Ben Stein, noted author of the definitive Quaalude Downward Spiral book, has penned a classic "Detroit don't build 'em like they useta" diatribe for the business section of yesterday's Gray Lady. And, while he does have a point about the incredible rise in the Suck Factor of American-made cars starting in the early 70s, we always roll our eyes a bit when we hear how well-built 50s Detroit iron was. For the most part, those cars lasted less than 70K miles, and the only reason they seemed well-built was that the bean counters hadn't figured out all the angles on corner-cutting (thus, hardware that got a lot of usage, such as switches and door hardware were made of bulkier metal and felt solid). Still, Stein's dead-on with his point that Detroit's inability to get the fit-and-finish thing right has cost them dearly.
The Dream That Once Was Detroit [New York Times]
Y'ever Notice How American Cars Suck?: Andy Rooney Skewers American Carmakers [internal]