31st Aug 2011, 10:56

"I don't understand why some people (mostly import fans) could possibly say that these were bad decades for these 2 companies, when me and many family members all had great experiences with many vehicles from this era"

Because frankly cars from that era from Detroit were awful. And it's not "Import fans" that think so. In general, car enthusiasts like me refer to cars of that type as coming from what we call the "Malaise era", where quality, innovation, design, and engineering all took a back seat. My Dad was a huge GM fan when I was a kid growing up in the late 70's-mid 80's. We had a 81' Chevy Malibu, an 82' Delta 88, a 85 Buick Regal (which was quite a nice car back then) and a Buick Electra. What these cars had in common was that they were crap. Literally crap. Every single one of them were beset with mechanical and electrical problems. From day one the AC failed in the Regal. Within 2 weeks the power windows failed, and the next month the transmission bit the dust. After that experience we owned an 84' Camry. Not exactly the most exciting car ever made, but the thing just ran and ran forever, which after having owned the piles of Detroit junk before, was frankly amazing.

Fast-forward 30 years, and Ford and GM in particular are now building cars people want to drive. That isn't to say they didn't have fans in middle America that were perfectly happy buying up the uninspiring products they had previously made, but for years they made cars and trucks that people on the coasts - where a huge percentage of the population lives - didn't really care for.

As of now they're actually putting a lot of efforts into the styling, technology, and innovation into their cars - much the same as what Toyota and Honda did in the 80's during Detroit's Malaise era. One of the best things they're doing is putting more efforts into small cars. It used to be in the not-so-distant past that the Big 3 focused heavily on big-honkin' trucks and SUVs, and then put out embarrassingly sub-par small cars that were light years behind the Japanese brands. Now they have cars like the Cruze, Focus, and Fiesta - all very competitive, efficient, high quality small cars that are competitive with the likes of Toyota and Honda, versus cars like the Cobalt and Cavalier, which were jokes. I thought I'd never see the day that Detroit would put out a decent or even good small car, but luckily that's exactly what's happened. It's literally a 360 degree turn from what they were doing in the 70's and 80's.

I for one am glad that the cars they used to make are long-gone, because had they continued to make those cars, they would have been out of business a long time ago.

31st Aug 2011, 18:02

The latest safety testing as published in a national news source a few months ago, clearly showed that the safest vehicles on Earth are body-on-frame SUV's. The results showed that you were 3 times as likely to die in a small unibody car in a crash than a body-on-frame SUV. That is why my family will be in a body-on-frame SUV as long as I can find one. Likewise, the old body-on-frame GM, Ford and Chrysler cars were far safer in crashes if the driver and passengers were wearing their seat belts. Of course cars from the 50's were rolling death traps because they had virtually no safety features. Even at that, one only has to look at the crash in 1955 that killed James Dean, to see that even then, large, well-built cars fared better in crashes. Dean's Porsche was totally demolished. It was an unrecognizable pile of twisted metal. The 1951 Ford that hit Dean was hardly damaged and it's driver unhurt, even without seat belts or safety features.

1st Sep 2011, 08:32

Yeah, cars from that era were so bad, I guess that's why many of them make the 300,000 mile mark. They were so bad, that's why there are still many on the road today. Please stick with commenting and defending your Toyota threads, thank you.

1st Sep 2011, 10:53

Most current safety reports give a huge variety of unibody frame vehicles, including current SUVs using this form, as having 5 star safety ratings, which is the highest rating you can get.

Secondly, due to their added height and top-heavy design, SUVs and large trucks are actually not all that safe, given their tendency to roll over more easily. Thus it's an old-fashioned, antiquated assumption, that just because something is big and sits on a frame, it's safer, because in many cases, they aren't in the least.

1st Sep 2011, 17:21

If you think that cars from this era were awful, then you are the first to say so. This was a very popular era for the traditional mid to full-size passenger car. All the problems you claim to have had with the cars you mentioned are virtually unheard of, except there were a few reverse problems with GM's 3 speed 200-R auto trans. if that is the transmission you are referring to, but this usually occurred after the 100k mark.

I really would like to know what was so "uninspiring" about these designs. It can't be much except for your opinion, because the Caprice, Cadillac Brougham, and every full-sized wagon from each division lingered on a lot longer after 1984 when most rear-drives were changed to front-drive. That would be because there were still many people of all ages that still had a high desire to own them.

Another thing is many Ford, GM full and mid-size from the late seventies-mid eighties have a high desire to be collectable, just take a look on E-bay and see how many of these low mileage, mint condition gems that are selling for the same if not higher price of when they were brand new. I understand that these are not your type of vehicle, and that's fine with me, but don't say that they were "awful" when in reality they sold very well, and for the most part were very reliable. Look up some of those years and models on this site alone, and see how many people who are pleased with them with many many miles, and they still run like a bear.

2nd Sep 2011, 13:39

We're talking about 1980's Chevy Caprice classics? There wasn't anything remarkable about cars like those at all. They were big boxes using ancient powertrains. I'm not the first to say that Detroit iron from the 70's and especially 80's was awful. Most car enthusiasts agree. It's also the era in which the quality was so terrible that Japanese cars made serious inroads into the US market. Remember the Vega, Pinto, and Fairmont? Those cars were put out onto the market as a knee-jerk reaction to the fuel crisis, and they were all terrible cars - especially the Vega with its Reynolds aluminum engine that loved to blow head gaskets.

What about all those Chrysler products from the 70's? Those things rusted away faster than the Titanic. What about the 80's Taurus? They used dissimilar metals in the transmissions, causing the pans to leak. That, and you were lucky if you made it to 90,000 before the head gasket blew.

There was absolutely nothing exciting about any of the cars made from that era. That's why - as mentioned before - it's referred to as the "Malaise era". Sure - there were a few promising products. The Taurus despite its many faults was a revolutionary family car. The Pontiac Fiero would've been a winner too had the bean counters not bean counted it to bits. But if we're talking about cars like the early 90s Caprice - that big, ugly looking bulbous car, then you've lost me. Cars like these were what brought down GM. The people who were buying those boats were old people. Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Buick were all making terribly dated, out of touch cars that only old people would buy. So much so that these brands became synonymous with retirees. There was nothing "Sexy" about the Cadillacs of the 80's. Big, bloated, boring boats. Granted - I have a 1950's "Boat" of my own, but that car has style. There's a difference.

Now - as previously mentioned, GM, Ford, and even Chrysler are doing MUCH better than they were a few years ago. I believe they've finally gotten the message that in order to build customer loyalty and gain new ones, then you've got to build competent, reliable, desirable products. It's no longer good enough to build giant SUVs and trucks that people in middle America love to buy, while ignoring the small car market - the types of vehicles people in major metropolitan areas want. Its also no longer good enough to stick cars in generic looking uninspiring wrappers. Style. Reliability. Efficiency. Innovation. Technology. Price. All of those things are crucial to a car company, and thankfully I think the Big 3 have finally gotten it. I hope they continue as they are currently doing.