Loves New F-150

I just bought a new 2004 F-150 Lariat (something you could never have convinced me I would ever do) after seeing one at my dealership while turning in my lease. After being attracted by the lines of the new model, the interior made me actually want to test drive the truck.

I was sold after the test drive and decided to buy instead of lease because I will be keeping this beauty. It is without doubt the best light pickup truck I have ever been in or around, and I have bought a lot of trucks over the years for my business. But I have never been tempted to buy one for personal use until now.
Jeffrey M. Scott
Allan Tool & Machine Co.
Troy, MI

Chrysler Didn't Invent Minivan

I read in Letters to the Editor a few months back (see WAW — April '03, p.7) that Volkswagen had minivans back in the '60s and '70s, and the writer was complaining about an article proclaiming Chrysler the minivan inventor.

Having been in a family whose mom drove a VW minivan just like today's “soccer” moms do, I agreed with the writer of the letter. Yes, I know the VW minivan was rear engine, but at the time, that's all VW knew how to build. They also had a removable rear seat for extra cargo space.

Now, in your Oct. 2003 issue, the article “What's Hot, Segment-Busters” (see p.48) again incorrectly states, “…Chrysler — which lays claim…with the invention of the minivan in 1983.” I would hope this misnomer could be cleared up, especially at the industry's leading publication.
Jim Otterbein
Senior Product Design Engineer
R.E. Phelon Company Inc.
Aiken, SC

Editor's Note: The term “minivan” was coined to describe a small car-based family van that could fit in a garage. That translated into Chrysler's K-car-based front-drive design. Hence the word “mini.”

Lots of car makers — besides VW — have made smaller rear-drive vans that were used to haul people and kids. But they never were that popular, in large part because they couldn't be parked in a garage, and they didn't drive like a car.

Wary of Big 3 Tech

I have a comment on Jerry Flint's article in your October 2003 issue regarding Detroit selling obsolete products while the Japanese manufacturers put only their best on the road (see p.72).

As a former Ford engineer and loyal driver of Ford vehicles, it is disappointing to see the quality problems that occur with products that should be mature and have excellent quality. I currently drive a 1998 Windstar with the 3.8L V-6 engine that has had its share of problems over the years. Twice the vehicle left my wife and family standing on the roadside due to quality issues.

Then the head gasket failed at 80,000 miles (129,000 km) on a vehicle that had all the required maintenance outlined in the owner's manual. It is clear to me that this gasket failed to perform to the engineering requirements for that engine due to a quality issue with the gasket, engine or both.

The automobile buying public should be wary of the new technology put on the road by the Big Three when they can't get the current technology to perform as their engineers intended.
R. Matthew Brach, PhD PE
Granger, IN

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