The Absent Economy Car

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Certainly, we live in a very different world than the world of 1980, say. And part of the reason it is different is because things have changed.

Yes, indeed.

One of those changes has been the disappearance of what were called economy cars, back then. Such cars do not exist today – in part because there are very few new cars being made, period. Two-thirds of the vehicles sold today are crossovers and most of the rest are SUVs and trucks.

Some of these are entry level but that is not quite the same as economy. Can you think of anything new that’s anything like a 1980 Chevy Chevette or Honda Civic or Datsun (that’s what Nissan was, back then) 210?

Probably not. Because there isn’t.

A 1980 Datsun B210 stickered for just under $3k when it was new – which amounts to about $12k today. That will buy you a used entry level vehicle today. It will not buy you anything new. Not even a Mitsubishi Mirage – which is one of the very few new cars you can still buy and one of the few vehicles you can buy for less than $20,000. The Mirage stickers for $16,695 to start, which is less expensive than pretty much every other new vehicle on the market but it’s still almost $5k more expensive than a 1980 Datsun B210.

Because the Mirage isn’t an economy car. It is an entry level car.

What’s the difference?

An economy car – back when they still made them – did not come standard with air conditioning, for one thing. In 1980, half the cars sold (and almost all trucks) didn’t come standard with it. AC was an option. One that was considered luxurious. Which – of course – it was. Especially in a truck, which – in those days – was a vehicle chiefly bought to use for work. But the point is that if you couldn’t afford the luxury of AC, you went without.

Which is how most economy cars came. They were economical – to buy – because they didn’t come with AC, which doesn’t come free. It is neither here nor there whether AC is nice to have; of course it is. So is a nice house (and those are no longer even entry level).

What you did get when you bought an economy car was a basic car. Just the car. Literally. A body draped over a frame with an engine under the hood and a very basic drivetrain – including, invariably, a manual transmission. Economy cars did not come standard with automatic transmissions; some didn’t even offer them – it being as contrary to the point of the thing as looking at the menu in a fancy restaurant where you can’t afford to eat.

Today’s entry level cars all come standard with automatics and manual transmissions are optional in the few models that still offer them.

They also come standard with at least a four speaker stereo. Power windows and locks are near-ubiquitous. These are all amenities that used to be extra-cost; the point being (as regards economy cars) you didn’t have to pay the cost.

Today, you do – because the costs are folded into the standard price.

Some will say – correctly – that things have gotten better, materially and one metric of that is people no longer need do without amenities that used to be considered luxuries. And that’s true. It’s also true that a larger and growing cohort of buyers can’t afford to buy these entry level cars because their incomes have not kept pace with the increase in the cost of entry level.

With the cost of everything.

When two plastic bags of basic groceries costs $100 it is hard to afford an entry level crossover that costs $22,000. Or even a Mitsubishi Mirage that costs about $5k more in real buying-power dollars than a 1980 Datsun B210.

Imagine if such a car were available again.

People might not have been interested in an economy car like that as recently as four years ago. But that was before a couple of bags of basic groceries cost more than $100 – and back when it didn’t take $50 to put 15 gallons of gas into an entry-level crossover.

Such a car might be very interesting to lots of people now.

It’d be interesting to see what would happen, if people were offered the chance to buy one again. Just the same as it’d be interesting to see whether young people in their 20s who cannot afford a $430,000 entry level home (this is now the average cost of a single family home in this country) would be interested in a house they could actually afford to buy.

The kitchen might not have granite countertops and there might be just one bathroom but it’d be theirs – kind of like the way an economy car used to be most people’s first car. But that was before most young people were priced out of new or even recent-vintage cars, as they’re being priced out of homes, too.

. . .

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70 COMMENTS

  1. Advice from the L.A. Slimes to fleeing Californicators:

    ‘If you must leave California for Texas, Arizona, New England or anywhere else, don’t be a person who trash-talks the home of 39 million people. You don’t hear many new Californians (they exist!) bash Nebraska or Minnesota.

    ‘California is big, powerful and therefore tempting to disparage. We have 39 million people, Hollywood and Shohei Ohtani. This state is a haven for reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights, but income disparity and the housing crunch are critical problems we have to fix for progressive ideals to match the reality on the ground.’ — Paul Thornton

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2024-01-20/leaving-california-migration-insults

    Look, Paul: progressives have been trying to ‘fix’ these problems for almost our entire lifetime. But they’ve only gotten worse. Net outmigration from California proves it. The fix isn’t a fix at all. It’s a drip feed of social poison.

