You say you have friends and family that had bad GM's and Fords. In the past I have owned all GM cars, and currently own a Lincoln, and I do believe your comment, even though all of mine were near flawless.
What tends to get annoying is when somebody else comments that they know so and so who had a horrific import, and then all the import fans on this site automatically think it's either a lie or a bogus claim.
Our 57-year-old GM does not have a spot of rust on it. The body by Fisher is still solid as a rock, and the doors shut with the pleasing "thunk" of a new car. The interior is 100% original and in great shape (though the seats have been covered by after-market protective covers since 1957). The original 4-speed Hydromatic transmission is totally original, and shifts like new after just over a quarter million miles.
As for who to blame for "bad domestics", I have no idea. I've never seen a bad domestic. I started out driving many years ago in a 1949 Ford Custom Flathead 6. We've owned literally dozens of domestic vehicles from all three of the "Big Three" over the years, and we have never had a single engine or transmission replaced in any of them. Very few of them have had any problems before 200,000 miles, and none has had a problem in less than 100,000 miles.
I honestly believe the import dealers and buyers have tried to re-write history by creating the myth that older domestics were somehow poorly built. I never saw any evidence of that in any of ours. Our 50's, 60's and 70's domestics were incredibly well-built and reliable. With the newer domestics, I never even bother checking anything under the hood (except oil changes) before 50,000 miles. I just added the first few drops power steering fluid and brake fluid to our current GM car. It has just over 105,000 miles on it. It still has the original brake pads. All it has required in 10 years is one set of tires, two batteries and one light bulb. This has been typical of every domestic vehicle we have ever owned.
I very seriously doubt that the majority of those who constantly put down American industry and American cars have ever even sat in one, let alone driven one.
The irony here is that you hardly ever see people who make comments in regards to domestic cars start these sort of debates to begin with. 90% of the time it starts with someone making a posting about a Toyota or Honda (most of the time anyway), and lo and behold, we see the exact same comments made by people claiming just how much they dislike imports (and of course their language is extremely vague as to lump all imports together), and thus the debate resumes as always.
I too own a classic domestic car. Sorry, but none of these cars were meant to run for vast periods of time. That isn't to say that on a rare occasion people like me and others could turn around and say: " Well oh yeah? mine lasted for a zillion miles!" or whatnot. Truth be known, for the average American car back in the 50's-70's, once the engine got to around 50,000 or so, the car was more or less done for. It was economically more feasible to simply buy another car instead of trying to keep the old one limping along. That isn't to say they were bad cars. Its was simply a case of the technology available then. I've owned mine for years, and I change the oil every 500 miles. The oil that comes out at that interval is filthy. On top of that, everything has to be kept in perfectly tuned condition. Now - for people like us who keep meticulous care of their old cars - of course to us they are "good" cars. But once more, for the average American back then, they drove them and the cars simply wore out.
But in any regards, the notion of this non-stop debate about foreign versus domestic cars is grossly old-fashioned and impractical as a point of reference for today's economy. My Granddad thought this exact same way: that things were strictly one way or another. Luckily that way of thinking is fading away...
If you don't like imports, stop making comments about them, because nobody is going to change their minds as a result.
Well said (and I own 2 domestics that I like very much).
The only point that I have a bit of an issue with, is your statement regarding 50,000 miles. In my opinion, the cars of that era could last 100,000 miles with proper maintenance, provided the bodies or frames didn't rust away.
I owned a 1974 Camaro (purchased new) for 29 years. It was a "good weather only" car. But rust started popping up within the first 2 or 3 years. Thankfully back in the 70's the cost to repair surface rust was relatively low. I made the difficult decision to sell it in 2003 (with only 22,000 miles on the odometer) when I no longer had a garage to store it in.
I've also owned a number of imports, and would not hesitate to purchase another, however as far as SUV's go, I'm very partial to Jeeps.
Well certain domestic cars that we owned from the 70's were also kept until they were "worn out"; that would be about 150,000 plus miles, and they still ran great when they were sold.
Vehicles from the 50's - the 70's were indeed good and reliable. Most people back then did not commute as much or as far as they do today, therefore the car was traded in after 5 years with lower miles, just because they wanted something with a new styling change, which was much more noticeable back then, as opposed to today's crap that all looks the same, even after a major restyle.
My family has owned domestics since the 50's. None of them ever "wore out" at a puny 50,000 miles. Most of them went well over 100,000 miles without a repair. The only cars that my family ever owned that had problems as early as 50,000 miles, were a Honda and a Mazda.
The comments above made my point. Yep - there will always be exceptions. I'm sure that somewhere in America there's a few people that managed to put 250,000 miles on their Yugo. They could say something like:
"Oh yeah? well my Yugo lasted for 250,000 miles so in my opinion, they're perfect cars!"
But exceptions aren't meant to measure mean averages, and the average for most any car from the 50's-70's, regardless of its nationality, was significantly less than today's cars - again - regardless of brand. I am a child of the 70's, and I can distinctly remember cars from that era. By 50,000 miles most cars were in the same condition as a car of today with 200,000 miles. They were for the most part well-worn. If you made it to 100,000 miles, it was something to brag about.
The primary advantage of older domestic cars is that they were cheap to start with, easy to work on, and cheap to buy parts for. If you have a cherry picker around the garage, you can stick in a re-built engine in about 4-5 hours or less. Parts are also dirt-cheap. A water pump for my 50's Ford is $20. Most of the parts are cheap, and most can be replaced in under an hour. Just try to do that on most any modern car: you'll spend hours just removing the plastic shrouds, wiring harnesses, and cables. To me, the advantage of classic cars is that theoretically they can economically be kept running... forever. I've had mine for over 12 years. Is it reliable? Not really. But I can always fix it and know what's wrong immediately. No computers, sensors, emission equipment, or complex electrical systems.