Ten Cars That Sank Detroit

Real Estate Agent with Galleria International Realty

I ran across the following article on Yahoo! titled 10 Cars That Sank Detroit that I want to share.  When the 3 auto manufacturers came to DC (both times) asking for a bailout, there was a lot of talk about unions bleeding the companies, high pension costs, etc.  Now those are important considerations, but in my opionion not the #1 problem.  I've said it several times here and I'll repeat it again:  the #1 reason Detroit has problems is because for the most part, their products stink.  American cars do not compare to imports and that's the bottom line.

Sure we make good SUVs and we make good pickups too, but that's not the bulk of autos on the road.  And those few that we do a decent job at are often not fuel efficient.  Back to the cars......what cars do we have that are good?  The Corvette......what else?  Pretty much nothing

If I had my way, I'd keep the Corvette, Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee and perhaps a few select cars.  The rest I'd ditch in the Mariana Trench and start clean.  Study the Germans and Japanese and learn from them.  Japan automobile imports went from crummy to hot in about 20 years.  I think the US can match their counterparts in 5 years.  I have never owned and American car and never will if they don't commit to a better product.  Detroit needs to get their heads out of their nether regions and recognize the real reason they're sinking.

Comments (39)

Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495
Stage it Right! - Melbourne, FL

Really Mike?  About the PT Cruiser?  I had one, I didn't find it at all "less fuel efficient than a pickup."  And carries less?  Lets see, we evacuated in 04 right before hurricane Frances.  I had 5 cats in large cages, two medium size dogs, all the stuff we needed to haul out of the house and take with, such as computers and boxes of important papers, clothing, pet food, and then my husband and myself.  I was extremely pleased with the amount of cargo space in that car.  On the other hand I wouldnt own a pickup.  I know what kind of gas mileage they get.

Apr 05, 2009 02:09 AM
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

Terry - PT Cruisers get notoriously bad mileage, that is one of the primary complaints about them, along with excessive oil burning and poor performance, especailly the 4 cyl. I have had them as rental vehicles several times, I know people that have them, my Ranger gets better highway mileage and combined mileage. If you are carrying four passengers, there is very little room for cargo in what passes for the trunk. On the other hand, I can carry four in my truck and still have over six feet of cargo bed available. Or, I could have carried everything you did, plus still have room for mor than twice as much more.  It is obvious that you have no clue what mileage pickups get.

Apr 05, 2009 11:59 AM
Michelle Viggiano
Four Winds Healthy Home Carpet & Air Duct Cleaning - Scottsdale, AZ

I had a bet with a General Contractor on a job site where I was working -  that hated women being present on the site. I was both the interior designer and the faux finishing contractor. So he gave me hell whenever he saw a possible glimmer of an opportunity.  Anyway, I was lamenting that I wished I could buy a car that was serviceable to my faux finishing business that wouldn't depreciate. He overheard and said, no way, impossible...I bet you $500.00 there is no way you will ever find such a thing... 

 I was once a person that only purchased European cars. First car was an Audi, then a BMW then a Jaguar and then another BMW, then the strangest thing happened. This GC irritated me so much that I investigated auto possibilities.  Well, I bought an older 6 cylinder El Camino for next to nothing, and I love it. It is the least expensive car to maintain, is really versatile in terms of what it can carry.  And I get offers way above what I paid for it almost weekly. I am not saying that I am a true convert, but this particular American Car is my dream car. Oh, and I got a $500.00 bonus from someone who will never bet a woman on a job site again.

Apr 05, 2009 12:34 PM
Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495
Stage it Right! - Melbourne, FL

Mike, my PT got 24-26 mpg.  Notoriously bad mileage?  BTW the car was NOT classified as a light truck!  Where do you get all that misinformation?  Not FIX noise I hope.

Michelle, I drool over El Caminos!  They are the coolest!

