Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bring back the Roadater

I'm so glad we saved GM.

Families pass down car loyalties like holiday tradtions.

Mine was a GM family.

Chevrolets only for my dad's dad. Big Papa to me.

Chevy pickups, Impalas, you name it. He trusted in the bowtie.

Big Papa had a saying about Fords.

"Hope you're thru having kids. Riding in a Ford will shake all the nuts off."

My dad carried on the tradition.

Chevys. Buicks. Oldsmobiles.

Things went way wrong in the 60's.

Pops bought a Rambler. An American Motors Rambler.

Not sure why. We all slip.

All I know is a car with a push button transmission on the dash isn't really a car.

And when he called my mom to come pick him up cause he had left his office one afternoon and one of the front wheels had just come off, we all knew it was a dark day.

I rode with my mom just past Tri-City Plaza and there was my dad's white Rambler teeter-tottering on three wheels in the middle of the street.

We never saw it again.

Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles from then on. Good solid choices.

Which brings me to this weekend.

Renting a car in Los Angeles.

It is called a Chevrolet Cobalt.

If you want basic transportation, this is it.

It was designed by those ding-dongs in Detroit to compete with a Honda Civic.

It was better designed to compete with an oxcart.

First of all, it is a color of green that humans shouldn't see.

The only way I can describe it is imagine what a baby blue whale's first poop might look like. It ain't pretty.

The car is less than a year old. The front end rattles like a cement mixer every time you turn it or hit a bump.

When you turn the blinker on, you soon learn you have to turn it off yourself. (Forgive me Lord for cussing idiots with their blinker on driving down the highway. I now realize they were driving Cobalts.)

You cannot lock all the doors. If you want it locked, you manually lock all four doors.

The Honda Civic was better than this piece of drivel 20 years ago.

GM was once a great company with great, distinct brands of cars with great, distinct designers and engineers.

I'm sure the Cobalt design meeting went something like this.

Chief Beancounter: "You have $7,000 to spend. Take your pick."

Designer and engineer: "Well, there is an engine, transmission, a body, four seats and four wheels and tires. How much do we have left?"

Chief Beancounter: "You are over budget. Start cutting."

And so on.

A Soap Box Derby car has more creature comforts.

In the midst of our family's GM obsession, when car bodies were made by the Fisher Body Company, my folks were into Buicks.

My mom drove a 1956 Roadmaster. Yellow with white cutouts below the rear fins.

It was a real car designed by real designers and engineers and built by craftsmen.

Those "bullet holes", as I called them, were the coolest things ever. They were reverence for the Buick racers and their racing exhausts.

The car weighed more than Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O'Donnell put together. But it would haul ass if you stepped on that gas pedal.

My mom drove it for years. On the rear deck of the trunk was the chrome name, Roadmaster.

In its last year, a few of the letters fell off due to aging in the Atlanta sun.

Road a ter. The m and s went away. The Roadater it became.

But it was still a car. Something a family could believe in.

Please, dear Lord. Please, dear GM. Please, dear U.S. Government.

Bring back the Roadater.

Don't pour money down a rathole.

Make it a great car company again.

This Cobalt just doesn't cut it.

How do I know?

My 82 year old pops is now driving a Nissan.

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