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Used Parts Bin: My Brands

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Used Parts Bin: My Brands

Bill Crittenden
November 26, 2013

Speedmonkey.co.uk asks the question, "what car company are you a fan of, and why?"

Where do I start?  Do I go by company, such as General Motors, or brand, as in Chevrolet?  I think brand has a lot to do with it, I know people who love Pontiac and don't think too highly of Chevrolet, so I'll go by brand.

Speaking of Pontiac...I love history, and after hearing so much about Hudsons and Studebakers and DeSotos I finally get to tell the next generation I first drove a Plymouth, my first car was an Oldsmobile, my aunt always had a Mercury, and I drive a Pontiac now.  Anything from a major brand that isn't around any more is going to be cool to me.

Oldsmobile and Pontiac, though, will always be #1 and #2 to me.  My mom had two Oldsmobiles, and they were some of my youngest and favorite memories.  It's the automotive equivalent of comfort food to me.  They feel like home.  Then I bought a Pontiac, which has a familiar build but different styles and a fantastic group of fans.  The Pontiac guys have always been good to me, and I'm so happy to be one of them!

As for the rest of General Motors, it can be a hit or a miss, but generally because of my feelings towards Olds and Pontiac they're like cousins.  You gotta love 'em even when they screw up sometimes.

After my mom's Oldsmobiles, she bought the first of 5 Hyundais in the family.  Ever since I took our 1988 Excel sedan to 110 on the expressway I always had a feeling that this South Korean automotive underdog had some real potential.  That potential came to fruition on my father-in-law's face when I sat the quintessential old-school American car guy into a new Equus.  It was not the face he had when a 20-year old kid showed up at his house in an Accent GT to pick up his daughter for a date.  I've learned to never underestimate the new guy, the economy car producer, or South Koreans, and everything Hyundai does that impresses the automotive world feels like vindication.

I've been a fan if Toyota and how they build cars since auto mechanic school, when I also worked part time at a Toyota dealership.  They just make sense in how they're built.  They feel indestructible, as the Indestructible Hilux on Top Gear was just the second Toyota pickup I know of that could still drive after it had been in a fire and a building dropped on it (an old ex-girlfriend's uncle drove his out of the wreckage after a garage burned down on top of it).  My own Toyota-based car has suffered 175,000 miles of abuse and Chicago winters without ever leaving me stranded.

I like Nissan's attitude.  In fact, I just wrote about that.

I love technology and engineering, and nobody does it like Germans do.  During World War II they put complicated roller bearings in their tanks when a simple friction bearing would have worked just fine.  It's as if that even in the waning years of the war they were just incapable of dumbing themselves down, incapable of engineering something that wasn't state of the art and capable of lasting 50 years, even when the life expectancy of a tank couldn't have been more than a few months.  I think BMW gets my vote as favorite German mass-production car company for style and their Bavarian headquarters, which are as I'm aware two totally subjective criteria, but I respect them all very much.

I said "mass-production" when I wrote of BMW.  Who's my other favorite German company?  Weismann.  If you don't know who that is, I can't explain.  Just Google it.

Alfa Romeo would be my favorite Italian car.  The fact that people love cars falling apart at the seams makes me want to buy one to see what all the fuss is about.  And the style?  Art on wheels!  I love the MiTo, they made a hatchback that looks like a miniature supercar.

Anything British, except for Jaguar and Aston Martin.  I'm an Anglophile, but Jags are a bit too cliché here and Aston Martins are just rolling James Bond references.

I have a funny feeling about Ford.  Next to a classic Pontiac at a local cruise night, I'll prefer the Poncho nine times out of ten.  But Ford carries the banner for the American automobile industry worldwide, from Le Mans in the 1960's to the Cosworth-dominated era of Formula 1 to the World Rally Championship to the driveways of Richard Hammond (who has a '67 Mustang) and Jeremy Clarkson (former GT owner).  That part of me that feels national pride knows that it is a fleet of Fords, punctuated by the occasional yellow Corvette recently, that has best represented the American automobile around the world.

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