Apr 05, 2009 01:59 PM
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

Terry - From the InternetAutoGuide "The Chrysler PT Cruiser is designed by Chrysler, offers a spacious interior large enough for five passengers, and it is a front wheel drive automobile that is classified as a light truck/compact vehicle". Do a little research. The PT Cruiser was specifically designed to meet the NHTSA requirements for a light truck. It's a bit of game playing the manufacturers use.  Let me give you another hint, enter PT Cruiser Light Truck into google and you will get hundreds of references.

In regards to mileage, except for one model, they get worse mpg than my ranger. And the only model that gets better has the anemic engine with manual transmission. Yes, they get notoriously bad mileage, like I said, one of the top three complaints, mileage, burning excess oil, lack of power.

Michelle - I love the El Camino, which year was yours? I had to chose between an SS 396 or a loaded GTO, I went for the GTO.

Apr 06, 2009 09:09 AM
Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495
Stage it Right! - Melbourne, FL

Mike excuse me, my insurance company rated that car as a car not a truck, and I drove that car for 5 years so think I might know a litle more about the gas mileage than you.  Oh and it never burned oil and had great pickup.  I guess I had the only PT on the planet that was worth a darn eh?

Apr 06, 2009 09:35 AM
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

Terry - what your insurance company rates the car as has nothing to do with what the government rates it. Perhaps you were one of the lucky ones.

The PT Cruiser was designed with a flat floor pan and foldable seats in order to qualify as a light truck and not just a station wagon.

I had a boat that was 21 ft long, but, for insurance purposes was only 19'6".

Apr 06, 2009 10:02 AM
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

Jay - No, I'm focusing on the fact that most vehicles, particularly cars made by the Big 3 are not of a quality that I care for.  In the part your referring to, I'm giving *my* suggestion on what I would do, however not relegated to cars only.  Perhaps I should have used the term "vehicle".  As for what a Wrangler is, I asked my gf and she says she doesn't consider hers a "car".  Perhaps it's a true SUV...I mean, the people I know who own them actually don't relegate the tires to asphalt.

Why doesn't GM rid of everything and sell the 11 light truck/truck and SUV class vehicles and make loads of money?

I don't know the answer, but if I were to guess, I would say that they did well while the economy was booming and people were buying, not caring about gas mileage.  Things have changed a bit.  I'm curious if all 11 of those lines are still profitable.  Also, there isn't all that much foreign competition for some of these vehicles, so consumers don't have that much choice in terms of what they buy.  If I wanted a pickup truck, I'm probably going to buy American.



Apr 07, 2009 04:43 AM
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

Susan - No, I haven't.  I've owned 5 cars...2 from Japan, 2 from Germany and 1 from Sweden.  I feel that overall American cars have improved over the past decade or two, the problem is that other manufacturers have improved more rapidly.  Look at how far the Koreans have come in 2 decades!  I do agree with you that there are good and bad with all, I'm just dismayed that our country doesn't own the industry worldwide.

And I'm not discounting the problem(s) with the unions, I'm just saying that a quality product is or should be the priority.


Trey - WOW!!! 


Michelle - An El Camino, eh?  I rarely see those on the road anymore.  That would probably qualify as a "unique vehicle".  Maybe we should give your car to Detroit and have them use that as the blueprint for good cars?  ;-)

Apr 07, 2009 04:59 AM
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

Dear Tchaka,

I have had both American cars and foreign cars. My fave it still an American made 1965 Chevy Corvair convertible. At the moment I drive a Honda CRV.


Apr 09, 2009 12:23 PM
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., ABR, GRI, SRES - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty

I have never had an American car and think foreign cars are a better investment because they have fewer problems and last longer.  My husband has a Jeep Wrangler and I don't think we will ever sell it, it's been a great vehicle for us.