    How typical of the leftist Lügenpresse to demand the muzzling of dissenters. Stalin would have just shot them … with bullets. Leftists use ‘safe and effective’ clot shots instead.

  2. No economy car….soon no economy house…or any housing……the save’s standard of living gets worse….

    Zero emission cars?….soon your house has to be upgraded to zero emission too…at an estimated cost of about $109,000…..

    Push people out of their house into a 15 min city/prison…controlling the slaves…

    https://www.bitchute.com/video/5fDYmAYKuQGm/

  3. I learned to drive in a 1970 Maverick my Dad bought almost-new for under a grand.
    Straight 6, 3-on-the-tree, AM radio, no A/C, no carpet (yes, carpet was optional!).
    Roll-up windows, manual door locks.
    To open the trunk, you had to get out of the car, put the key in the lock, and turn it.

    Ah, the good old days.

    My cousin learned to drive in a Chevette Scooter his Dad bought used in the early 1970s.
    It didn’t even have a back seat. (Yes, optional back seat!)

    These cars were cheap.
    They sure as heck weren’t speed demons.
    Perfect for teen boys getting learner’s permits.

  4. My first car in ‘91 was an ‘80 Datsun 510 (4 door with hatchback). Bought it from a neighbor for $800. So rusty you could see the road go by under your feet in the back seats. Needed weekly (seemed like it, anyway) alignments so the guy who sold it to me gave about 8 different tires to swap out for different wear patterns. A lot of repairs but it never stranded me away from home. The water pump had the courtesy to die in the driveway. Had it for about 3 years until it started having weird electrical problems that no one could really figure out and then it died and I traded it on a new F-150 with vinyl bench seat, angle windows, a stick shift and an AM/FM radio. I had A/C put in as an option.

  5. Here is a stripped down, non connected, basic car…with great fuel economy…and more fun then about any other car….

    At $32,000 not a cheap car…but….the biggest cost in a car is depreciation….the depreciation in these is very low…near zero….so ownership cost is very low….

    Caterham 170S

    Engine 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
    Power 84PS (62kW) @ 6,500rpm
    Torque 116Nm (86lb ft) @ 4,500rpm
    Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive
    Kerb weight 465.5kg …970 lb….
    0-62mph 6.9 seconds
    Top speed 105mph
    Fuel economy 58.3mpg
    CO2 emissions 109g/km
    Price £22,990 about $32,000 U.S.

  6. From Charlie Bilello, via Mish Shedlock: a chart showing that the average price of a Tesla has fallen from a high of $67,900 in mid-2022 to … $35,844 today.

    http://tinyurl.com/5xp9dnfp

    Pretty soon, used Teslas may qualify as eclownomy [sic] cars. But they won’t go very far. 🙁

  7. My father had a modified Bob Sharp 260Z and when it was in the shop once my mother and I had to drive the loaner, a B-210. It was hilariously slow and a subject of non-stop mocking in that regard, but it was a decent car.

    • Hi Bryan,

      We (Gen X and older) who got to drive those old econo-boxes did mock them, at the time – because we didn’t realize (at the time) how bad things would get. We assumed – wrongly – they’d get better. And we took it for granted we’d always have choices. I have no beef with people who can afford to drive a fancy car; good for them! My beef is with the way everyone else is being forced to pay for a fancy car…

      • haha, drove many a 1300 70’s civics (after I wrecked my gto I saved for from 12yrs old, then no money, zero). we’d get them from neighbors for nothing who couldn’t afford to fix all the blown head gasket problems they had (dealer wanted half what the car was worth or more), and learned how to do it ourselves. cheap parts, lots of labor. But we loved them, and it became a little side biz to make money.
        Had 4-6 of them lined up on the street for years at any given time, but no one complained (in a decent suburban area) because we fixed their crappy hondas too!
        When we migrated to the 1500cc 5sp we thought we were living!!!!!
        Later in HS/college I was hired by a local mechanic shop (3-bay) and did all their honda work, made big bucks (relative). owner would save all the hondas for me over the weekends, I would knock out 3-6 of them a weekend and make big $.
        Remember all the crazy amount of vacuum hoses on those CVCC carb engines? I was good at it, cause I loved it.

