Ralph Nader – the mortal enemy of everything on four wheels and everyone behind the wheel – just got inducted into the… Automotive Hall of Fame.
“We are pleased to induct four individuals (the others are Carl Benz’s wife, former Ford CEO Alan Mullally and legendary engineer Roy Lunn) whose entrepreneurial spirit helped create today’s global automotive industry,” announced Hall of Fame President William Chapin. “Each made their unique vision a reality through tenacity, creativity and forward thinking, traits that still drive the auto industry evolution today.”
Italics added. Explanation not necessary.
Maybe next week the KKK will elect Jesse Jackson its new Imperial Wizard.
Ralph Nader is an “entrepreneurial spirit”? He “helped create” the global automotive industry”?
I got dizzy reading this.
Nader is a shyster lawyer and self-appointed “consumer advocate.”
I did not ask him to “advocate” for me.
This man – who doesn’t even drive – has spent a lifetime devoted to gimping the automobile (and the automobile industry) … always in the name of “safety.”
But let’s start with what made Nader famous – and powerful – his attack on General Motors and specifically, the Chevrolet Corvair.
He vilified the air-cooled/rear-engined/swing-axled 1960-1964 Corvair as “unsafe” – but never said a peep about the much less safe VW Beetle and other import-brand models that had the same suspension/drivetrain layout.
And – one would assume – the same “defect.”
The problem wasn’t with the Corvair (or the Beetle or the Porsche 911) but with some of the people who drove Corvairs.
The imbeciles amongst us.
These were the people who ignored the critically important recommended tire inflation pressures – much less air in the front tires than in the rear tires. Critical because of the light front end and engine in the rear end – and instead added too much air to the front tires, unbalancing the handling. The car was now prone to oversteering (the tail breaking loose and coming around) during high-speed cornering.
VW Beetles had the same vulnerability – and the early Porsche 911 even more so. Yet neither was smeared as “unsafe” by Nader.
Both cars, accordingly, continued to be built for decades without a peep of derision directed their way while the Corvair was ruined by Nader’s demagoguery.
And in a very real way, so was GM.
The company was never quite the same – and neither was the car industry. Idiot-proofing became the new In Thing. The emphasis shifted away from style and fun and the presumption that Americans were adults who didn’t need to be Mommied by such as Ralph or controlled by his go-to enforcer, Uncle.
And for this disgusting cuckolding, Ralph is to be honored by the Automotive Hall of Fame!
People forget – or never knew – that the Corvair was an extremely innovate design; in a very real way, it was a better VW Beetle. (Full disclosure: I’ve owned and driven both. Unlike Ralph.)
It was, first of all, larger – with a much roomier interior. The car’s larger size made it safer than the VW, in terms of being able to protect occupants in the event of a crash.
And it was less likely to be in a crash because it also had a larger, more powerful six-cylinder air-cooled engine – vs. the VW’s much smaller four cylinder air-cooled engine. The Beetle – which had top speed of around 80 MPH – was marginal (dare we say unsafe) on U.S highways, where the speed limit at the time (1960s) was typically 70-75 MPH. The Corvair could handle those speeds, with margin to spare. The Beetle could barely manage those speeds, with next to nothing to spare.
Nader never fulminated against the Beetle’s “dangerously insufficient” speed.
Nor the Porsche 911’s excessive speed.
Excessive not so much in terms of what it was capable of, but in terms of what could happen in the event a not-capable driver put one into a corner at high speed and then took his foot off the gas. The early 911 was known for “lift off” oversteer. But this was a driver inexperience problem, not a 911 problem.
If you kept on the gas in the corners, the ass end of the 911 remained glued to the road and the car handled phenomenally.
As would the Corvair – which became known (before Nader ruined it) as the poor man’s Porsche.
It is important to point out a fact that the Automotive Hall of Shame will never disclose. It is that Nader has no engineering background or mechanical savvy. If he had either thing, he’d have understood the Corvair.
And faulted the drivers who didn’t keep the tires properly inflated – and who didn’t know how to safely and properly drive a rear-engined car.
The tire inflation thing is particularly ridiculous – in terms of blaming the Corvair. Why not – using the same “reasoning” blame an engine failure caused by the owner under (or over) filling the crankcase on “defective” design?
But then, Ralph is an agitator, not an engineer.
He used the Corvair for his own purposes – which had nothing to do with “safety” and everything to do with establishing himself as a “consumer advocate” minister plenipotentiary.
I must’ve missed the election… .
It is a very curious thing that in Red Giant Stage America, a loudmouth with the right politics (that is, politics agreeable to the powers that be) can assume what amounts to a lifetime appointment as the “representative” of a “constituency” that never so much as held a straw ballot.
And, once appointed, the loudmouth’s views become policy.
Air bags, for instance. It was Nader who hopped onto that hobbyhorse and saw to it (along with the termagant Joan Claybrook) that what consumers had rejected they’d be compelled to accept… for their “safety,” of course.
Air bags had been offered as optional equipment by several manufacturers. Like the Corvair, you could buy them if you wanted them. No one forced you.
But when people didn’t buy them, Ralph “took action.” People like Ralph are always taking action. Not for themselves.
And so now we have to have air bags – and accept the deaths caused by air bags. Which no one (except this writer) ever seems to blame Ralph and his ilk for.
It is very odd.
GM is evil when it sells a car that people were free to buy or not – and which maybe did require more in the way of driver skill and attentiveness to its maintenance requirements than other cars, but wasn’t dangerous if handled properly.
But force-feeding potentially and actually dangerous air bags to people while deliberately covering up the known dangers is No Big Deal.
I wonder when a statue to Klaus Barbie will be placed in front of the entrance to the Holocaust Museum in DC… .
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