Which Automotive Conspiracy Theory Do You Believe?

Illustration for article titled Which Automotive Conspiracy Theory Do You Believe?

With the anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 approaching, our stablemates over at the Gawker asked which conspiracy theories about it we buy. But why limit ourselves to one flight? There's a whole world of conspiracy theories out there. Like the General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy.

Before I prattle on any further about the GM Streetcar Conspiracy, let me first say that you Jalops are definitely deserving of a full, well thought-out, well researched feature into the facts of the case and whether or not there's anything to it. You'll probably get one soon, but for the time being a cursory glance at the Streetcar Conspiracy does look a bit sketchy.


The facts, at their most basic, are thus:

  • In the mid-20th century, General Motors (along with a few other corporations with serious automotive interests, such as Firestone Tire, Mack Trucks, and Standard Oil) bought up streetcar and trolley lines in major cities across the United States
  • Shortly after their acquisition by GM and the others, the streetcar and trolley lines were shut down

In full honesty, I haven't taken a deep enough look into what exactly happened to come down firmly on one side of the issue to say that GM and its affiliates definitely conspired to shut down mass transit options in the mid-20th century in an effort to boost automobile sales, to the detriment of people everywhere.


GM and its affiliates definitely had a motive to do so.

Of course, having a motive to do something and actually doing something are often two vastly different things. If they weren't, the murder rate on planet Earth would probably soar. Many conspiracy theories, when you take more than three seconds to look at them, clearly don't make any sense at all.


And any conspiracy theory, by its very nature, assumes that large entities can be entirely competent at one thing, when in reality large entities are almost entirely incompetent at nearly everything. So there's that.


So which automotive conspiracy theories do you believe in? Strap on your finest tin foil hat, crank up the Glenn Beck, and drop it into the comments below.

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As Du Volant

Planned obsolescence.

The theory revolving around how until fairly recently, American carmakers built crappy cars that were designed to start falling apart after a set number of miles.

And it kind of makes sense. Until the 1970's the US market was dominated by American brands, for the most part foreign brands didn't have any presence here. So they'd build cars that'd fall apart before 100k miles because, hey, what else are the American buyers going to do but buy another American car? Up until that point American companies had employed some of the best engineers in the world, so there really isn't a good reason why they couldn't build a better car.

In the late 70's the Japanese stepped in with cheap, efficient, and highly reliable cars. They started eroding the American brands' market share and the American companies took a good 20+ years to catch up.