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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mechanic's analysis of Detroit's products

Chismillionaire is pretty much in agreement(Now that the Ford GT is no longer in production)- there is nothing Detroit has that is the best in all facets. A shame really.

Now I tell the truth for a living. A good living. I get big checks to write this garbage. Big enough that I can buy any car I want. OK, that's a stretch. The Mechanic cannot afford a Rolls or a Bugatti, but I've got money to spend. And I've got good taste. I'm also college-educated. Literate. And I appreciate the best. When I spend my money I spend it on quality goods. And the car I choose to be seen in must be a quality item. The finest of its kind.

In other words, I would not buy an American car. It's hard for me to even type that. Fact is, I'd like to buy an American car, a great American car. It just doesn't exist.

This only occurred to me recently, when my father, The Mechanic Sr., asked me what car I would buy if I could buy anything. I realized there wasn't an American car or truck on the list. Not one I lusted after.

Oh sure, the latest batch of goods from Eminem's hometown is worth a look; the Cadillac CTS is strong, the Buick Enclave is very good and the Pontiac G8 GT is a fine machine. I can also say good things about the Dodge Challenger SRT8, the Ford Flex and the Chevy Malibu. I also think the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is pretty cool. And then there's the Corvette, which is likable in Z06 form and downright desirable in ZR1 trim. They're all good cars and trucks; they're just not the best.

And I said I want the best. The very best. And for the best you simply don't shop in Dearborn, Auburn Hills or Detroit's Renaissance Center.

Shame, really. But the facts are the facts. The bar keeps moving and Ford, Chrysler and General Motors are forever in catch-up mode. Have been since the first muscle car era became the first energy crisis. Hate to be the one to say it out loud, but Detroit remains a lap down.

Sure I'm kicking it when it's bleeding all over the floor. With full force and a pointy boot. But this is why it's down. Eventually, not making the best catches up with you.

Now your panties are in a big ball of a bunch, aren't they? Well, before you fire off some half-witted comment, keep reading. I'm about to cite examples.

For example: the new Corvette ZR1. 638 hp. Fastest, most powerful car in GM's 100-year history. Yawn. The new Mercedes SL65 AMG Black Series packs 670 hp. It also looks like it costs six figures (the ZR1 is just a Z06 with a window cut in its hood) and doesn't pack a Wal-Mart interior.

I know, I know. The ZR1 is $100,000 while the SL65 Black Series will be more than twice that. So what? The Benz is still the best.

Screw price. I'm dog tired of giving GM and the rest of Detroit that out. Their cars are almost always cheaper and usually bigger. That's their game. They can't make it better, so they make it cheaper and bigger. Kinda like Costco. You get 500 rolls of the world's roughest toilet paper for $1. Your ass is killing you, but there's no arguing the value. (Ironically, the Germans make fine automobiles but produce the world's roughest TP.)

It worked for the Corvette Z06. "As fast as exotics for less than half the price," said the ad copy. But now the world has the Nissan GT-R. It costs about the same as the Z06, but delivers more speed, a better interior, more features and more technology. Don't even get me started on build quality. Without a doubt, the GT-R is the best high-performance car you can buy for $80,000.

See, the bar keeps moving and Detroit's a lap down.

I could go on with specific examples, but it's easier to just make a blanket statement: No American car, from the lowly Ford Focus to the mighty ZR1, is truly the best car in its segment in the world. Not one. The biggest of big pickup trucks being the exception and that's only because they're still the only game in town for dually diesels. Honda and BMW don't make those.

Sad, really. And it's not something Detroit wants to hear. They read the praise in the press and they believe their own PR. Cadillac really thinks the CTS is as good or better than anything in the world. Better than a BMW 5 Series. Better than a Mercedes E-Class. Sorry, guys. It's closer than you've ever been, but it's still a lap behind.

And if the members of the automotive press actually voted with their dollars instead of writing with their hearts, they would all be driving something from Japan or Germany. Well, the smart ones would anyway. The ones who don't live in Detroit. -- The Mechanic, Inside Line Contributor

By the way, take some time out of your questionable existence and e-mail me at