Funeral for Fiat?

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Newspaper people know that obits are written in advance – so they’re ready to go when the inevitable does occur.

Fiat is looking a little green around the gills.

Automotive News reports that Jeep – the most profitable arm of the Fiat-Chrysler conglomerate – sells more vehicles in a week than Fiat is likely to sell this year.

There is reportedly a six month inventory of cars awaiting owners at Fiat dealers – which is actually very good news for buyers. Fiat is selling new cars for the price of used ones. You can still find leftover 2018s on many dealership lots – and this means deals.

But it’s not good for dealers to sell new cars for the price of used ones. And it can only go on for so long.

Part of the problem, says the conventional wisdom, is the absence of any new Fiats.

The 500 micro-car hasn’t been updated since it was introduced back in 2011 – but this is arguably a good thing, given the updates visited upon new cars – most of which now come standard with a number of annoying and distracting saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety “features,” including Lane Keep Assist/Steering Assist, which is really steering correct/control. The system tries to force you back into your lane if you don’t signal before you change lanes – or try to turn off the road without signaling first.

Even if there’s no reason to signal – other than mindless genuflection to traffic law totems.

No ASS, either.

The Fiat’s engine doesn’t automatically stop every time the car does – and then automatically – but noticeably – restart when you take your foot off the brake pedal and apply pressure to the gas pedal.

The 500 is a cute – and fun – little car.

It is exceptionally easy to find a parking spot for one and yet it is startlingly roomy inside. Unlike the idiotic SmartCar, the 500 can accommodate passengers and cargo – a lot of cargo for its size. It’s also been around for long enough to establish that it’s a good car – contrary to the Fix It Again Tony stereotype.

It ought to be selling well.

Especially because it hasn’t got some of the latest “features” that new cars have.

The problem is the relentless propaganda eructed by the car press that such “features” are must-haves and the derisive commentary applied to those which don’t have it.

Despicably, such cars are described as “less safe” than the cars that do have these features – even though these “features” have no bearing on whether the car is or isn’t predictable/controllable to drive.

The Fiat 500 is is arguably safer than most cars precisely because it is small and agile – and so more maneuverable as well as less of a target. It can bob and weave.

Granted, if you hit something – or something hits you – it may not hold up as well. But that does not mean it is more likely to be hit – or to hit something.

But it has become practice to characterize – to synonymize – cars that haven’t got flashing warning lights like the Christmas tree in a redneck’s trailer and vibrating seats/steering wheels and steering that countersteers and brakes that apply themselves with cars that have weird and dangerous handling characteristics or bad brakes.

There are no new cars that fall into that category.

But not to have the constantly flashing lights/buzzers/nudges, etc. is taken as the equivalent of buying an evil-handling, wreck-prone old jalopy.

Also, people – in the main – seem to no longer want affordable cars. Or rather, cars they can afford. The Fiat 500 is extremely affordable. Just over $16k on paper for the 500 and a helluva lot less in fact. You can buy a new 500 for around $12k – which is less than half the price paid for the average new car (just over $35k) last year.

The Fiat’s price is so low many people could write a check for one. Or could, if they saved up a little. And even if not, the monthly cost to finance a $12k car is nearly nil. About $160 per month. That’s not much more than the cost of the latest iPhone.

But people don’t buy the 500 – or its slightly larger siblings, the 500L and 500X. Probably because they’re able to get loans for more car than they can afford. Just like they used to be able to get loans for houses they can’t afford.

The average family income in the United States is around $61,000.

Even pre-tax, the purchase of a $35,000 car represents more than half that sum. And post-tax, it represents a great deal more than that. In economically and otherwise saner times, families pulling in $61k gross would not qualify for a $35k car loan for reasons that ought not to require elaboration. But we live in economically insane times – and sane cars like the 500 can’t get purchase, so to speak, because people have been hypnotized into believing there really is a Big Rock Candy Mountain – just sign here.

Another factor – an interesting factor given the keening ululations of Uncle – is that gas is cheap and so people don’t care that much about gas mileage, a major selling point of the 500. Uncle cries that his fatwas demanding ever-higher MPGs are absolutely necessary because without them, the evil car companies would sell nothing but “gas guzzlers.”

