President's Message - Feb 2019
Monday, January 14, 2019
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved one(s)!
I will wager at least some of you thought I was talking about your car(s)—not this time. I’m talking about your spouse, partner or the family members who love you. Some of them truly enjoy the hobby, but many watch those auction and car restoration programs or go to car shows and swap meets with you; not because they want to, but because they care about you. This is an excellent time to remember to show our appreciation to those we love.
That segues into this month’s consideration. Does anyone, besides us, actually love their cars anymore? Not many. I think I know why: a lack of choice. For most of us, our first car was a hand-me-down from a relative or a neighbor. When we got a chance to buy a new car, we picked out exactly what we wanted. We decided the color and options.
Recently, the editor of one car magazine recounted the saga of new-car shopping in the modern era. He found that he’d have to accept the car the way the factory had decided to equip it.
This lack of choice started with the rise of imported cars in the ’70s. If you wanted a green car, you got a beige interior, notwithstanding your desire for white. Despite this lack of choice, the import dealers quickly sold every car on their lots. Domestic manufacturers saw this and decided that it was the way to go, too. I submit that this lack of choice was the beginning of the end of America’s automotive love affair.
My first new car was an Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight. I ordered it equipped the way I wanted it. It had a diesel engine and every available interior option except leather. Although probably 98 percent of Ninety-Eights came trimmed out, I left off the vinyl roof, rocker moldings, and hood wind split, but did insist on bumper guards, alloy wheels, and the touring suspension.
In those days, you could save quite a bit if you let the car go into the employee fleet. I thought that would be a great way to save a few dollars. Ordering a unique car can be both good and bad. Good, because it was precisely the way I wanted it. Bad, because it was so unusual, that it attracted attention. I tracked my car as it came up on the various mileage-related discount levels.
I was dreaming of driving my new car when I got a call on a Friday afternoon. An executive had seen my car and became enamored with it. He expressed interest in the Olds as he had never seen one equipped like it. You know where this is going, don’t you? Yes, he decided he had to have it. I was told he was coming to get it on Monday. If I still wanted it, I needed to beat him there with a check in hand. I still pine after that car to this day.
I believe that more people would love their cars and understand why we love our cars if they could get them exactly the way they wanted them. We’re fortunate that the prior owners of our Cadillacs and LaSalles built them the way we wanted them so we can treasure them the way they did.
So, take the one you love in the car you love and go…Happy Motoring!