Richard Baum

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Condolences for Chrysler

April 30, 2009

When I moved to North America in 2004, I knew immediately what car I wanted to own: a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Its retro-design captured the romance of the automobile in a uniquely American way, giving it character that I felt was missing from so many modern cars.

It’s a small, fuel-efficient car that combines classic design aesthetics with today’s environmental priorities. But its harkening to a golden age is also a statement on the cultural significance of the auto industry in the U.S., where writers from Jack Kerouac to Bruce Springsteen have long linked the freedom of the road with the freedom of the nation.

So Chrysler’s bankruptcy has a symbolism that resonates beyond the day’s headlines. As a Briton, I’m spared any personal nationalistic pain from a Chrysler bankruptcy (I had my share growing up during the embarrassing decline of my country’s car industry.) But I couldn’t help feeling that my gold-colored Cruiser looked a little sadder when I locked its doors last night. So I’m opening a book of condolences for anyone who wants to share their memories about Chrysler, or the American automobile in general. Your comments are welcome.

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  • About Richard

    "General Manager for Reuters News in New York and Canada. Previously editor for Consumer Media. I've worked in India, Singapore and Canada and am currently based in New York. I joined Reuters in my hometown of London in 1998."
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