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GM Quits Europe

GM is selling their Opel division based in Germany to the French Citroen-Peugeot Group (PSA), thereby departing the continent since they stopped making cars in Britain some time back. They claim they will be exporting cars to Europe from elsewhere, probably Korea, Mexico and China. Not sure if Europeans will accept these cars readily.

For better or worse, this will make PSA the second-biggest car maker in Europe, right behind VW.

Ahh, wrong Sir. Opel makes their right hand drive models in England under the name of Vauxhall (talk about conservatism), but they are also included in the sale.

It doesn’t come as a big shock to me. If I recall, correctly…

Back in the day, in the neighborhood where I grew up, a kid, a friend I went to school with, lived 2 houses from me. His dad, a Canadian American, worked in some capacity, for GM, often driving home different new GM vehicles (some not in full production and some not available here).

Since he knew I was into cars, he asked me to drive a Vauxhall he had brought home to get my impression. I don’t recall much about that, but I believe it was used as an inspiration for the new Chevette.

Little cars were starting to take a bite of the auto market in the U.S. and GM wanted in with something.

My friend’s brother bought a new Chevette when they first hit the market. I went on a road trip with it. It was a nice little car.

However, GM screwed up, in my opinion. It was winter and very bad weather conditions. GM had launched a little RWD car into a market of little FWD cars! It was not good in poor traction conditions (think AMC Gremlin).

Little cars went to FWD because they were little cars. How’d GM miss that?

You have a different standard for NICE then I do. The Chevette was an extremely unreliable and cheap car. The back seat was optional.

GM’s first small car to compete in that arena was the Vega. Again an extremely unreliable cheap car. There were several studies on this car over the years. And the basic conclusion was that if GM had actually built a decent Vega then they could have stopped (or slowed down) Toyota/Nissan and Honda from getting a strong foothold in the US.

The Chevette was launched in 1976 and at that time most of the compacts were still RWD. Even Toyota vehicles back then were RWD. The Corolla changed to FWD in the early 80’s. Chevette stayed RWD.

RWD or FWD had NOTHING to do with why GM/Ford and Chryco was getting their butt kicked. Reliability was by far the biggest factor. It was more reliable then the Vega it replaced, but couldn’t hold up against Toyota or Honda or even Datsun at the time. The only advantage the Big-3(or 4) had back then was they didn’t rust our nearly was bad as Toyota/Nissan or Honda. But if you lived in the south then that wasn’t an issue.

Ha, Ha! Please read carefully. I’m speaking in terms of my 1976 standard for NICE, as I recall it ( My story begins: If I recall, correctly… Back in the day…)

The car that I compared the new Chevette with was my well-worn 40 h.p. 1964 Sea Blue Volkswagen Type 1 bug!

Mike, my standards today have obviously evolved with time.

My point was that other manufacturers (Toyota and Honda) were making much more reliable comparable vehicles then the Chevette.

GM really screwed up back then. I owned a couple Vega’s. Even though the Vega was very unreliable, I really liked that car. If GM built a quality car they could really have done damage to Japanese vehicles coming into the US market at the time. But there were a slew of screw-ups that prevented that from happening.

The Japanese were selling their cars for what it cost them to make them back then to build market share. The US companies cared about nothing but this quarters profits which is one of the reasons why they could not compete with the Japanese. The other is that the American car companies had no experience designing small cars so they either took large car designs and shrunk them or took their existing cars and cut part of them off (Gremlin).

I agree with some of that. But instead of trying to figure out the problem and adapt…they kept going as if there wasn’t a problem. They were too slow to change. And then there’s GM problem with GM finance. They were making more money financing vehicles then building them, so that’s where their efforts went.

On my last trip to England I rented a “Vauxhall”, which is really an Opel. At the hotel I stayed at I met a local car dealer who explained to me why there was no label or plaque anywhere on the car to show where it was made. He told me it was an Opel specially made for the UK market and the etching on the glass saying “Sekurit” (safety glass) was the only indicator that this was a German car in disguise. He told me this was to protect British pride and sensibilities.

If the car had been made in England it would have proudly announced that fact!!!

None of the Detroit 3 built good small cars, and it took them all quite a while to do so. IMO, Chrysler has never built a good small car. Ford was the first to do so and finally GM is doing it. The Sonic and Cruze are both well regarded small cars.

That’s true. My '76 Corolla was RWD. It was a fantastic car, as reliable as the day is long. And comfortable and easy to drive. The only reason I traded it in '82 was due to “growing family syndrome”.

Had one of those too. It was the transition from that to the Corolla that opened my eyes to how dramatically more reliable and better quality the Toyotas were.

A agree with that statement emphatically.

Mike, again I was going from my experience and recollection.

I know nothing about Japanese cars of the days to which I was referring.

In 1975 I was a full-time college student and working full-time at a Volkswagen dealer as a Service Writer. VW, traditionally had the drive wheels where the engine was located, in the back (not bad).

I drove brand new 1975 FWD OHC 1500cc VW Rabbits, regularly. Those little babies hauled Axx, back-firing between high revving shifts of the manual trans, an absolute blast to drive! I could get the things wound up at a high rate of speed in second gear!

Our 1976 (my wife and I) Olds Toronado was a 4700 pound 2-door 455c.i. FWD.

That’s my universe that I was comparing the Chevette against. FWD looked like the direction everything was going when in 1976 GM decided to go RWD with its all new small car. I knew it was a mistake. New car, clean slate, new design, what were they thinking?

The Chevette was a warmed over Opel Kadett, a long in the tooth German and Brazilian GM model. It was rushed in to US production with minimal modification. My sister had one and it was a singularly uninspiring vehicle.

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And what small Ford are you referring to?

That makes sense and explains my experience. Thanks,

What’s a small car?

Is a Dodge Aries a small car? I owned 3 of them (2.2L) and all the mail carriers around here, drove them. They were outstanding and great in snow. I had to quit buying them a few years after they quit making them.

Dodge Spirit? Small car? I bought my Spirit (2.5L) with 7,000 miles on it, an amazing car. I only stopped buying them because they were out of production when I wore mine out after about 15 years and a quarter million miles.

so, no more opals sold here as caddies? think catera ‘the caddy that zigs’…

Yeah, just imagine the reaction of the Caddy owners who made it to Germany, only to discover that their vehicle was essentially the standard taxi cab in that country–albeit without the wall-to-wall tail lights and other useless bling that was added in order to convince naïve Americans that they were getting a “luxury” car.

Then maybe you shouldn’t be making statements as FACTS when you admit you don’t know the facts.