Fiats don’t guzzle. But people choose to buy other cars that do.

It hasn’t helped that Sergio prematurely departed.

Sergio Marchionne – the head of FCA, who unexpectedly died last summer – was as much the animating force of FiatChrysler as Steve Jobs was of Apple. Both companies aren’t what they were.

The question, though, is what will become of Fiat?

It doesn’t look good. Unless gas prices go up – or enough people decide to buy cars they can afford as opposed to cars they can get loans for – it is probable that Fiat is going to sleep with the fishes before too long.

Which is a goddamn shame given you could buy three 500s for the price of one Tesla – and go twice as far in any one of them.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Maybe I’m being a little sarcastic, but I think they need to revive the X1/9.

    Except that federal fatwas would bloat it out to where it’s so big it wouldn’t be able to fit in a parking space. But I still have the heart of a romantic when it comes to that car, one of the first cars I ever had.

  2. As a serious question, Where on earth can you find a $12K new FIAT? I would actually be interested in buying that. With a long warranty of course. And only a manual transmission.

  3. Fiat’s are junk and always have been. Chrysler’s are junk and have been for 40 – 45 years. Fiat buys Chrysler and are now… double junk?

    Any fool that would buy a Fiat or Chrysler in this day and age of Lexus, Toyoto, and Honda deserve the headaches and misery that comes with this JUNK!

    Have a nice day….

  4. American car manufacturers would be selling new cars for used car prices if they hadn’t been sending ridiculous numbers of their trade-ins directly to crushers instead of allowing them to hang around and drive down the value of the new cars currently increasing the gluts on most dealership’s lots.
    When vehicles too old to have computers or seat belts have values that are increasing faster than new cars, it is a fair bet that the next legislative drive will be to criminalize their use outside of museums. It is an equally fair bet that LEOs that values their lives will ignore said new legislation in favor of jaywalking enforcement.

  5. ***”Part of the problem, says the conventional wisdom, is the absence of any new Fiats. “*****

    Or maybe it’s that people have figured out what pieces of shit Fiats are- pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as quality and reliability and resale value. Same deal as the last two times Fiat tried selling their garbage here (In the 60’s and then again in the late 80’s)- They can’t seem to accept the fact that Americans don’t want their low-quality Wop-mobiles.

    The joke is though, that Jeep is still doing well- when it is also near the bottom of the quality and reliability list. Long gone are the rugged, capable off-road behicles which made them famous; now they are just rebadged Fiats or Jeep-shaped Chryslers.

    Seventy-five freaking grand for a top-of-the-line Rubicon wannabe truck? Are they kidding?! Who the hell buys that? Won’t be long at this rate, before Fiat, Chrysler and Jeep are in the dust-bin of history….and considering the junk they’re putting out there- good riddance! Absence of annoying and intrusive nanny features isn’t enough to overpriced junk vehicles viable in a competitive market.

    Micro cars….when F150’s and SUVs are the best sellers, and other manufucturers are abandoning cars altogether….. Fix It Again Tony!

    • This is what I was thinking. Fiat has never had a good quality reputation, and it doesn’t appear anything has changed this go around. I certainly wouldn’t buy one and I’d tell anyone who asked to run far, far away from these cars.

  6. End of Fiat? Good riddance. Their commie dead president hated Mopars. His vision was to flood the market with trash and slowly kill Mopar. Well free markets don’t work that way! RIP. Go MOPAR. With a garage full of 70’s Chargers and other fun Mopars, we also own late model jeeps and a challenger. None have been as trouble free as yours. The Commander had all 4 done handles disintegrate from poor plastic matrix and a host of other annoying engineering defects. Mopar would not help. The challenger has an issue with rotting lower quarter panels and bad door handles that make the windows go haywire . The foam holds water and rots them , no fix. The Hemi’s have harmonic issues that cause engines to grenade. Mopar ignores the problem. But at least I have been able to repair everything myself except those stupid TPS systems. **ck uncle for those! The best selling 300 platforms, Challenger, Charger and Chryslers go away after 2020. I hope Trump can square away the EPA commies but I guess it is too late. I will buy a 2020 Challenger as my last car.
    My sister bought 2 new Wranglers and they have huge amounts of non essential expensive and unreliable crap.
    Can u imagine a Jeep costing over $50k. Someone builds a stripped jeep , a knock off without any safety equipment for about 15K. Off road use only. I hope somehow Mopar can purge Fiat and go on. I will miss the Challenger and not since the AMC commercials of the 60’s has any auto company had such aggressive performance basesd marketing! I love it!

