Driven To The Brink: Art Of The Automobile Also At Stake In Big 3 Crisis

mustangI’m a car guy.  They’re much more to me than just transportation … they are freedom, inspiration, mechanical alchemy and art.  The shape, the lines, the power, the fit and finish … when these elements come together for me it’s like hearing a great rock song, or seeing a terrific piece of live theater, or viewing an amazing painting.  It’s sculpture meets asphalt, and you get to set it all in motion.

That’s why the current crisis in the U.S. auto industry is such a bummer for me … I feel the era of the dream machine slipping away.  Now my qualifications for a hot car may be a lot different than yours.  I’m a huge fan of the American muscle car … Mustang Cobra GT, Corvette, the revival of the Dodge Challenger.  These beasts are for the dragon riders, willing to give up comfort and ease for the pure adrenaline rush of perfectly timed horsepower.

dodge-challengerYou’re Steve McQueen in “Bullitt” … Barry Newman in “Vanishing Point” … heck, you’re Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit” … you’re on the road, wrapped in American made heavy metal.  Such a glorious waste of fossil fuel.

Now love of these cars doesn’t always translate to ownership.  Have you ever tried to pilot a rear-wheel drive V-8 through a New England winter?  Two words … not fun!  Do I miss my ’95 Mustang GT on hot, summer days?  More than you’ll ever know.  During January snow storms?  Not so much.

corvetteStill, it’s the idea that they’re out there … roaming the highways like a phantom T-Rex that’s a comfort to me.  That’s why the current meltdown in Detroit is so troubling.  I know GM and Chrysler have made some horrible business decisions over the years, but I still want them to survive.  That’s because the true heart of the industry still beats in the muscle car divisions of those companies.  Not the most important … not the most profitable … but a piece of living history worth preserving.

Did you see the article in “The Boston Globe” Monday about Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust going to bat for the old school majors?  Classics, whether Greek or four on the floor, matter.

Now that Rick Wagoner has gotten the boot at GM … do you think Drew could do a little moonlighting in Detroit?


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