NADA: We stand for all dealers
In his Nov. 30 column, 'Who has the answer?' Keith Crain said he 'sure wouldn't want to be the National Automobile Dealers Association these days. Just whom (does NADA) represent?'
We are proud to be the National Automobile Dealers Association today. Whom do we represent? That's easy. Independent dealers, publicly held companies, factory-owned stores, factory/dealer partnerships, privately held mega dealerships, urban dealers, rural dealers, minority dealers, import dealers, domestic dealers.
Contrary to Crain's assertion, change is not new to our great industry, which has evolved steadily over the past 100 years to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. While the recent changes may have come as a surprise to Crain, we have worked continually to anticipate and respond to them. Most recently, NADA was reorganized to meet dealers' needs more forcefully and efficiently.
Our members will see accelerated government relations and industry relations efforts. We have established strong relationships with alternative distribution systems. Ron Zarrella, Wayne Huizenga and Edsel Ford II met with our board of directors this year.
Our strategies seem to be working: 1998 promises to be one of the best years ever for dealers of every type.
For 81 years, NADA has protected, defended and added value to dealer franchises and the franchise system. We always have been and always will be The Voice of the Dealer.
National Automobile Dealers Association
Holocaust historian recalls World War II
As a historian of the Holocaust, I was struck by the level of misinformation, not to say insensitivity, in James Engel's Nov. 2 letter, 'Thoughts on suits from World War II.'
He seems to believe that companies like Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and a host of others were driven by the war and dominated by the Nazis.
He also writes that the offending corporations 'were crushed, rebuilt and reformed.'
None of that is accurate.
Those corporations, as well as virtually every other German business that could benefit from the use of slave labor - Telefunken, Siemens, Hoechst, Bayer, BASF, etc. - were run by civilian businessmen, upstanding and respected members of their communities.
When the I.G. Farben trials took place in 1948, sitting in the docket were sober, highly regarded men known for their business acumen as well as for their community service.
They sat not in SA or SS uniforms but in the three-piece suits they had worn throughout the war.
In short, they denied that they were Nazis, but they could not deny that they had fully exploited the Nazi system of murderous slave labor.
Engel is quite correct that the Nazis should be held responsible for their own criminal deeds.
So, too, should those non-Nazis be held responsible for their acts of exploitation that led to murder.
He neglects the fact that the perpetrators of the Holocaust included businessmen, clergymen, teachers, students, chemists, plumbers, technicians, civil service personnel, physicians, railroad employees and on and on.
He neglects, too, that those he wants to 'let it rest' have children without grandparents and without aunts, uncles or cousins because they were murdered.
Alas, there's no one to give them a 'break.'
Professor of History
University of Michigan - Dearborn
VW's 'breadbox' was 1st minivan
Now that Chrysler and Daimler-Benz have merged, I think it would be geopolitically correct to admit that Lee Iacocca and his designers didn't originate the minivan at all. Volkswagen did.
I don't understand how that misinformation campaign survived all these years when you consider that the VW bus and Kombi were extremely popular in the United States and Europe back in the mid- or late 1960s, many years before Chrysler ostensibly introduced the concept in 1984.
If you compared my faithful 1975 red-and-white VW minivan with one of the first Chrysler models, you would find that the smaller VW had more usable interior space, was built better and had a smoother sliding door.
Unfortunately for VW, however, those marvelous gas savers attracted flower children who probably remain too stoned even to this very day to argue with Chrysler.
New Business Development
Auto Road Services Inc.
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
SEMA was just part of the show
I read with interest Keith Crain's Nov. 9 column, 'Quite an event.' A lot of the focus was on the Specialty Equipment Market Association show. They certainly hold a great show, but that is only part of the picture.
The Automotive Service Industry Association, the Automotive Parts and Accessories Association and the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association are partners with SEMA in Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. The partnership began in 1992 to bring all the major automotive aftermarket trade shows to one city for one week.
We have enjoyed tremendous success. Last year, we brought in the old National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association show, now called the International Tire Expo, to be part of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week.
It is unfortunate that little formal credit was given to the ASIA/APAA/MEMA show. We had more than 4,900 booths, including the major hard-parts players that supply both the automakers and the aftermarket.
We also had the leading tool and equipment suppliers, many players in the heavy-truck parts aftermarket and a major display of accessories for cars and light trucks.
I do appreciate Crain's coverage of the Las Vegas automotive aftermarket show. I only request that future editorial coverage considers the ASIA/APAA/MEMA show. We and SEMA make up the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week venue and consider it a partnership.
GENE A. GARDNER
Elk Grove Village, Ill.