Head In A Bucket

The column by Byron Pope about Ford's Freeman Thomas ( see WAW — Dec. '06, p.9) really shows how lame his thinking is on the small-car market. While his European background and reasoning seem correct, he still has his head in a bucket regarding the future of small cars in America.

Europeans rarely have more than one car, while U.S. families have three or four. The American college student, commuter, woman shopper and first-time buyer with a small budget but big desires will welcome smaller cars. Very few young drivers want a used car or dad's hand-me-down.

On my visits to Europe, Smart cars are everywhere, serving the needs of local drivers. They will succeed in the U.S., as did the VW Beetle, for the same reasons. I owned one while my father drove his V-8 Land Cruiser and pickup.

Trust me, a small, efficient car, as one of a fleet of bigger U.S. family autos, will be accepted. If Mr. Thomas' ideology prevails, I can predict Ford will be trying to catch up again.
Dominic Marucci
Colmar, PA

Engines Overlooked

I liked a lot of your picks for 10 Best Engines this year ( see WAW — Jan. '07, pp.22). I found your nominee list to be well thought out. However, I must question why a few were left off.

Honda's K20 4-cyl. in the Civic Si, making 98.5 hp per liter, is not something you seein most vehicles, not to mention an 8,000-rpm red line. And that 197 hp comes from a 2.0L mill that is naturally aspirated.

The Subaru 2.5L engine found in the WRX STI, turning out 293 hp, is impressive. There are some great engines on your list, no doubt. But not one of them makes 117.2 hp perliter. The Mazdaspeed3 comes close. Still, the Subaru is more than a second faster to 60 mph (97 km/h).

It's true these may not be the most “mainstream engines from high-volume vehicles,” but I still think they should have had a closer look. Besides, I'll bet Honda sells more Civic Si's than Mercedes sells E320's with the new Bluetec diesel (although, I admit, I love that new 3L diesel.)

I live in the Motor City and grew up in a “GM-only” family, so I find it a bit odd to cheer for two engines from foreign auto makers. But I believe they are worthy of recognition.
Bret Darling
Orion, MI

Editor's note: For 10 Best Engines, Ward's editors evaluate all new or extensively modified engines at the start of the model year, plus the 10 winners from the prior year. The WRX STI made the 10 Best Engines list when it was new in 2004, but it lost its spot in 2005, in part because of some refinement issues. The Civic Si engine was nominated when it was new in 2006 and received high marks in many areas but it did not quite make the cut. Until either engine receives significant upgrades, neither will be part of 10 Best Engines evaluations.

Not Fond of Fraser

I was both amused and depressed to read the Doug Fraser article ( see WAW — Jan. '07, pp.18). The UAW is no friend of the auto industry or the consumer, and this article yet again proves it.

I take issue with the part of the story that looks at GM's construction of the Poletown plant in the 1980s, requiring a large section of Detroit and neighboring Hamtramck to be cleared.

“If you're talking about maximizing profits, as the Japanese do, GM never would have done that,” Fraser says in the article. “A greenfield site would've been much better for many reasons.” He goes on to say, “It's a matter of attitude and social responsibility.”

Guess what, Mr. Fraser. Had GM made the proper business decisions rather than the “socially responsible” ones, it would be in a much better position today.

Had the Big Three been focusing on that most evil of concepts — maximizing profits — then your workers would not be facing cutbacks, layoffs and the other hardships they face today. The free market works, if you just let it.
Dave Hardy
Atlanta, GA

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