    Charger John

    • Fiat cars, every time they entered the US market, always shared a remarkable similarity to Italian housewives in that they looked spectacular and beautifully finished when new but aged rapidly without constant maintenance. The last time they abandoned the US market they stole away in the dead of night, leaving the dealers without warranties and thus unsalable merchandise. The dealers, of course, went bankrupt and often lost their homes and everything they had, since such floorplan notes are written only with personal guarantees. I can but imagine the conversations in Fiat’s boardrooms. “Ah, the Amis are a clever and powerful people but all suffer from short memories – they forget how we stuck it to them last time we come to America. And there are no Fiat cars still alive from twenty years ago – all were recycled into aluminum beer cans, destroying evidence of our perfidy.

  7. I was driving a co-worker one day and signaled a turn cuz there was actually someone to signal to. He said “that’s the first time I seen you use your turn signal”. I replied “Cuz it’s the first time there was someone to sigal to”. The retarded-puzzled look on his face was laughable.

  8. I work in the automotive parts industry.

    No, Fiats issues have nothing to do with the car tech or gadgets.

    There was a period of 6 years where Fiat waffled about releasing cars in the U.S. after the ‘kwality’ problems they had in the 60’s to the late 80’s.

    It was plain as day to most of the Fiat management that the brand was automotive ebola in the U.S. and they needed a way to overcome their own history.
    (NOTE: important factoid because those execs were not U.S. citizens and therefore did not live with the cars previously shipped to the U.S.. How bad does your reputation have to be where the next generation of your citizens know about the magnitude of the problem in another nation)

    Some of the car models were ‘americanized’ and made a little larger hoping that would help placate history.

    Fiat is tied with Dodge/Chrylser as having the most replacement parts sold of any car brand in the U.S.
    Fiat is tied with Dodge/Chrylser as being the largest percentage of problems in the first year of ownership. Its significant in my industry because those ‘awards’ used to go to individual cars until 2005.
    Even reviews are not that glowing, and the count of used Fiat’s in Texas is only supplanted by Nissans by a factor of 8 times. (because Nissan sells 10X more cars than Fiat – but not related to quality)
    Fiat had a bad reputation and many over 40 have remembered this.
    Many bought a Fiat and then kept it for less than 3 years.

    Fiat is just not a good car. It was not in the past and it is not now. People can see this and many know the history.

    • Most replacement parts,maybe because Dodge/Chrysler/RAM/Jeep all use the same parts..3.2,3.6 and 5.7 Hemi are in all of those brands…For years they had lots of rental cars and they are hard on parts/cars….

      I owned Toyota,Honda,Ford and now Chrysler and a Dodge and so far I had better luck with my Chrysler/Dodge vehicles than any others,even better than my 2015 Camry (that had issues).

      My Challenger has never let me down nor needed anything in its 92,000 miles of hard driving..My 300 is fairly new and never needed anything..never went in except for the cruise control recall it took 15 minutes,and I never did have a problem with it..Car is better than the 2 other Camry’s we owned and both Camry’s used oil.the newer one used a lot more..Plus the rear power window failed and the front kicker panel was lose when new,unreal..The Challenger and 300 never had any issues..

      Recalls dont mean the car broke or will break..My Camry’s 3 quarts per 4,000 miles of driving was a huge issue..My Challenger with 92,000 miles uses none,unless I drive 90 mph and lots of burnouts with the Hemi..Driving it normally,never uses oil if it does in 4,000 miles its less than 1/8 th of a quart,its just below the full line,not on add like my babied Camry that the Wife drove ! The 300 doesn’t use a drop and 4000 miles is when I always change the oil..

      I have friends/family with Rams’,Jeeps other Dodge cars ,vans and they are all happy with them..The only complaints were friends who owned 2005-2008 300/Charger’s as they had front end issues on some..2011 and up dont have that issue..But then my 2004 Civic had front end issues at 75,000 miles,all were cheap enough to repair but still.

