TO THE EDITOR:
Ford has been paying lip service to the small-car market in the U.S. for decades. The Pinto was an explosive charge just waiting to be rear-ended. All it needed was a $5 part, and the accountants and lawyers knew it when they were running the numbers.
The first Ford Escort was to be the “World Car,” except it only shared a few parts with its much better European counterpart. The first Focuses had many different problems. Even newer-generation Focus and Fiesta had a dual-clutch transmission that provoked lawsuits.
Ford executives have forgotten something: A new car is a milestone. It is one of the first steps up the ladder of success. It is also an opportunity. It is the first interaction between a customer and a dealer.
How the manufacturer and dealer interact with this person will determine whether he or she stays with the brand or goes to other automakers that have respect for quality, inexpensive small cars.
The irony is that Henry Ford built his fortune on a simple, inexpensive vehicle. It was called the Model T.
Truett also made a good point: Four-door hatchbacks are one of the most versatile body styles. They are easy to load and roomy.
Try getting luggage into a midsize sedan — they have mail slots for trunk lids.
CHARLES WININGHAM, Alton, Ill. The writer is an archivist for Lambda Car Club International’s newsletter, The Driveshaft.