Thursday, June 11, 2009

Auto Mourning -- Chrysler

I’m in mourning for America’s auto industries major manufacturers, Chrysler, General Motors and Ford. Major changes and bankruptcy are impacting Chrysler and GM. Ownership of Chrysler is now shared with an Italian company, Fiat. GM’s status is more uncertain as is their bankruptcy filing since they do not yet have a suitor to share ownership.

I feel some anger toward these auto industry companies because I believe their executives and boards of directors invited their own downfall by failure to plan car designs and environmental operational changes for the future. I also believe auto consumers must share a portion of the responsibility for their demise since they persisted in recent years buying large monstrosity gas guzzling vehicles reinforcing the auto manufacturers desire to please them.

Vehicles my family has owned in long years past have not always been the most gas efficient, but we did come to recognize the nation and world's conservation environmental needs long before these auto companies apparently were willing to do. We certainly didn’t welcome the most egregious offending vehicles of the past ten years or so. Had we been young with younger children/youth and their athletic, and dancing teams to transport hither and yon, perhaps we might have succumbed to the lure of some of those large bus and truck-like transportation units. I do realize some of them are more efficient then certain regular autos we see driving about, but each of us will have to assess our own transportation system versus polluting concerns. We clearly must adapt now to changes, either willingly or otherwise, given our country’s economic state and the environmental issues facing our nation and planet.

I recall some of the very first automobiles I owned, the thrill and sense of pride I felt purchasing my very first car. Most importantly to me was the feeling of independence that owning a car gave me. I could go anywhere, anytime, on my own.

The day came when I could finally afford my first car -- used, of course. My choice was made following the trusted recommendations of a family member mechanic who had performed repairs on all the major auto company brands. He concluded Chrysler products would hold up best and be the easiest for a mechanic to repair, so I gave serious consideration to his advice. Today's auto repairs are quite different and I've since owned other auto brands.

That first car was special as the first of many experiences in our life tend to be. Somehow, in a manner I’ve long since forgotten, I became aware of a 4 door blue Chrysler sedan, a 1950 New Yorker, I think. In retrospect, I long ago realized that was hardly the kind of car a single girl in her mid-twenties needed. But I was assured by my mechanic the car was in good operating condition and was a good value for the price. Also influencing my purchasing decision was that the car was my favorite blue color. Another attraction was the Chrysler had an early version of the automatic transmission. All I had to do was let up on the gas pedal and adjust the stick shift on the steering wheel each time I wanted to shift gears -- a coordination that wasn’t difficult to learn.

This semi-automatic gear shift was quite an improvement over older model cars with a straight stick gear shift on the floor. That old way of shifting gears required the driver to use one foot pressing to the floor a clutch pedal in coordination with a gear shift by hand, then slowly releasing that foot pedal clutch while pressing the gas pedal with the other foot for just the right acceleration. Poor coordination resulted in jerky forward or backward car movement or maybe even stalling the motor. Many a driver became frustrated or enraged other drivers with erratic car motion trying to develop their driving abilities.

Beginning drivers and good versus poor drivers using these older standard car transmissions were judged klutzes or pros by their ability to perform this coordinating driving skill smoothly. Most drivers, including me, had their share of jerking, stalling driving moments. Getting stuck in slow traffic, or worst of all having to stop going up a hill offered it’s own challenges to keep the car motor going, then resume momentum when traffic started again. I became quite good at driving smoothly with standard transmission cars, but relished my Chrysler's semi-automatic automotive advance.

Here’s an interesting look at Chrysler cars from 1950-1959 provided by John MacDonald.

I hope our nation’s automotive industry becomes independently strong in the future providing the type of transportation needed in our nation and the world.


  1. You certainly brought back memories of early driving. When my husband taught me to drive (big mistake)he used to yell at me "My clutch, my clutch" when I lacked the skill to smoothly start the car and did the jerky movement.

    Yes, that auto industry, aided and abetted by consumers, certainly brought on their demise.

  2. My dad always drove Chrysler cars and told me that they were really the best of the American cars. I have one now (a Town and Country) and I really hate to see them go down!

  3. We had a 1947 Desoto (made and marketed by Chrysler) with a semi-automatic shift. You'd step on the gas, let up the pedal, and the gear would shift--kerklunk! One of my brothers swears by Chrysler cars, as did my dad. He won a Chevy at a drawing at an amusement park in Omaha one time, but he never bought one (or a Ford, either) himself.

  4. What a sad, sad time we are witnessing in our auto industry; but one that they have brought on strictly my themselves and their greedy executives. I too pray out auto indrustry becomes strong again our nation and the world once knew it.

    My dad always bought Buicks when I was growing up; and I remember learning how to drive one of those big 'ol Buicks down some Wisconsin back roads one summer with him. He was the perfect instructor.

  5. The only brand-new car my folks ever owned was a 1950 Dodge - my mother's car. She was so proud of it, and it had an automatic transmission. I did not, however, learn to drive in it.

    I drove my grandmother's 1936 Dodge (at age 11 - in the cow pasture and on back country roads), my brother's 195? Studebaker Silver Hawk (with a learner's permit, in college), and my husband's (our first car for either of us - another learner's permit and the car in which I took my licensure test) 1955 Plymouth Belvedere. All three had standard transmissions, of course.
    Cop Car

  6. Perhaps Automotive Pride will return to America, but I think we've seen the end of the salad days...