Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cars - Part 1

Good-bye Pontiac.
Thinking about Mike Cooper’s old Chevy got me to thinking more about our first cars. Most of us drove one of our parents’ cars after we got licenses, but a few of us were working and could buy one for ourselves. Our parents’ generally weren’t the kind of people to spoil their children, so not many of us were the fortunate recipients of a car that we didn’t purchase ourselves.

Paul Tate had a (’55, I think) Pontiac that he bought from the proceeds of his paper route; Bill Winkler had that interesting Ford hardtop convertible; Gay Burton got a Corvair, and Jim McVean got a neat little Pontiac Tempest with a strong motor.

I remember seeing my first 1964 GTO while in college…and what an impression it made. Sleek, metallic paint, a throaty exhaust rumble, and it was fast. The GTO was the stuff of a young man’s dreams, but I never got one before GM screwed up the lines in 1968 by making it a fastback with a big rear end. The next Pontiac that caught my attention was that outrageous Trans-Am in the Smoky & the Bandit film. I had outgrown those kinds of cars by then, but the fun of it was apparent.

When I saw the first Pontiac Aztec about 2002, I had a few critical thoughts. One, it was the ugliest thing I had seen on 4-wheels posing as a car. Two, I wondered what kind of taste a purchaser might have to consider it an object of desire. And three, I was dumbstruck not only that a designer would design something that ugly, but more incredibly, that a corporate VP who should have shut it down, actually approved building it—or, more likely it was a new-wave committee decision of the kind reached daily in today’s modern business culture!

Oh well, good-bye to a fine old trade name, which apparently died of utter stupidity. I think the comparison picture is a useful metaphor for a lot of things that once worked well, but are struggling today. Seems that we knew how to do things 45-years ago that we can't get done today.


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