Commenter Of The Day: Better Late Than Never Edition

Illustration for article titled Commenter Of The Day: Better Late Than Never Edition

Yeah, COTD is a little late today. Sue us. Better late than never, right? In this case that term actually works because we still get to enjoy the brilliance from the day together. If we were carrying a kidney transplant and you were dead... well... you'd be dead. Not better. Our favorite use of that phrase is in Ghostbusters II, when the Titanic arrives in New York and ghost passengers start unloading. Cheech Marin, playing a harbormaster for some reason, turns to another guy and says "Better late than never." Hilarious. And appropriate, because the reason why COTD is late has to do with Dan Akroyd. Sort of. But nothing about that until next week.

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In today's post chronicling the second Malaise Era there were many of you who do not believe we are there, and Uncle Bo reps them well:

This is not Malaise II - Return of the Granada. The choices we have today are the best ever, even better than the magical (allegedly) 50's and 60's. There's something for everyone nowadays except for the neo-Luddites, and they're not buying new cars anyway so who cares.

Where is the Dodge Aspen, the Triumph TR-8, the Fiat Brava, the Chevette diesel of Malaise Part Deux?
Who exactly is comparing their cars to a Mercedes Benz (well, besides Hyundai, those silly corrupt buy-your-way-outta-prison Koreans)?
How many brands promote rich Corinthian leather or a remote fuel filler door release or a Chronometer?

I distinctly remember 1978 and my folk's Dodge Aspen wagon. I remember how good my mom was at restarting the POS in the middle of a turn when the engine invariably stalled and she lost power steering. I remember the carb icing regularly on our Ford E150 conversion van when we went on family skiing trip to Mammoth Mtn. 30 years ago cars were universally craptastic. Today, Gen Y'ers clog the intarwebs with incessant whining of poor Bluetooth connectivity and lousy dealer service when they're told the factory will not cover a replacement clutch ruined by their fast and furious street racing.

It's not Malaise Again. Its a generation just now realizing life is not free WIFI, illegal music downloads, free condoms, cheap gas, pirated movies, easy sex and all the credit cards you can apply for. And their parents? Don't get me started, they're worse!

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Fair point. Except remember, the malaise is only beginning.

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DISCUSSION

The malaise era was a result of many factors: inflation, recession, rising unemployment, and to cap it off the oil embargo. Not to mention still recovering from the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassinations, Nixon and his impeachment. Malaise flowed through this country like water down the Columbia River. The cars sucked. My HS graduation class was 1978. My parents and all my friends' parents were driving pintos, Vegas, Mustang IIs. When my father bought a Toyota Corona he was harassed relentlessly until he got rid of it. I was so put off by the offerings of the US auto manufacturers that I haven't bought an American made car since I sold my 1970 Chevy Nova back in the 80s.

The cars are much better now than they were back then. What I saw back then was the US automakers over-confident and totally unprepared for a public that demanded fuel efficient reliable affordable cars; they where caught with their pants down. These days the cars are much more reliable, but again they seemed to think people would continue to buy road tanks even if it cost $600 to $1000 a month in fuel alone to operate them. I don't think they'll do as poorly as they did last time. The cars will be much better (they'll have to be).

Now days I feel we are entering a new malaise era but this is a global malaise. I think we're better prepared to deal with it this time around. It should prove to be interesting. The last decade has produced some of the best cars ever to roll on public roads. I'm interested to see what happens over the next decade.