      Funny,the biggest complaints come from my Uncle/Cousins they only own imports since day 1..The Toyota’s had issues,Honda minivans cant keep a transmission..They used to ask me how are my cars running still lol…I owned a Challenger since 2009,owned a few of them..Wife had Honda’s,Toyota’s and a Ford(not in that order)..Now a 300..

    • I really liked my 1978 FIAT 131, which was the first new car I ever bought.
      Cheap to buy & maintain, fun to drive, & very reliable.
      OHC hemi head, 2bbl Weber, 5 speed OD.
      Tech who maintained it told me the biggest problem with FIATs was owners ignored the manual & did not perform scheduled maintenance.. Do the PM, the car runs just fine. Don’t do the PM, car breaks, blame manufacturer.
      Not a good car for those who can’t read, or follow instructions, I guess.

      • Well-said, Turtle!

        The same goes for early Corvairs (I owned one). Abide by the tire pressure recommends and the car handled great; ignore them – and it handled not-so-great.

  9. OFF TOPIC but I had an experience today I’d like to share…. We went riding today,,, a small cold front came through and it was a nice morning. Anyhow, went into a Sears Outlet store. The wife found a small freezer she liked so we went to check out…

    This was the first time in my 70 years I was asked for a government ID to buy something for essentially cash. I wanted to leave but the wife wanted the freezer so I reluctantly handed her my drivers license…. then she typed it all in, including the license number. Then it took over 10 minutes of processing before I could attempt to pay for it. I swear,,, I think they were doing a background check on me for buying something for essentially cash. I tend to be paranoid, so there’s that. Well long story short, they did not take Discover. After 30 minutes we left empty handed….

    I’m not overly religious but the ‘mark of the beast’ came to mind and every day I see more evidence of it…….

    • Next time, Ken, fork over the wife’s I.D. and see how badly she wants the freezer then. People on the outside label me as a misogynist at times, but I’m all for female equality. In fact, I’m still waiting for the female to ACT equally responsible, not just equally irresponsible as men. You know why you had to hand your I.D. to a woman for approval don’t you? Women will not listen to reason nor negotiate; that requires the ability to compromise and take responsibility for that compromise, and that isn’t likely to happen, ever. Their latest label for a man’s attempt to reason with a woman is “mansplaining”, which is meant to absolve them from even being expected to understand, let alone compromise to reach a settlement.
      Best thing is to never darken the door of wherever it was you went to begin with. The public has completely abandoned the one real power they USED to use, in force….the boycott. Nowadays, you would most likely have to change that to “personcott”, which just doesn’t really have any leverage to it, you know?

      • Mark3,

        “Besides alcohol”?????

        What THE fuck sir?

        Why would you comply, acquiesce, give in and produce your papers?

        I like my booze. But I always walk out when they start with the “I can’t sell…” bullshit.

        I’ve left everything at the checkout at least a thousand times. And I really get a kick out of the cashier following me out to the parking lot screaming that I have to put everything back.

        The best ones are the “everyone in your group has to have ID,” love that one.

        I’m all polite and say I’ll be right back. Then I go grab a couple of 30 packs and when asked again, I say I’m not paying for that service today.

        Believe it or not Mark3, I don’t have a problem with keeping the pantry stocked with food and drink.

        You, on the other hand will accede to the demands of a fucking cashier and produce zee papers without the threat of great bodily harm. Eventually, when you are hungry enough, you’ll have zee papers ready so you can get a loaf of bread.

        It is simply Pavlovianism Mark3. America started drooling when the bell started ringing for the Whiskey Rebellion.

        Now America embraces the idea of showing ID daily.

        Have some fun at the Walmart. Roll up to the checkout with a couple hundred bucks worth of stuff. Last thing on the conveyor is the alcohol (or paint or allergy medicine or…). Watch them bag everything and load up your cart.

        Then say, “No thank you.”

        • The checkout clerks are just following the rules. If they don’t ask for your ID they are liable to get fired.
          Why create trouble for the little guy when the problem is with big government?

