Crain and Cook agree on 'brand'
I retired 14 years ago after 37 years in the auto business, and I have watched from afar the concentration and focus on 'brands.'
Keith Crain's April 12 column, headlined 'They still don't get it,' reinforced my long-held belief about what most of the world has always understood as a 'brand.'
Thanks for the verification.
ROBERT E. COOK
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
The writer was general sales manager for Chevrolet Motor Division.
Auctions are not for your customers
I think it's time to address a problem that I consider out of control - dealers who take their retail buyers to auto auctions. I've been in retailing 29 years, and I see a big increase in that practice. I recognized three 'civilians' at a recent auction in Kansas City, Mo.
You really cannot blame those people. They just want to buy a car at wholesale without getting a dealer's license. I blame the dealers who bring them in.
Some auctions have made halfhearted attempts to control the problem. They make rules, but they don't enforce them. I can see some real potential problems:
It creates a false market and inflates vehicle values.
It's dangerous. Have you ever seen anyone hit by a car at an auction? What if it were your retail buyer?
Suppose your customer has a friend who cannot get a dealer to take him to an auction. Could that be grounds to open the auctions to the public through legal action? Can you imagine what we would have to pay for cars then? Would the auctions then become retailers and have to warrant all sales?
Did you ever purchase a vehicle at an auction that did not need some kind of repair or service? Do you think you are free from product liability just because your customer bought the car at an auction you took him to?
The 'program sales' do a very good job of keeping out nondealers. Why can't the auctions copy their practices? Admit only persons who have a 'buyer's badge.' And make sure they have a license before they get a badge.
Good Motors Inc.
A long run-around for Lincoln owner
Last September, you published my letter about the difficulty in getting an airbag cutoff switch installed.
On Jan. 26, 1998, I received authorization from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to have an on-off switch installed for the airbag in my 1998 Lincoln Town Car.
I finally found a dealer who would do the job, but he said the switch would not be available until June. June passed. I called Lincoln (non)Commitment and was told the switch would be available in a month and that I would receive a list of dealers that would install it. I called again at the end of July and was told the same thing.
I called at the end of August and was told there was nothing new, but they would let me know when the switch was available.
When the 1999 model was introduced, I purchased my 10th Lincoln Town Car. I called Lincoln about the switch because I have to get a new authorization for my 1999 model. Lincoln referred me to my selling dealer. I called him, and he told me he was waiting for a switch for another customer. He said he would call Lincoln and let me know the status of the switch. The dealer called me back and said the switch would be available in two months.
I think the name Lincoln Commitment should be changed to Lincoln Non-Commitment.
MORRIS J. BREGMAN
The writer is retired. He owned Toyota Village in Clarksville, Md.
Helping folks forget the awful '80s
I enjoyed Keith Crain's Feb. 22 column, 'Not the real world?'
Don't be amazed at the popularity of auto events that have nothing to do with the new-car business. The cars built in the late 1970s and most of the 1980s ended enthusiasm for new cars. Old-car, rod and vintage racing kept the flame lit.
Smart auto companies such as Chrysler that sponsored events like vintage racing in Monterey, Calif., and concours events got back in contact with the people. They spent their money, and they showed their concept cars and new products. It was much more effective than the megabuck, one-day ads in The New York Times.
I appreciate their presence, and I hope DaimlerChrysler is wise enough to continue to support those events.
Ford also is starting to show concepts and displays, like the one at the 50th Grand National at San Francisco this year. As Ford should! The 1932 Ford is the hot rod, no matter what the drivetrain. Chrysler is wiser and more profitable because of its support of those events. Ford will be, too.
Some day, people will forget those horrible late 1970s and 1980s cars.
Sponsoring these events will bring the enthusiasm back to the new-car business.
St. Helena, Calif.
Forget Volvo; Ford needs Class 8
Why Ford bought Volvo, I'll never know. Volvo has nothing to offer in Ford's lineup.
I believe Ford made a grave mistake in selling its Class 8 truck business. Those big trucks were traveling billboards with half a billion a year in advertising and prestige.
Ford is no longer a full-line manufacturer. It is going down the same road as Chrysler and General Motors.
With the demise of the railroads, demand for Class 8 trucks is high. Sales were up 33.3 percent for February and 31.1 percent for the year.
JAY A. ARCHER
The writer is a retired locomotive engineer.
Olds cites niche for new Aurora
I would like to compliment Automotive News and Jim Dunne for an excellent spy photo of the next-generation Aurora (March 29), but I would like to correct some misinformation.
The Aurora is not a replacement for the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight.
In 1994, Oldsmobile made a bold statement about its future with the launch of the Aurora. As our flagship vehicle, it has brought new and different customers into Oldsmobile dealer showrooms.
The new Aurora will continue as Oldsmobile's flagship and has everything you would expect in an import luxury sedan. It will reach a broader base of customers with the same level of individuality and quality that made the original Aurora stand out.
Aurora Brand Manager
Rx for safety:
Drop the phone
I wholeheartedly agree with John Teahen's March 29 column about driving and cell phones.
My parents and grandma were involved in a serious collision involving a cell phone the same day that country singer George Jones (mentioned in the column) was injured, and it occurred on the same road, Highway 96, in Tennessee. Jones lives in Tennessee, and is still in and out of Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.
My mother was the only one who was seriously hurt in the accident, but I am glad to say that she is doing better.
I appreciate your column, and I hope many people will take your words into consideration before they pick up their phone while driving.
The writer is a college student.