I don’t know why I get so misty over what’s happening to General Motors. I know it has something to do with the fact that, at a certain point in my childhood, my father and I could identify the make and model of every American car we saw on the road. In those days, the cars on the road were made in America.
There was grandeur to the entire industry back then. Auto showrooms had carpeting. Cars, on a rug! As a kid, it blew your mind. New car ads featured beautiful women in evening gowns, because GM projected the image that its products brought class to the middle class. I don’t know if the women had anything to do with it, but my old man always bought Chevys. He just liked them. And a new one at our house was an event on par with the birth of a child. Back then Americans would often behold someone’s newborn child and claim that the kid had “new baby smell.”
But lo, GM is vanishing. Last Friday the directors of GM authorized the automaker to explore the “feasibility” of a global alliance with Nissan of Japan and its French partner Renault. I’m pretty sure they’ll discover a merger is feasible, especially since the French company will likely surrender to the other two.
There’s a world of reasons GM has ended up needing to merge, but one thing now seems clear: at some point, GM stopped making cars that Americans wanted to buy. And I think if they’re going to hang on to any territory in this alliance, they’re going to need some pitches on cars Americans not only want but also need. Here are some ideas on that.
The Nanny Wagon
So-called “family” cars from Detroit don’t really meet the needs of families. The Nanny Wagon would be a small van with lots of safety padding but no seats in the back. It would basically be a padded cell on wheels, something parents with young kids often fantasize about, either for the kids or for themselves. In addition, an on-board robot named “Lucy” would be programmed to pay attention to kids at every moment. Lucy would have the ability to continuously answer the question “Why?” up to 20,000 times, a great feature for any child who likes to ask that question 20,000 times, continuously.
Auto racing fans love watching cars burning gas and driving camper vans that burn gas as well as getting obese from junk foods. The Nascar would be a large motor home with appliances that burned gas instead of electricity. Such as the Richard Petty Pizza Oven that heats your favorite snacks on the block of a V8 engine. Along with the furniture built out of scrapped Ford Torinos, the entire vehicle weighs in at 16,000 pounds and gets about 40 yards to the gallon. Which makes the “Support Our Troops” decal on the back bumper just a little distasteful.
The Buick Isolator
Americans feel invisible inside their cars. That’s why you often see people in cars seat-dancing to the radio or scratching their extremities or cleaning their ears or worse. The Isolator steers and drives using an elaborate video system that replaces car windows. Which means you’re free to drive around naked. Believe me, the TV commercials for these cars are going to generate sales. Two words: Paris Hilton.
The Pontiac Woody
Why stop at door trim? The Woody will be made entirely of wood. And a part of your purchase price goes to replanting the trees that were used in manufacture. But is it safe? Yes. Because the only way we can have cars made out of wood is to have every car and truck made out of wood. So every vehicle on the road would have to slow down and travel at a safe speed… always. Which means that every year, thousands of lives would be saved. Hmm. Maybe the Flintstones knew what they were doing. If only cavemen had been in charge of General Motors…