          • I Escher,

            I take your point – but it’s got to be stood up to somewhere and these “little guys” are willing participants in an evil system. It’s why I have no sympathy for any TSA geek.

            Or Wal Mart vested minion demanding I prove I’m not a thief by showing a receipt and having the items I just bought inspected. I walk right by them and ignore them. I’m a pretty big guy, and it’s usually some old lady or doughy middle aged guy – so they haven’t attempted to stop me so far. I hope they don’t try. Because if they lay hands on me, I will lay hands on them. They’re not AGWs. They grab me – and it’s game on.

            • My local grocery cashiers not only demand ID for beer or wine, they actually scan it into their computers. I won’t do it. The liquor store doesn’t ever need ID.

              Then I discovered that if I use one of those self check out lanes the local attendant will simply come over and punch in some numbers without ever asking for ID.

              Makes me wonder if part of it is getting us used to the shadow work of self scanning & bagging. Less labor cost.

              Pump our own gas, scan & bag our own groceries, all things that used to be jobs for kids, now done by the customer at no discount. Frickin’ modern world…

              • Amen, Bill –

                We are erecting our own pens… for “convenience.” I have no issue with self-checkout, per se. But I resent that I am not paid – via some sort of discount – for doing the work that they used to pay people to do.

                On ID:

                I’m more than twice the legal age now and absolutely refuse to participate in the idiocy – which is really Obeisance Training.

                No one over 40 can be mistaken for someone under 21. It is absurd on the face of it. But forcing people over 40 – over 60 – to present ID serves the purpose of habituating people to living in a police state.

                Not me. More weight.

            • Eric – even IF the WalMart receipt checker is a guy as big and no older, it’s still a very BAD idea to lay a hand on ’em if they try to physically restrain you or take your merchandise (which is by that time YOUR property, not the store’s). Just break away and KEEP WALKING.

              My “little goil” (just turned 18 and graduated “high skrewl”) has worked for Walley World for over a year. She says that it’s WM policy that the checkers do NOT interfere with a customer that refuses the receipt check, and not even yell “stop, thief!” or anything like that. They are trained for signs of shoplifting and to alert the store’s Loss Prevention staffer(s) on hand to interpret the situation and act accordingly.

              In many locales, particularly some of these podunk Southern states, WalMart contributes to the local police/sheriff’s “Benevolence Fund”, in effect hiring the cops as their own supplemental security service. If you shove or hit a WM employee that’s wrongly trying to restrain you or take YOUR purchases away from you, it’ll be YOU that gets arrested. If you’re “tough enough” to fight, you’re tough enough to break away and keep going. Let them try to tackle you as you leave the premises, if they’ve any brains they’ll desist…if not, get a lawyer and “Count Da Money!” (De Monet….)

              • Hi Doug,

                Right you are sir; but it does get my blood up. I don’t fly anymore because I almost lost control of myself the last time I did – when I had to fly out to AZ after my dad died. A TSA geek hassled me on the way back and I hallucinated ripping his larynx out as I tried to keep my arms by my sides.

                I am not a “tough guy” – and I hate physical violence. But I hate what this country is becoming even more.

                • Just advising you as to when to pick your battles, Brother Eric…but as a famous “George” (hint: ’twasn’t Patton) said, “In time of peace…PREPARE for war!”

              • Given the fact that there is no more surveilled store in the country, in towns where the police have terminals in their cars, they will have a photo of you and your car on those terminals before they enter the Walmart parking lot with a complete indication of your location in the lot. Their greeters do not have a mandate to detain you. That is what the asset protection people are trained, equipped, and supported to do. Walmart has no need for dummy cameras. They have hundreds of people in Bentonville watching your every move. Known shoplifters are detected nationwide.

              • I walk past them all of the time. The guy at Best Buy knows me since I purchase there so often that he just nods.

                Once, a line of sheeple were queued 15 deep to be checked at a Wal-Mart. The look on their faces as black sheep me strutted right on past them was an educational experience for me.

                This country is dead to rites.

        • Irony: I’ve NEVER, since I was sixteen years old, been asked for age verification at A GOVERNMENT RUN LIQUOR STORE.

    • Home appliances with computers will lead to a strong resale value of those without, just as it has already with cars and pickups without.
      One has to wonder why LED lights haven’t lead to Peltier refrigerators.

