Five Favorite….Captive Imports?

Captive imports…and why did they exist anyway?

At a time when the call was to tune down the horsepower and prepare for an oil crisis, a recession and a never ending war overseas, domestic automakers figured it was high time to build another round of compact cars. By going smaller, there were two routes to take: Build them domestically or import them from a global partner somewhere. Three out of the four North American automakers chose the latter.

Chrysler had been selling Simcas and Sunbeams alongside Barracudas and Imperials through the 1960s. Simca and Sunbeam were a part of growing European operation for the Pentastar. In turn, Chrysler looked high and low to match the incoming compacts from General Motors, Ford and American Motors. They went across both the Atlantic and Pacific for their answers. Ford sold some European products at their dealerships in the past – the Cortina was the most popular and the Capri was a mainstay at Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. GM sold Opels at Buick dealers, but would soon play the captive import game as early as 1976.

You could also stretch the captive import involvement to AMC – that is if you include the subcompact Metropolitan that was jointly developed between Nash and Austin. They actually sold Metropolitans with the Hudson badge for a bit. At one time, Mitsubishi imported the Hyundai Excel for some of its dealers in the USA.

Los Angeles 2011: The Auto Show that's 23 Miles from Victory & Reseda

It's true – I grew up 23 miles away from the site of this year's Los Angeles Auto Show.

So, how did I get 1,935 miles away from it? Why was I not there to cover it? Long story…but the show did yield some spectacular debuts. Some of these world premieres were well worth the wait.

It is a good thing that the Los Angeles Auto Show found resonance in its timeslot in November. The show itself puts the West Coast in the spotlight for our industry. November in Los Angeles is a great time to soak it all in – just before the Thanksgiving crush.

I'm talking about those of us in and around the automotive industry. But, for those of you who are planning to attend the show…what a way to spend turkey week!

Five Favorites from Auto Show Seasons Past

Next year will mark ten years since I covered my first auto show. No, seriously…

It is a momentous occasion since working press at an auto show has evolved from covering what's new on the scene as a place

Yet, sometime within the last month or so, someone on Twitter called press days at an auto show as sort of a "circle jerk." I get his frustration, as covering the industry certainly has changed over time. Traditional media has been threatened by the likes of myself…and we're being threatened by outlets that can distill the news even quicker.

Still, there is room at the table for all of us – and we're networking with each other all the time. In fact, the industry and the press are interconnected in ways unimaginable when it was strictly the traditional media covering the industry.

In retort to that Tweet that called auto show press days a "circle jerk," I still believe that we need a day to meet with our industry counterparts, enjoy the excitement of vehicle launches and provide varying perspectives on the industry back to you – the readership.

Since the first major USA show is coming up at the Los Angeles Convention Center; this actually calls for a Five Faves post! This posting revolves a single question: What five vehicles made my auto show press coverage experience worth the effort?

That would mean logging back top the 2002 Chicago Auto Show – the one I covered with Midwest Ursine/Tillery Publications along with current Windy City Banner publisher Tom Wray.

I did come up with five vehicles over the past ten years. Here they are…

The Class of 1982

Thirty years ago…a lot happened.

The list can go on forever, but I will concentrate on the most important thing overall: Graduating high school. As I realize today that I am indeed on the latter side of my forties, remembering every moment of that year seems a bit difficult these days.

Thankfully, there's Google. Not for what I exactly did in 1982 – but, rather, the trivial parts of that year.

At the onset of graduation, I ended up the responsibility of car ownership. The 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Luxury Sedan of my mother's was in my care. I was free to do what I please with it – replace tires, fuel up daily, baby the car when it overheated…and so forth.

By that time, I truly grasped the idea of the automobile and its inner workings. At least it was getting there. Sports, cars and music filled my time in-between studies and various plots to go somewhere else. Girls? Well…you probably know where that went by now.

As a public service to the Reseda High School Class of 1982, I offer this little glimpse at our senior year through the windshield of the automobile industry.

It's SEMA Time!

Tweet 2013 Lexus GS by Five Axis. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Remember the IAA in Frankfurt? Of course you did. Any…

Five Favorites from 1977

Tweet 1977 Cadillac Coupe deVille. Photo (c) 1976, 2011 General Motors Corporation Thirty-five years ago, automobile dealers in North America anticipated a major change…

The Speculator: Dodge's New Compact

With the compact market climbing into prominence in the past year, there is still a feeling that something is still missing from the party. But, what would be missing here? Or, rather, who?

Back in November of 2009, Sergio Marchionne revealed how Chrysler will be able to get back to prominence by 2014 – with Fiat's help. Part of the plan was to develop a series of automobiles from then-new platform that would envelop about four automotive segments for both Fiat and Chrysler. Fiat's C-Evo platform was seen as Chrysler's savior…but it means a whole lot more.

The first product off of this platform was not a Chrysler. Rather, it was an Alfa Romeo – the Giulietta. This important compact was designed to face off against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Renault Megane, Opel/Vauxhall Astra…and so forth. The new Alfa was well received in Europe and is packed with the right stuff to battle in this segment on the other side of the pond.

Obviously, there will be more products coming off of the same platform in the years to come. One of which will be revealed in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This product alone is perhaps the most important of anything either Fiat S.p.A. or Chrysler Group LLC would have coming down the line.

After "Auld Lang Sine" has died down for another New Year's, Dodge's new compact car will be revealed to the universe.

Five Favorites for the Woodward Dream Cruise

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

Name the biggest display of automotive history to ever roll down a single street?

Normally, such an event is called a "cruise." By calling it a "cruise," it means a display of cars of yesteryear where you can expect brutal exhaust noise and the rumbling of very large engines. The vehicles on display are indeed impressive, from old-school hit rods to today's tuner specials.

Not everywhere has such as "cruise." During the "Back to the '50's" weekend here in the Twin Cities, there is normally a "cruise" of the vehicles displayed at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to Porky's, an old drive-in on University Avenue in St. Paul. However, the construction of the Central Corridor and the closure of Porky's have altered plans for the annual event.

Still, there is one cruise that refuses to yield to any road construction or transit development. The cruise takes place in the city where the automobile remains the economic engine for a city and its region. The street is a long one stretching from the banks of a river connecting two Great Lakes to somewhere towards the center of the lower half of the state.

Commentary: Pentastar Trending

Tweet I love social media. No, seriously, I do. It's a great way to connect with people and entities following a common interest and…

The "Bear-Sized Sedan Comparison" Revisited

There was one thing I'd rather not do if absolutely necessary: Make comparisons.

I found that by making a comparison would put me in a precarious situation. This always results in leaving something significant out of the mix. It is not certain whether I was able to pull it off in my Capstone back in grad school. Considering the grade I received, I may have done the trick.

That is why I will never write a full article comparing automobiles on this blog. It is not that I doubt my ability to do so. Simply because I'd rather take the take to get to know a single subject and concentrate on the ins and outs of said vehicle to make a proper conclusion.