Much info on this topic, and Unions actually faught it...
May 25 2012, 1:29 PM
Much of the great change that took place in th early 1980s was due to the Japanese vehicle invasion and standards of the mid 1970s. The Japanese designed vehicles pushed engineering and design cocepts well above and beyond what the U.S. could have ever thought about at the time. With that came fuel economy. Japanese vehicles, even to this day, are in a world of their own in regards to quality, engineering, fuel economy, mechanical part fit and clerance (much more precise), etc. The biggest thing that changed the American car maker? The notion of ditching body on lader frame design and transverse engine mounting which, by many today, was the worst decision ever. The upside? Serious weight reduction. With weight reduction in areas where better engineering could accomplish the same feat of rigidity and life, weight could be distributed other usable places.
While the U.S. was adopting such new standards, the auto unions here faught it tooth and nail becuase production would be more difficult. Not adopting to the standards would have ruined the U.S. automaker years ago. Even today, many are hard pressed to find a qulity American [designed] car capable of driving above and beyond 200K without the need of major repair inbetween.
"The majority of things in our lives are created by folks no smarter than the rest. Afterall, the world is comprised, and operated by C average people intellctually, academically, and morally. These people are often the great pioneers that set the precedent for what excellence should be."
This message has been edited by Duane30 on May 25, 2012 1:31 PM
If we're talking quality, some of those cherries in that poster were rotten
May 25 2012, 12:53 AM
'58 and '59 were big time dog years for Detroit, GM included. Mucho blue exhaust after they got a few years old. Those Impalas are collector's items today but I can tell you they weren't the pick of the litter when I was in high school. Had a friend with a 1960 Impala 348 "boat anchor" engine. Kind of cool but she burned enough oil to keep the Iranians happy for life.
First car out of Navy - used '68 Javelin. Almost bought a '65 Mustang convertible but my uncle talked me out of it 'cause it was a six cylinder. Six months later the Arab oil embargo comes and they lower the speed limit to 55. That six would have come in handy.
Those and DeSoto's were some neat cars. A buddy in high school had a 1957 Plymouth convertible (did they make the Fury back then?) with primitive fuel injection. It was a beast but it got them where they wanted to go.
The other thing about Fifties cars (and well into the Sixties) was how fast the paint would fade, soon to be replaced by rust blisters. Especially those with the little vent doors in the front quarter panels to keep your tootsies cool. I do miss the vent windows that you could angle open. Today's cars can be real oddballs for driving with the windows open. Can't rest you arm on half the door frames. If the windows aren't opened just so you get a low range thumping noise that will drive everyone nuts. Had one car that the driver's seat belt would vibrate against you so much that you simply couldn't drive over forty with the window open. Then again, you can abuse the heck out of them and they will start up most every time.
I've got my Dad's old Chilton's Auto Body repair, 1950-1956/7 and it's fun to peruse from time to time. So many different body styles. I think the Fifties were the height of American automotive design. Certainly a far cry better than European models of the same era.
...it had a clutch pedal, but you only had to use it when shifting into reverse.
At other times, you just stepped on the gas from a stop and away you'd go! It had a dual-range fluid drive: Low and High. If you weren't in a hurry to accelerate, you just left it in High range all the time, never using the clutch.
My first car, a 1934 Plymouth, had "Free-Wheeling", which never used the engine's compression to slow it down when set at a cruising speed. The engine would just idle while you were coasting along at cruising speed.
I didn't like Free Wheeling, so I locked it out and felt more like I was in control.
I paid $35 for that automobile, when I was 15 years old.
Howl (Here's a picture of one just like it, but mine had a matching spare tire cover!)
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