's buy those sports/convertible cars and couldn't understand why? Is it because once the kids are grown up they don't need big cars or they feel younger buying these cars. Btw Pgrundy's hub about Auto answers the question why the American Auto industry isn't as competitive as the Japanese one.

      http://hubpages.com/hub/I-Married-an-Auto-Worker-T...

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks for commenting, countrywomen. The auto industry -- and especially Lee Iococca -- pushed the "Buy America" campaign more than a decade ago, but it wasn't very successful. With the price of autos skyrocketing over the years, most people apparently wanted their money's worth, you're right. The automakers like to blame unfair foreign competition for their woes while others blame the high cost of labor. With today's financial crisis, Americans have little choice but to watch the bottom line and buy the best car for the buck -- or stick with their old jalopies.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      No question about it, Robie2, the "American car" of past decades is long gone. The "Big Three" have badly mismanaged their corporations, and look what has resulted. Nevertheless, the U.S. must not lose our manufacturing abilities for national security reasons -- not to mention millions of jobs. I appreciate your comment.

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 

      9 years ago from Washington, USA

      Sir- I don't think I have met anybody so far who believes in this "The truth is that when we Americans buy an inferior product we encourage inefficiency, we encourage poor engineering, we encourage poor design."(Maybe nowadays patriotism doesn't sell so much)

      Ultimately it is the customer who is paying and if he/she doesn't get the perceived benefits then he/she isn't going to opt for it. I have seen most of us in our company buy a Honda/Toyota and little senior folks buy Lexus or German Cars. I have surprisingly seen people who maybe in their 50's buy those sports/convertible cars and couldn't understand why?

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      9 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Funny thing-- there's no such thing as an "American" car these days. The parts are from all over the world. Fords are made in Spain and Toyotas are made in the USA. Just what is an "American" car anyway? That said, I haven't owned a car from the big 4 Detroit automakers in 20 years.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      You are too, too kind, compu-smart. I only wish I had your computer savvy -- or the kind of persistence and talent you show in putting together your Celebrity Birthday hubs. Thanks.

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      9 years ago from London UK

      William, your comment, just like all your personal opinions sounds smart! I just hope America is listening!

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 

      9 years ago

      good info

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Nobody likes bailing out businesses whose greed and incompetency brought about near bankruptcy, compu-smart, but it seems opponents of the proposed bailout (or loan, if you will) are really aiming more at union busting. The auto workers earned their retirement benefits. They should not be taken away now. We should change the slogan from "Buy America" to "Buy the best," which should amount to the same thing!

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      9 years ago from London UK

      Hi William,

      The auto industry is a hot topic now because of the economic crisis and the industry's request for a bailout (or loan.)

      I totally agree that people should spend more time buying a car for its economic performance, than what it looks like!!

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