Wrong Wheel Drive

I love YouTube, but not for the reason most people do.  I don’t care if I ever see another cat video, or guy getting hit in the nuts video again.  I love YouTube because it confirms my memories.

I remember watching this commercial back when it was on TV in the ‘80’s, and thinking, “You gotta be kidding me, who’s going to get excited about some overpriced Chevy Celebrity? Big deal.

“My dad, a Pontiac 6000”, the kid says, like he’s impressed.  Hey kid your dad’s lame and so’s his car, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Everyone knew that these cars were pieces of shit, back when they were new.  

When was the last time you ever seen one of these?  Or a Celebrity?, or a Buick Century?, or an Olds Cutlass Ciera/Cutlass Cruiser?  What uninspiring pieces of shit.  These cars could barely survive 100K miles, and the steering racks went out at about that time and it cost more to fix than the cars were worth. Of course GM’s smaller cars, Chevy Cavalier, Pontiac J-2000, Olds Firenza, and let’s not forget, the Cadillac Cimarron, were just as bad.

Yeah, that’s right GM sucks!  Oh yeah, what about the Ford Tempo, or the Chrysler K-Cars?  They were all junk.  It’s no wonder Honda and Toyota started kicking the American Car companies’ asses.

Now most of these cars sold fairly well, and a fairly large percentage of the original owners were happy with them, but history does not judge cars by sales or original owner satisfaction alone.  In fact, much of what makes any car, an icon, even a legend is the experiences of the second and third owners, and beyond.  Why?  In general, new car buyers are older people who have had their driver’s license for years.  Anything they might have done in a car that might be considered thrilling, is in their distant pasts. A new vehicle purchase is only a matter of economics and practicality for them.  No good stories are going to come from there.

It’s the second and third owners of cars that have the stories to tell, and the memories to share, and they are the ones who were most likely to see first hand, their cars strengths and weaknesses, as far as longevity is concerned.  They’re the people who raced their buddies with them, they’re the people who beat the shit out of them, they’re the people who worked on them, they’re the people who drove drunk in them, and they’re the people who had sex in them. Also, these people’s memories of their cars are more recent and vivid.  A large percentage of the original owners of the cars I mentioned earlier are dead now, let alone the original owners of muscle cars or ‘57 Chevys.  They’re not telling too many stories, anymore.

When it’s all said and done, with a few exceptions, the public’s memory of any particular model of car is more a composite of the subsequent owners memories than those of the original owners.

Now what is the common denominator of all the cars that I mentioned in the fourth and fifth paragraphs?  I mean besides, they were all pieces of shit?  That’s right, they were all front wheel drive.  Now that we’re on that subject, can you think of any American, front wheel drive car that has stood the test of time, as far as still being cool and desirable to this day? Don't bring up Cords here. it's not like you're gonna see any outside a museum. I suppose that if you caught me on the right day, in the right mood, I might agree that the old Toronados and Elderados were kinda, sorta cool. This isn’t a rip on American cars here, I’m ripping on front wheel drive.  I just qualified that one sentence in case there is some foreign front wheel drive car that’s cool, that I don’t know about.  (About the closest thing I can think of, is the import tuners of the Rice Burner crowd.  You might not like ‘em, but their fans do.)

Yeah, right

Even with foreign cars, front wheel drive is at the bottom of the performance heap.  All of the top European and Japanese performance cars are rear wheel drive.  To be fair here, I’ll give front wheel drive it’s due.  For daily commuters, especially in snowy areas, front wheel drive is hard to beat, but that’s it’s only advantage.  They can’t take advantage of weight transfer during acceleration, they tend to be more complicated and less sturdy, they’re harder to work on, more expensive to repair, and most importantly, just are not as cool as rear wheel drive cars, and that is in large part because they are almost never available with V8’s.  You can’t even transplant a V8 in one like you could with Vegas and Pintos.

Think about it.  Where are all the American cars from the ‘80’s and many from the ‘90’s.  They’ve long since been crushed and melted down.  The exceptions are Mustangs, Camaros, and GM G-Bodies. (Monte Carlos and such)  Why do they survive?  What do they have in common?  They’re all - rear wheel drive.  Obviously rear wheel drive and cool, go hand in hand.  Can you name me one American front wheel drive car over 10 years old that has any type of potential collector value?

The car companies tried and tried, but have never been able to pull it off.  Remember the Chevy Lumina Z-34?  They did seem kind of cool when they were new.  Would you even take one in average condition today, if someone offered it to you for free?  I wouldn’t, unless I could immediately turn around and sell it for whatever I could get for it.  They probably go for about $500 or so, for scrap.  How about those Dale Earnhardt front wheel drive Monte Carlos?  They’re an insult to his memory.

Take any Mustang, GM F-body (Camaro/Firebird) in reasonable condition (less the four bangers) from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s and compare them to any American front wheel drive car of the same age, in reasonable condition.  Can you think of any example where the front wheel drive car is worth more?  What do you think (assuming that they’re both in the same condition), has a greater value?  An ‘89 Camaro, or an ‘89 Cadillac DeVille?

Do I need to say anything more?  OK, excluding classes for front wheel drive cars only, how many front wheel drive race cars, of any type, do you ever see?  There’s a reason for that.  With the exception of serving duty as family cars, or daily commuter vehicles, front wheel drive sucks.

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