First of all, why are you comparing a 1978 Lincoln Continental to a Chevy Cruze? The two brands are in totally different areas of the market. There's no competition.
Again, a Chevy Cruze is great for commuters who have to drive long distances to get to work. But if you think that car is going to take over the world, then be prepared for disappointment. Sure, it might take over for the lower and middle class, but try convincing Ben Bernanke to drive one; won't happen.
By the way, what good is a fast car in speed restricted North America?
The bottom line is that what modern people think are cars today, are actually nothing compared to what our wealthy elites drive. Hell, they probably make jokes about the types of average cars they see on the road today. Back in the 1950s to the 1980s, the gap between rich and average in terms of vehicle quality was actually comparable; nowadays it's not even mentionable.
By the way, the EPA actually does indirectly control the size of car engines and dimensions. By imposing fines for every 0.1 gallon under their current CAFE standards on each car produced, they can effectively limit and influence what kinds of cars will be developed. Trucks and SUVs escape these standards, but cars are easy prey for the EPA and their financial backers.
I was thinking about this last night (I'm the guy on vacation renting the Cruze). Perhaps a good comparison of what's going on on this discussion would be the shift in the tastes in food. For example, say in the 1950's and 60's, if you went to a "fancy" restaurant you'd get your iceberg lettuce salad with captain wafer salad, some cheap cut of meat with taters, and some sort of over cooked vegetables, and maybe jello pudding for dessert. That was considered fancy circa 1955, and for those who were around then, they will swear up and down that it's the best food ever, as they go to their early bird specials in their 1999 Crown Victoria with crushed velour interior.
It's the same thing with cars. Those who only know that the type of car they are familiar with, are the "best" cars ever, and lo and behold, anyone that tells them different, well automatically they must be wrong. It's as simple as that.
"Live by work and consolidate food shopping etc."
^This! A short commute costs less $ and frees up more time.
What good is a fast car in America? In Florida it's 70 MPH. Plus we have tracks and drag strips all over the country for club events. Also the air conditioning strain on the engine is minimal. Imagine living in the mountains and climbing hills in a Prius. On a long vast interstate, I would rather have a nice V8 and relax.
Nice analogy. Some people want a plain meat and potato car. Thus the shape of it. Then there are the more discerning ones that prefer a more refined dining experience. Some see a high price sticker, and are not even going to evaluate it, let alone buy one new.
The comments my father had with his Town Cars, were that they were quiet, refined, comfortable and had nice amenities. Really nice on trips. Nice leather, appointments, additional sound deadening everywhere. It also exudes success. Clients see someone in some beater; it does not instill a lot of confidence. These vehicles new are not cheap. My opinion of it all was simply they wanted nice vehicles. You can compare them with small cars all day long; it's not the same in any shape or form.
It would be nice to see some owners that had these new. I have also been in new Continentals in the early 70s. As far as comfort, I found a late 70s Chrysler Newport was even nicer and more comfortable. I liked the double thickness of the seats, the lack of a window side post, and the hideaway lights. It rode better.
The last new Town Car we had was a new 1988. Best ride of all.
I owned a used 1970 Cadillac Limousine once, and put a review up on here. Pretty unusual cool car, and I bought it on a whim. That's fun to do at times.
Sadly you're right, and people's preferences have changed. I've never seen people's preferences change so much to a point where it drove an entire market segment almost extinct though. The Feds played a bit of a role in helping too I guess, so that makes sense.
The other problem is that a lot of younger people know next to nothing about cars, and see them merely as appliances for transportation, nothing more. People today just want something to get them around that doesn't demand anything or cause trouble for them and their wallets. They don't care about styling or luxury, they only view cars as simple transportation, and don't know anything about them.
Back then, people used to actually know a lot about their cars and care for them themselves mostly. A car was almost an extension of one's family, not a mere appliance. Of course, the better off Americans bought new cars every 2-3 years to keep up with their neighbors, but they still cared about the cars. You don't see that enough anymore.
While I'll bet everybody on this thread cares much about their cars and knows a good number of facts about their vehicles, we're a slowly dwindling minority, being replaced by younger people who only care about buying the most efficient car possible. It's a sad state of affairs, and it's only going to keep getting worse. My advice, buy a classic while you still can and keep it forever. Don't treat it as a appliance, treat it as a sort of extension of your family.
I'm a senior citizen who has owned and driven many cars since I began driving in 1960. I've owned huge, plush land yachts and small compacts. Today I own a sports car, SUV and mid-size sedan. Although the large older cars such as the 70's Lincolns were unmatched in luxury and reliability, in today's world they are simply not practical as daily drivers. They are too big, use too much gas, and are hard to park. For 90 percent of my driving, I prefer my mid-size sedan, and will probably opt for a compact or sub-compact when I replace it.
I don't agree.
I have driven numerous cars; Mitsubishi Eclipse, Honda Prelude, Civic, Nissan Maxima, Quest, BMW 3 and 5 Series, Hyundai Elantra, Santa Fe, Ford Taurus, F-150, Focus, Chevy Malibu, Oldsmobile Ciera, Subaru Forester, Impreza, VW Jetta and Golf, and Audi etc...
Give me a full size Crown Victoria, Town Car, or 80's/90's Caprice over any of those cars any day. Best ride comfort, smooth suspension and handling, bulletproof reliability, and RWD V-8 power to boot.
There is a reason why these antiquated cars stayed on the market so long; a lot of people liked them, and there is a reason why they are chosen for taxi and law enforcement fleets as well, as they're one of the only cars that will do over 400k on their original drivetrain with basic maintenance.