It takes generations to create a strong car brand – the young guys who start to notice the sound of a certain engine, the curve of shiny metal over the wheels, the mystery of the name – then the wave of people who inherit cars from their moms and dads, fix them up, spark them to life on a cold morning with the turn of a brass key – and then the next wave that comes along with the sound of that car's radio mixing in their minds with the slurp of milk shakes and the wail of a nauseous sibling.
It takes generations to create a strong car brand – and then but a brief banking panic and economic collapse to kill it off. "GM will probably simplify its line of brands." Sure. Makes sense. The bloated Detroit bureaucracy can't support the design, marketing and distribution of every arthritic car in the portfolio. Brand consultants have been telling GM execs this for years. "The data say you've got too many brands. Time to focus. Kill off a few."
But you know, car brands aren't like clothes brands or cereals. When a car brand gets killed off there is an empty lane in our neuro-pathways, a dead zone in our communal consciousness. Is it sheer sentiment?
With a nod to the cruel but salutary justice of the marketplace, I have no respect for the reactionary old unions and brain-dead auto leadership. Let them sink under the weight of self-imposed irrelevance. Yet... yet... there was magic and romance in the cars they made, the metal monsters that used to prowl our streets with names like Pontiac Star Chief and Chevy Nomad and Rocket 88.
Hate to see more of them go the way of the Olds. It took generations to build those brands – those dreams on wheels. But it's probably time to cut em loose. "Camry" has as much romantic appeal as a jar of pickles. But the damn thing is made in America, priced right and runs good.