Apr 20, 2009 02:31 AM
Jay-Paul Lowry
Riverside, CA

Tchaka - They are still the only profitable lines (this is recent info). Some people try to say that electric is more popular and the Prius is the second coming. Its so funny. GMC Sierra/Chevy Silverado sold 5 times more than the Prius did in 2008 despite gas prices.



The business model of the Auto Companies is what ruined them. How could any company afford to pay for life time benefits of over 700,000 people. Think of like a cart with people riding and people pushing. Eventually if too many people become riders you wont be able to move the cart.


Apr 21, 2009 11:39 AM
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

Betina - That Corvair must be nice!!  If I had zillions I'd get a Shelby Cobra 427.  :-)

Patricia - You and I are on the same wavelength, thanks for commenting!

Jay - Thanks for the links.  Several things I must point out:

1.  Higher total sales does not make one better than the other.  Case in point:  there were probably less than 10,000 M3s sold in the US in 2008.

2.  This blog isn't about GMC Sierra/Chevy Silverado vs. electric cars and Priuses....or Priae?

Apr 22, 2009 12:59 AM
Jay-Paul Lowry
Riverside, CA

Tchaka - I thought the title of the post was about what cars sank Detroit? One would think cars that dont sell would sink an automaker. The prius remark was because it seems on AR there is alot of thought that nobody buys the SUV/Trucks from GM and people prefer the Prius because of mileage. The purpose of the links was to dispell that myth.


I dont know the prural spelling for Prius either..hahaha



Apr 22, 2009 05:29 AM
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

Dear Tchaka,

I love the Shelby too! I would not turn it down if someone handed me the keys!! The Corvair is a cousin to the Corvette and Camero. In fact the corvair had the famous rear suspension before the Corvette. I think we should toss all the oversized SUV's into a pit. Don't put them in the ocean it would kill more fish!


May 04, 2009 07:00 AM
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

Well, it appears one automaker has been reading this blog.  ;-)

Here's a piece that just appeared on CNN's Money site: New Ford Plants

We cannot expect electric cars to be cost-effective at this juncture, it will take time, development and modifications to fit our needs.  But at some point in the future (10 years?) they will have a significant impact.

May 06, 2009 05:02 AM
Holly Weatherwax
Associate Broker, Momentum Realty - Reston, VA
A Great Real Estate Experience

Tchaka,  Interesting post.  I thought it was significant that 2 of the 3 cars you mentioned that you would own are made by the American car company who is having the hardest time.  Just goes to show that Chrysler management is a huge problem.

Personally, I can't imagine who is running those companies. The brands they are keeping don't make a lot of sense to me....Buick, really?  Most Buicks on the road are 10-15 years old; it speaks to their quality, but who is buying them?  I can't think of a single person I know who owns a Buick.

I was considering looking at Saturns because they make cars that have good reputations and good milage (as well as being attractive). They are getting rid of that one.  Who are they using for their market studies?

The whole thing is confounding to me...right now we don't own an American car (and haven't since 1994) because we haven't found one that provided all that we needed--and wanted.

May 07, 2009 01:35 AM
COMPASS - Palm Springs, CA
COMPASS Palm Springs - Broker Associate

It astounds me that American cars have never been quality products.

Take a look at any 10 or 15 year old American car and compare it to a 10 or 15 year old Japanese or German Car, and please be sure that both vehicles have been maintatined equally as dilligently.

I'm sure the American car will be worse-for-wear.

May 24, 2009 06:53 AM
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

I can't disagree, Stewart.....I drive a 12 year old German car that's hot!

May 24, 2009 05:31 PM
Bob & Leilani Souza
Souza Realty 916.408.5500 - Roseville, CA
Greater Sacramento Area Homes, Land & Investments

I'm arriving quite late in the game, Tchaka, but I agree that the Corvette is the best (and only?) American car I like and would love to put in my garage, vintage or new! I've only owned German, which I am very happy with...and my husband has owned a series of American-made trucks, which he's very happy with, as well. :)


Dec 02, 2009 05:57 PM