Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Reno Automobile Museum, Part 2
The cars above are just beautiful. Chrysler and Mercedes seemed to have the best designs. The Ford Edsel didn't look that bad--certainly not bad enough to be associated with failure. One advertising campaign was especially interesting--to demonstrate the toughness of a car, a company drove it off a cliff, and even after it bounced several times on rocks, it was still drivable. The older cars all looked heavier and larger than modern cars.
What stuck out the most was the car companies' willingness to experiment with designs and engineering (I saw a V-16 engine). Today, I like to say, without pleasure, that Ford and GM are slowly going bankrupt. GM is probably worth nothing without GMAC, its car loan unit. In fact, GM is probably closer to a bank than a car company. Meanwhile, Toyota innovates with hybrids and other models and does a better job of managing production and employee costs. It's sad to see the state of American car companies today and compare them with how robust they were back in the day. Part of me thinks that Kirk Kerkorian isn't buying Ford shares because he thinks there's an imminent turnaround--he's buying a large minority stake out of pure nostalgia.