  10. “Funeral For Fiat” has a deja vu resonance, doesn’t it?

    Only part of you post that I don’t buy is your attribution of part of Fiat’s failure to “negative press” because they don’t have all the “latest safety Features.” It’s doubtful that Fiat would be doing much better even if the automotive press praised them to the heavens. 😉

    • Thanks, Mike – and maybe so!

      But the influence of the virtue-signaling press is enormous; if it decrees a new car “must have” most people will insist they must have it. Especially women. Who love saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety as much as men used to love women!

      • Ya know, Eric, I think it’s nearly the same as far as virtuous cars & liberated women. Both seem so glorious, civilized, and progressive in the media, and in the “public eye”.
        But once your stuck with either one, all the little “virtues” and “conveniences” of both get to be increasingly irritating, annoying, exhausting and then either will ultimately become an unaffordable financial expense you want to quietly get shed of.

          • Thanks, Tuan, but I stick to the adage of “can’t shoot them”, in both cases! My solution to both has been effective, and non lethal. Cars I can repair indefinitely, until I am just tired of fooling with one, then I sell it. Women I cannot fix, (nor do I wish to attempt), but can be just as quickly convinced to relocate themselves, although, sadly not without a price. One just has to weigh the current financial and emotional drain against the similar price of freedom. being that I have had many automobiles longer than any wife or girlfriend, and one or two longer than all my female relationships combined, I can sooner “get over” a failed relationship, than the loss of some of some of my cars or bikes. Hell, some cars and bikes have come back to be with me just out of coincidence or good fortune. That has never , nor will ever be the case for a woman. I think there is yet another “fish” saying about that as well, something about there being “plenty of”. I’ve not really been keen on fishing for the most part anyways, at least not in the “mainstream”, so I really only have myself to blame, lol!

        • I have a 2007 work van that I’m often in and out of. Because of that damned seat belt warning chime I got a shim that I can plug into the belt receptacle that tricks it into thinking I’m strapped in.

          Yesterday I jumped in to run some rainy day errands and noticed after a couple of miles that I felt oddly light and almost free. It reminded me of driving in my youth. Then I realized I’d left the shim in and the seat belt off (oh the humanity! Heaven forfend!).

          So I smiled and drove without the “benefit” of that particular little convenience. I may just superglue that shim in place!

  11. Ram is still growing and we’ll find out in 30 days or so if they’ve shamed GM a second quarter in a row. Even if they are shoddily thrown together they still are decent looking trucks with a 5.7 V8 standard, not a 2.7L turbo…

  12. Eric,,, Americans are too FAT! Which is why they buy the large SUV’s and trucks. Heck, they’re not even buying American models for the same reason.

    I laugh every time I see a HUGE supercab truck with a couple super heavy duty humans inside stopped at an intersection beside some small EV. I jokingly ask my wife: “Do you suppose they’ll buy an EV?”

    • I have to add,,, this is why the Law Enforcement went to SUV’s and Trucks,,, They’re too FAT! I watched one take over three minutes to exit a cruiser. He was so huge I still have no clue as to how he drove the vehicle,,, of course they’re trained don’tchaknow.
      I can remember when they were trying to make these blubberbutts lose weight but good ole American equality stepped in. Now they can’t even be fired………… And I’ve noticed the Fire Department is following their lead…..

      • Hi Ken,

        There is a silver living to this… the obese AGWs aren’t physically able to pursue on foot. And most are awful drivers, too.

        I know this from direct personal experience!

      • Although big SUVs are a great convenience for obese AGWs, that’s not the main reason they have replaced most squad cars.

        Most cars no longer are built body on frame. That means they just aren’t up to the heavy workload that’s part of the cop job. Cop cars need to be able ram other cars during pursuits, and carry a lot of job related equipment. And of course, there are very few full sized sedans still on the market. Fewer still coming in the future. So just like much of the civilian market, cops are forced into SUVs almost by default.

        Granted, extra heavy cops add to the vehicle’s workload. 🙂

        Just trying to keep the real reasons grounded in reality.

