It seems like a lifetime ago. But for the first 12 of my 20 years as an automotive journalist, I handed out consumer advice daily as the auto writer for The Orlando Sentinel in Florida.
Thousands of times between 9 a.m. Aug. 16, 1989, and 5 p.m. Jan. 2, 2001, I was blasted by angry consumers who had bought something from General Motors, Ford Motor Co. or Chrysler. It usually happened after I had written a positive review of a Detroit 3 vehicle.
I would always tell a surly caller or e-mailer something like: “You should give the Big 3 another chance. They aren't making Oldsmobile diesels, Ford Tempos and Chrysler K cars anymore. The technology is all new. It's much better.”
Now I am in the position of having to take my own advice, and I don't think I am going to do it.
Here's why: I bought a new Ford Mustang in December 2004, one of the first of the current Mustangs built at the Ford-Mazda plant in Flat Rock, Mich. I'm a sucker for a good-looking car, and I get nostalgic over cars I used to own. The 2005 Mustang was a perfect blend of a 1966 Mustang fastback and a 1967 Mustang GTA that I owned and restored in the 1980s. So, when I saw the new Mustang, I had to have one.
Sadly, though, it hasn't been a very good car — not for me and certainly not for Ford. Because of frequent and expensive warranty claims, Ford probably hasn't made a nickel on the car.