Sunday, May 9, 2010

The American Girl

General Motors, Ford, Toyota...

These days it seems that companies like these have a lot in common with Maybelline, Prada, Playboy, and Hooters. While GM and Toyota mass produce their automobiles on the assembly line, Maybelline, Playboy and other companies are just another part of the mass production of that greatest product of all...

The American Girl.

I'm a saavy buyer. And I guess that's why I'm single. I bought a model off the showroom floor a while back but she was recalled. Defective I guess.

I've tried my luck with both domestic as well as foreign models. Sometimes there is a real difference. It's not just the paint job either. For instance, the Russian make was solid and practical in many ways. But she was demanding. Overall, I think the Lebanese model was certainly the most dependable...for me at least. The Czech was my showroom girl. Stunning to be sure. But the handling was a mess.

The American make is sporty this year. Lots of clean lines, swell shapes and sexy curves. She comes with a dizzying array of newfangled buttons to push. You really have to know what you are doing. I just cannot tell you how many times that I have pushed the wrong button.

The 2010 American is available in all colors, shapes and sizes and is made to suit nearly every preference. However, the 'Factory' has standardized most models. While it is possible to upgrade your girl in many ways...it isnt always affordable on a budget. Buyer beware.

At any rate, you might want to think about upgrading what's under the hood before you even consider enhancing your girl's visual appeal. It's all about the comfort.

What's rolling off the line today is a consumer. There are few things in your garage that will ever, ever cost you more. The drivetrain is independent without any real reason. It's dodgy at best on a smooth surface...but if the terrain gets rough you'll find yourself fighting at the wheel. The safety features seem to go off when they arent supposed to. The 'Factory' will insist you did something wrong yourself...but I think this year is just twitchy.

As far as dependability goes...you'd be better off with a foreign make. The American isnt built to last. You might get a few good years out of her, but even that will only come with almost daily maintenance. Mileage matters to everyone it seems, but to the Factory. I have seen a few older models go the distance. But I think the last few years have been a tipping point.

Unfortunately, many of us are forced to shop in the 'Used' category. And if this model has been off the line for even one year...then she undoubtedly falls into this category. The biggest problem with a used model is that 'ex' in the engine. No matter how many times you think you might have changed the oil or replaced the gaskets...the ex is always back. Besides the ex, you'll likely find the array of other odds and ends that are typical of the used models. They almost always seem to veer to the right or to the left so you'll find yourself wildly countersteering. A lot depends on their previous owner. And that's usually a bigger problem than you really want to deal with.

I think the Factory has gotten shady. It lacks a necessary oversight committee. It isnt that the parts to get it right arent there from the very beginning. It's just that somewhere along the assembly line, everyone wants to scrap what originally worked in favor of something contrived over the years that fits more perfectly into someone's pocketbook. So the American Girl is molded and shaped into something that the Factory wants. She is designed to sell right off the line...to get snatched up out of the showroom right off the bat. But that's where all of the energy and the design time was placed in most cases.

Poor workmanship builds the product from the outside in.

In the end the Factory is to blame. But we as consumers are just as culpable. After all, year after year we keep buying. And we keep insisting on sleeker, faster, sexier in favor of mileage, comfort and dependability.

It's all too much anymore. I'm just gonna take the bus.


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