  13. The central bankers (not just the FED, all central banks) have kept interest rates far too low for too long. And banks aren’t allowed to say no, just say “sub prime” and charge accordingly. What bank would care anyway, they get the money for almost nothing from the FED (or their depositors who are still getting their 0.1% interest on “deposit” accounts).

    Check out this Wikipedia picture:

    Note the advertised interest rate of 4% on thrift (savings) accounts. I have a money market account that I use to cover my insurance deductibles, that is intended to pay a higher interest rate than a standard savings account, and if I got 4% on it I’d back up the truck. Of course the bank in the picture is going under, but I remember seeing advertised rates of 5% on savings accounts as late as the 1980s.

    Banks don’t care about credit worthiness, or how strung out you are on your debt/income ratio, just that you keep borrowing. Because for them it’s all profit. Even if say 30% of their borrowers default they’re still going to have a gross margin of 69% before “expenses,” basically paying someone to punch numbers into a computer and get a result back and advertising.

    • Hi Anonymous,

      That is the stereotype – based on the history. But it is ancient history. Older Fiats – those sold during the ’70s and before – were indeed (like most mechanical Italian things) prone to troubles and parts became hard to find when Fiat hightailed it back to Europe for a few decades.

      But neither are issues now.

      • I can attest to that. In the 1980s, I used to own a 1978 fiat x19 and it was complete crap which is why I will never own another of that brand. It reached a point where I would wonder whether or not the thing would start that day. Also, it was almost impossible to find a reliable mechanic and none of them (fiat specialists) were affordable.

        • Hi Anonymous,

          Very true! But circa 1979, everything – just about – was crap. A car with 50,000 miles on it was frequently a smoky car. Paint peeled/faded; panels rusted. They were easier – and much cheaper – to keep going. But in terms of reliability and durability compared to modern stuff, they were … crap!

          • My first pickup (I had an earlier car) was a ’76 F100 with an inline 6 and Three on the Tree. I got over third of a million miles outta that thing! I don’t know if I just got lucky or if it was because I doted on it, but it was – and remains – one of my favorite vehicles.

            I did build a wooden flatbed on it after it rusted out. And rivet sheet metal over the huge Flintstones like holes in the floorboards (which were convenient at times for – ah – getting rid of some things), and springs after the old ones rusted and broke, oh and I did put in a floor shift after the column bushings made that shift no good, and… Ah, but I loved that truck!

              • I’ll put a crate motor in my 2006 F-150 and pay a welder to replace metal before I buy a new anything.

                With all of the untested safety nazi gee gaws, leasing with all of its warts will one day make sense.

                I just bought a cherry garage kept, one owner 2,500 miles 1986 Honda Rebel 450. No control grid crap and a carb, I’m set no matter what happens.

          • Indeed from about 1976 to 1983 was the nadir of American automotive engineering. The idiots then running Mopar (before Iaccoca came over from Ford and sweet-talking Jimmy Carter into that Government-backed loan that kept them afloat) took a perfectly good line, the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant, and REPLACED THEM when they still sold like hotcakes on Sunday, with the ill-fated Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare…not even a slick commercial with a lounge singer for the latter could bamboozle the car buying public that the replacement compact line was anything but utter crap. Which, in a way, I don’t get, since most of the mechanicals were the SAME…I dunno how Chrysler managed to fuck up their “bread and butter” market (little old ladies on a budget, fleet buyers, and young families that couldn’t afford much else), but they found a way.

            I actually have a fondness for a brief line of what was then a “full” sized car, the R-body (Dodge St. Regis, Chrysler Newport, and, when the cops demanded a cheap fleet car, the Plymouth Gran Fury)…considering that the whole line was done with existing B-body tooling and completely on the cheap, as Chrysler was hemorrhaging cash, not a bad effort. Also a honorable mention would be the Dodge Mirada/Chrysler Cordoba of 1980 to 1983. Actually well-styled for the time…one just had to learn how to tune the Carter Thermoquad, but once you had that down, the car was pure ‘pussy’! Just shows that desperation is often the mother(fucker) of invention!

        • Owned a ’75 X 1/9…while not fast, that mid engine could out corner Vettes and Jags…So while the car was sub-standard in quality, it was a chick magnet…my first love Lynn and I made lifelong memories together courtesy of the Italians…


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