Monday, March 06, 2006

Dear Mr General Motors:

Hello all and most especially Mr. Lutz, and Mr. Wagner and the rest of the General Motors board who may read, or hear this. I have quite a bit to say here and I do not want my thoughts to be construed as saying ‘GM must do this, or cannot at all to that’ but rather taken into consideration as you end you monthly meeting and try to turn around the giant that is General Motors.

As it is today, I do not own title to a General Motors vehicle, however my first car as a teenager with a new license was a 1994 Pontiac Grand AM. This car’s engine failed one day when an uncommon but well known problem with the lower intake manifold gasket failed causing coolant to leak into the crank case causing crank baring failure. I will speak about this experience in more detail a little later. My father is a classic car collector and holds title to a 1965 Chevy Corvette, and a 1975 Cadillac El Dorado convertible. He and I have restored these two cars, as well as a 1971 Corvette that was sold to purchase the 1965. My father and I where planning on, but did not, restore his fist classic purchase; a 1967 Cadillac Coupe Deville.

I have been what is known as “a Chevy guy” my entire life as my father bought the 1970 corvette when I was nine years old, and owned the 1967 Caddy since before I had conscience memory. I love this company even though I have no real ownership in any part. As such I feel great pain when the stock does poorly, or when I walk into a dealer and the cars I see are nowhere near what they used to be in terms of excitement, quality, and sprit.

Many people I talk to and many of the comments I read on various weblogs, have taken different positions on just what General Motors has become and where it is heading. I would like to think my position is well informed and not as hasty as others. With that being said, I feel as though the “old way of doing things” might be considered. I do not mean how things where done in the 1980’s or the 1970’s as some people consider to be “the old days” and not even what General Motors was doing in the 1960’s (one of GM’s best decades). But rather what made General Motors such a large and prosperous company… That is simply divisionalation.

The new buzz for this concept is “no more badge engineering” but that does not solve the greater problem at hand. SAAB was condemned at one point by someone at General Motors for being its own company even though GM had complete control (or 100 percent equity) of SAAB. I realize that during that time, and even now, SAAB has been losing money hand over fist, but that really has nothing to do with my point. I am merely stating the facts for now, because also during that time SAAB was developing some awesome technology that never would have got to see the spot light as an independent company, but never did anyway, because General Motors thought is not in the greater goods interests. I will take this time to be a little rash, and very harsh and say that sounds a lot like communism to me.

Now that General Motors is for the most part up the creek or so we sometimes say, it is time to shed the bureaucracy that is not General Motors’ management and start making fine automobiles. The badge engineering is still going on, and platform sharing is still running rampant. Even the little things like the naming of products can change the buying dynamics of consumers. An example would be the Grand AM turned G6; everyone knows what a Grand AM should cost, and what to expect, but the G6 left many people saying “I don’t know what this thing is! Is it the same as the Grand AM???” Well YES! It is the same as the Grand AM, so why bother changing the name??? I have been told by my friends in the business world that it was to shed the legacy of the Grand AM (and others) as to improve the image of Pontiac (and others). Okay, I can see that, but still there was no need to kill the Grand AM, while Pontiac was still making the GTO-my-god-it’s-a-holden-monaro.

To end this small rant, I would like to pose a more serious (however funny or curious) question. What’s so wrong with Ventura? Remember the Pontiac Ventura? I know what this car was; and could be again. But these is more to call to question why, if General Motors is going to bring back iconic names and proceed to butcher them, not bring back the more common names of what a car really was, a mass-market sedan or coupe. Cars like the Bel-air or the Parisienne/Catalina, Skylark.

One last thing I want to say for the record: I hate Saturn and everything about it. How dare General Motors kill Oldsmobile and try to upscale Saturn in its place! If anything else please do not think I am so stupid as to not be able to see with my own two eyes just how idiotic this is. Bad, bad, bad managing, just what in God’s name where you thinking? I know that in today’s market a 442 would beat the pants off of a Mustang GT500 any day of the week.

Anyway, there is much more I would like to say, but that will have to wait for a later time, as I do not want to run this too long. A quick bullet point follows:

-divide the company into its original divisions (including Oldsmobile, please)

-drop the late 1990’s foreign naming scheme (numbers and letters) for true General Motors names like ROADMASTER.

-I know I didn’t get too much into this for this post, but quality control is a must, either that, or charge a lot less for the hunk of junk I am buying… I’m going to need the extra money I saved to fix it later.

Thank you for listening to my rant, I realize I got a little hot tempered at the end, and I would like to have said more, but like I said I do not want to tell you how to run your company. I would like to see a 442 on the way though… maybe even a GS455.

PS: my next car (as an ‘everyday’ car) will most likely be a 1963 Chevy Impala because nothing made by any car company today fits my needs or wants.

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