Home-grown or foreign, talent is talent

If you can tell us the difference between European and U.S. companies, that would be a SUPER DUPER article. Why is a man from Japan or Germany (see Editorial, WAW — Jan. ’01, p.11) a better pick than a man from Michigan? It can't be due to place of birth. No one really wants to read an article of slams, especially us engineers in the U.S. automotive industry. If you present a problem, it is a good engineering practice to offer a few solutions and I would hope your solution is not to just hire a non-U.S. person.
Lynn Azar
Former Ford employee

Editor's note: Our point wasn't to slam anyone, only to point out that if you want to be world class, you have to search the world for talent, not just your own backyard. For instance, Montreal once had the greatest hockey dynasty in the world. Now many feel that it has a bad team because for too long it resisted recruiting players from outside Quebec and Canada.

I disagree with your statement that the Detroit automakers need to hire foreign personnel to enhance their products. What they do need to copy is to have engineers running the companies like Europe and Japan do. I would like to add a message to Mr. Smith and Mr. Wagoner of General Motors: On learning that you are purchasing 90,000 engines from Honda, I suggest you have them make the entire car for you, then just stamp General Motors on the finished product. That's the problem with having non-technical executives running automobile companies: they take no pride in the machinery it takes to create a car.
Name withheld

Sexy styling costs the same as bland stuff

Drew Winter remarked on how he had called the new Cadillac “butt ugly,” only to see sales rise by 16.5% in 2000. Throughout the Feb '01 issue (see WAW — Feb. '01, p.7), styling and its “re-emergence” were the hot issues. It seems U.S. carmakers have finally realized that the cars they design look woeful. The new Cadillac DeVille looks good. However, it is almost alone in a sea of bland roundness. Honda and Toyota may not set the pulses racing, but they look better than anything Detroit is churning out, with two exceptions: the Oldsmobile Alero and Dodge Stratus. Previous Cadillacs and their ilk (Crown Victoria, Caprice, etc.) are among the most hideous cars ever produced, along with the European Ford Scorpio. Remember: “Sexy styling doesn't cost any more than the bland stuff.” The French and Italians have been producing good looking cars for years, that haven't been the best engineered ever, but they have sold in droves, e.g. Peugeot 306, 406. So congrats to Cadillac for coming up with an attractive design.
D. O'Flynn
Mechanical Design Engineer

Place the blame where it belongs

Enough already! Quit glorifying the dearly departed Chrysler management team. Who do you think put Chrysler in the mess they're in today? New product is not created overnight. The vehicles and strategies that Chrysler is currently struggling with were put in place three to four years ago by the guys you keep deifying. Francois Castaing, John Miller, Chris Theodore and the rest of the carpetbaggers from AMC diluted the technical talent by distributing it among the four platform teams they created. The result was the poor quality and high costs Chrysler suffers from today.

The only thing these guys excelled at was taking credit for Tom Gale's industry-leading styling. They kept telling the press how good they were. What really kept Chrysler on top was Gale's designs, the strong economy and weak competition, especially from GM. When the Germans couldn't be conned, the AMC crowd either bailed out or was pushed out. We will miss the real heroes like Gale, Tom Stallkamp and Dennis Pawley. But to the ex-AMC crowd, we can only say “Good riddance.”
Ben Goralski
Bloomfield Hills, MI

Olds didn't have to go

Dave Smith hit the nail on the head with regards to the Cutlass nameplate (see WAW — Jan. '01, p.74). It brings back fond memories. And I can't think about the Olds name without remembering our family's 1968 Vista Cruiser. What a car. Maybe if they had kept building our fathers' Oldsmobiles, things would be different. Thanks again for a great article.
Bill Blades
CAD Designer
Fenton, MI

Jerry irks 'em

I'm neither a Chrysler employee nor even employed in the auto industry, but I am appalled by the vitriolic column by Jerry Flint (see WAW — Jan. '01, p. 25). In decades of reading business papers, magazines, etc., I have never seen such a vicious attack on a corporation — it was like providing instructions to mad men wishing to make bombs to blow up buildings.

This was totally irresponsible journalism and both he and you (for allowing such trash to be released) deserve to be unceremoniously fired. I honestly cannot believe what I read; it was truly shameful, juvenile and even un-American.
Charles Bern
Pebble Beach, CA

Jerry intrigues 'em

My grandfather once pounded his fist on the kitchen table and said “For my money, nothing beats a Chevy!” He has always driven a Caprice (currently a '94 wagon). Imagine, people being loyal to a brand just because they believe in it! That attitude alone is worth GM exploring Jerry Flint's idea (see WAW — Feb. '01, p. 23) to revive Chevrolet's car line.
Adam Coolich
Quality Manager
LDM Technologies Inc.
Clarkston, MI

Give credit where due

I enjoyed the recent article titled “Searching for Style” (see WAW — Feb. '01, p.34). I am 100% behind the retro movement. However, it left me with the impression the '49 Ford is given credit for the introduction of “slab side” styling. Let us not forget the offerings by Studebaker and Kaiser/Frazer two years earlier. We should remember not all innovation came from the “Big Three” in our automotive history.
Mike Saltsgaver
Airtex Products
Fairfield, IL

What a difference 5 seconds makes

You describe the Lexus SC430 convertible as taking a “mere” 25 seconds to open (see WAW — Feb. '01, p.73). Two pages later, the Opel Astra's convertible top is described as taking a “rather tedious” 30 seconds.

Apparently speed is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of writers, this may be a problem. If I was cynical, I'd accuse you guys of a bias toward Toyota over GM, or luxury cars over economy cars. But this is a pretty small piece of data to use for that sweeping a judgment.

Other than minor slip-ups like this, keep up the good work. I get many automotive magazines, and yours is the only one that always gets put on top of the pile (the others get read chronologically).
Dudley Smith
GM - Lansing Car Assembly
Quality Engineering