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.



Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

Don’t Chrys ler for me Detroit. Forza Italia.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

While i am happy to hear about your experience with the PT, I cannot be as nostalgic.

Chrysler totally botched the PT cruiser. When it first came out, I compared to a Mazda Protege5, and I got the Mazda. This is because while the PT had retro styling, it doesn’t back it up. Handling is mediocre, engine choices/power were non-existent (until the turbo but that was also poorly executed), reliability was fair, and the mileage was nothing exceptional, especially when compared to competing domestics & imports.

This case is Chrysler/Dodge in a nutshell. Except for the Dodge trucks, minivans, and the hemi’s, Chrysler has made terrible vehicles for a long time. They would wrap it in great styling, but they would always fall way short.

My suggestion to you Richard, ditch the PT and get a Mazda3, you will thank me for it.

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

shouldn’t the condolences be to Daimler who lost money hand over foot with this company. 27 billion paid, losses of around 3-4 billion a year from Daimler’s bottom line, and receiving a mere 8 billion for the company, as well as having to pay 700 million to give away the additional 19.9 percent stake. Merger of equals my foot.

Posted by Justin Moore | Report as abusive

The PT was a piece of junk. Terrible interior, weak powerplants, even with the turbo option. Poor handling and mediocre gas mileage. Dodge trucks have been recall-laden pieces of junk as well until the latest edition of the Ram, they were 4th or 5th in the 1/2 ton truck category. The only things that Chrysler made that were well-designed were the : Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger/Challenger, and the Viper. The Plymouth Prowler would still be a great car if they upper the power a bit. The bankruptcy will hopefully help them and GM (even worse than chrysler) get out of the ridiculous contracts with the UAW and others to try and make a profit.

Posted by JP | Report as abusive

All I can say is, so long. I don’t feel bad for any of the automakers. With their extremely overpaid employees and officials, and their ridiculous prices for a car or truck, you can’t say they did’nt have it coming.

Posted by RD Low | Report as abusive

I honestly do not feel any sort of sadness for any dealership closing down. For many years, auto dealerships have ripped poor average people out of their pockets by over hiking MSRP on cars.

I do sincerely hope that both good President Obama and Congress will do more to make sure that both the car industry and those car dealerships will not steal from poor average American whom works so hard to earn their dollar. It is time to STAND for the auto industry both (makers and dealerships) and fine them for the over hike on MSRP.

Posted by Pele | Report as abusive
  • 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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