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How long do automotive sins live on?

Richard Truett has touched a nerve.

In a Web column Wednesday, “Toxic Web comments on Detroit 3: Nobody benefits,” Truett, a technology reporter for Automotive News, talks about automotive people in Detroit that he knows. He admires their dedication and skill.

It’s a very personal account. But this is hardly a typical Detroit-native perspective. Truett moved to Detroit seven years ago from Florida.

Truett sees Detroit making competitive models now and, after looking at negative comments about the Detroit 3 all over the Web, wonders when Detroit will be forgiven for past sins, such as the 1970s Chevrolet Vega.

Our community responded strongly.

“So they're your friends and you like them. That doesn't mean they're doing a good job,” says Michael.

Paul says Truett is part of the problem. “Where are the stories about the gas guzzlers being sold by Toyota, Nissan, Lexus, and Infiniti?” he asks.

AutoVeteran notes that Japanese automakers were rueful 10 years ago that they had failed to capitalize on the move to big trucks and SUVs. But “now that the market has changed, their dumb luck is looking like ‘brilliant strategy,’” he says.

Well, I can’t say that Toyota and Nissan avoided this problem. Check out sales of the Toyota Tundra and the Nissan Titan. That’s a big ouch.

In defense of Detroit, Thomas says “The people in Japan drive Japanese cars, the Germans [buy] German-built cars, but in the USA folks have little pride and brag about their new Hyundai or Toyota.”

The_Rocker has worked for import brands in California before moving to Detroit 8 years ago and sees both sides.

“I'm conflicted, really, because as much as I see the very real reasons why the Japanese and Europeans have assumed the mantle of de facto industry leadership, I also see that the domestics are very capable of not just innovating but executing world-class products.” But The_Rocker worries that flat sales in North America will lead global automakers to shift engineering and design resources from Detroit to international growth markets.

Others argue that forgiveness for a lemon of a car takes a very long time.

Very long.

On this, I certainly can agree. Recently, when having to buy two cars after my wife and I moved back to our native Detroit (oh, yeah, I’m a Detroit boy and third-generation auto biz), I discovered that ancient history still affected my consideration list.

No Chevy (ex-1971 Vega owner). No Toyota (Cressida engine oil gasket and transmission).

Now, I came from a GM family and married into a Chrysler family. I can manage to consider a GM car. But 35 years after dumping my truly dreadful Vega, I can admire a Chevy but I just can't buy one. I was surprised at the strength of my reaction.

That may not be the answer my colleague Truett was hoping for, but I’m probably not alone.

But Detroit 3 please note: our Texas-based son owns a Chevy. And a Buick.

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