Hello, Detroit! Is Anybody Home?

Pleas take a look at these two car body styles. The first is the popular 2010 Honda Accord, all decked out in the coveted colorless blend-in silver tone shading that, along with the often chosen gray-colored version, is the quiet rage among folks who are looking for the most aerodynamically efficient and anonymous-looking carrier forms they can climb into for their five-day weekly trip into the land of 9 to 5.

2010 Honda Accord

Now take a long look at our second body style offering, an American-made, all-steel and chrome  1936 Studebaker Roadster, resplendent in pay-attention-to-me red and just aching for a moving violation ticket on the joy-breeze drive you make on your own terms to a job or career you really want to do, on those days you truly feel like doing anything at all. This car is also available in Emerald City Green or Sunrise Orange, but we will go with Looka-Here Red today as your other choice.

1936 Studebaker Roadster

All things being equal on the inside, let’s next assume that either of these body models is available to you with all of the modern engineering we now possess in 2010 for computerized power, cooling, steering, fueling, transmission,  suspension, braking, wheels, and tires.

Which body type would you choose for your personal car? Remember: One of them is basically made of plastic, making it lighter on fuel, but more fragile on impact, and the other is made of steel and chrome, American-made steel and chrome.

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m pulling your leg a little bit. I do realize that some people, perhaps, more than I think, are more concerned with aerodynamic performance over looks, and many others today associate the face of classic cars with out-of-fashion looks and the outdated technology that once drove them.

Yet, I still think that Detroit is missing a bet by not reviving the classic look as the wrapper on modern technology for all those car buyers who do prefer the differential character face of classic cars over the one-look-fits-all design that goes into most cars today, American or foreign.

Wouldn’t some of you today like to go out and buy a car that ran like a new one, but looked like a 1950 Ford, a 1951 Oldsmobile, or a 1957 Chevrolet?  We could have it, but we don’t because of fears among the automakers that we will see it as “old-fashioned” or less efficient on the fuel usage side.

Neither of those factors would hold me back, but then, maybe I’m all alone in that view – or maybe, I’m just too old to realize that style and class no longer matter for much of anything, even in cars.

Chrysler tried to wake up to this idea, but then stumbled over their own lack of fortitude for going all the way. Their PT Cruiser sort of started out as a classic echo design, but then they got caught up in making sure it retained the anonymous oval shape. When they ran totally out of imagination, Chrysler designers simply chopped it off in the back and made it too small to be noticed for long by the buying public.

C’mon, Detroit, wake up! You have the chance now to rock ‘n roll your new car sales way, way past the Asian companies who didn’t grow up here, but you have to first wake up the American echoes to see the technicolor sunrise of a brand new day in classic car design.

Rise and shine, Detroit! It’s back to the future time!

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2 Responses to “Hello, Detroit! Is Anybody Home?”

  1. Hazel Loving Camara Says:

    I was in the Detroit area 3 weeks ago. A teacher friend of long standing is from Grosse Pointe, and it is unreal what has happened to the Detroit and the surrounding areas. In the past 3 years 102 public schools have closed in Detroit alone; the automobile manufacturing areas look like ghost towns; and the neighborhoods around the factories have the appearance of a war zone. Detroit is a welfare city and this is the reason for the closure of the schools. Since so many are on welfare then NO school taxes are paid; therefore, the schools can not operate or pay teachers. In fact, teachers took a $10,000 cut in salary last year in order to help save the schools. This did not help.

    In Grosse Pointe; which is compared to Houston’s River Oaks; and this is where my friend and her family live; there are 1,800 houses for sale and of course the houses are not selling and people are having to walk away from their lovely homes as they leave for other states to find jobs. These families once lives privileged lives because of jobs they felt were secure with the auto industry…..today, nothing is secure. My friend came back to Houston to teach since her school was one of the 102 that closed.

    The old timers in the Detroit/Grosse Pointe area feel that American has shot itself in the foot and the foot will never heal because America is no longer a manufacturing county but one that services other countries products. All we have to do is ask ourself; WHEN IS THE LAST TIME I PURCHASED AN ITEM OR A PRODUCT THAT WAS BUILT, MADE OER GROWN IN THE U.S.? AND, I AM GUILTY AS WELL. But, where are these products to be purchased? Even fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood come from other countries…….where are our fruits, vegetables and seafood. Oh well, enoug…..I will get off of my SOAP BOX.

    BOTTOM LINE; THOSE WITH WHOM I SPOKE TO IN MICHIGAN FEEL IT IS TOO LATE TO SAVE DETROIT……I HOPE THIS IS NOT TRUE.

  2. mike Says:

    Bill,
    I think that Ford and GM have done a nice job with the retro styling of the Mustang and Camaro respectively. And they are both great sellers. There is a market for retro styling. Room for all in a country of 300 million.

    As for Detroit, the loss of manufacturing and population is nothing new. It hit its peak just after WWII when many people had gone there to work in defense plants. The highest census total the city ever registered was in 1950 when Detroit had 1.8 million people. It has declined steadily since then and is now less than a million. The auto industry jobs began to contract in the 1950s when companies like the one that made that pretty Studebaker went away.

    For the record, Grosse Pointe, btw, is a separate city like Bellaire or West U and does not pay taxes to Detroit.

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