          • Funny you should say that Mister Liberty. I use that word a lot, adding or creating value. I think I learned it in college that ‘true wealth is only created by making something out of raw materials’.
            It stuck, and I have applied it to people as well. I tell my friends, kids, employees, all the time ‘you have to figure out how to add value, it’s the only way’.
            Right now I’m critiquing lots of resume’s. My message is simple: do not say what you were responsible for, say what you accomplished’.
            Thanks

        • I looked at buying a 1983 Honda that had 2 black boxes on the engine with 48 rubber hoses emerging from the boxes. Crap that. I bought a new Dodge Colt then, no options, 39 mpg in the city and 51-54 on the highway. It did not have 48 vacuum hoses.

          • haha, I could have fixed it!
            I even once fixed a spider web of vacuum hoses that the dealer couldn’t fix (they messed it up in the first place, we all hated that crook dealer, still remember the name). Took me a while, but I found it! There was a site glass on the carb float bowl and there is was, bubbles that aren’t supposed to be there! They crossed two (of a hundred!) hoses and walla, fixed. The owner hugged me.

    • Bob Sharp Datsun was in Georgetown, Ct. Cool place during the time i was there as a kid.. 1970 to 1983 or so. It was down the road from.Georgetown Motors, who sold Jaguar and AMC automobiles.

  8. Older I get, the less I need. Had I knew what I known now, I’d have skipped either getting a Badlands or the Midpackage on my girl, a Black Diamond would have more than sufficed for me.

    As I tell everyone, based on the sage wisdom I’ve acquired here, better to add whatcha want in an older car than try to remove what you don’t in a newer one.

  9. It reminds me of the 1978 Toyota Corolla I had. No AC, no power steering or brakes, crank windows, but it was reliable and got me where I needed to go.

      • a 1972 Corolla with a 3TC hemi turbo charged engine…a 9 second car….is just as quick as the multi million dollar hyper cars….or EV’s in 2024…

  10. I wonder whether it would be possible to build an economy car today.

    It’s required to have several airbags (6, I think, front two and all side windows). Crash requirements make it heavy. Efficiency requirements force a complex engine, because it has to move a lot of weight. A/C is probably required because a modern slippery shape is no good at moving air through the cabin because things like side windows that open cause drag. Manual transmissions have a hard time meeting emissions rules.

    • What about a Boutique brand that finds the federal limits and undercuts it (Say if a manufacturer sells like 50k cars, they’re “mandated”[lol] to follow fed. regs, they sell 49k), but sells what people REALLY want.

      It’s 2024, we were promised Jetpacks and flying cars by now, meanwhile we’re being factchecked by men who think they can breastfeed and having universities and industries run into the ground by DIE hires. Somethings gotta give, as us normal people are tired of this communist insanity and overreach

        • What beautiful cars! Unfortunately, $250k to 320k is a bit out of my price range. 😳 Not a damn computer screen in any of them though.

          • It’s odd how, back in The Day (with the exception of the Shelby) I could have bought any single one of them.

            …Can’t now.

            Such a thought never entered my mind at the time.

            • Hi Helot,

              When I bought my ’76 TA in the early ’90s, cars like it were abundant and affordable. High school kids drove them. They were just old cars. Today, I’d have to really stretch to buy a ’76 TA like mine. No way could a guy in his young 20s afford one without taking out a big loan. Today’s youth have lost something they’ll never have.

  11. It’s Monday, can’t trust that day.

    I drove a B210 that was for sale back in about 1980, the price was 300 dollars. Too small of a car, went and bought a 1968 Chevy half-ton pickup for 500 dollars. Was a fool to sell it, but it would be gone by now, anyway.

    Back when everything was economical, now the warehouses are full of arms and legs, especially in Ukraine and Gaza.

    A new Ford F-150 has a base price of almost 37,000 dollars, then you can make other choices for add-ons if you want. Add on more stuff, you will pay 48,000 dollars.

    Joe eating ice cream is darn near obscene. Hanging out with Joe would be a ‘no’.

    “You look like a muleskinner… I can tell the occupation of a man merely by looking at him… this man has spent years with mules. Hire the muleskinner!” – General Custer, Little Big Man

  12. RE: “I doubt something like a B-210 would sell today.”

    I dunno, UTV’s are quite numerous here and seem to fit the bill fairly well: No AC and, “Literally. A body draped over a frame with an engine under the hood and a very basic drivetrain – including, invariably, a manual transmission.”

    Seems the States sure do have some cockamamie rules & registration regulations though.

    … “In order to register a UTV as a regular street legal vehicle through the Iowa MVD, it would need to fit Iowa’s definition of a street legal vehicle and pass an Iowa motor vehicle inspection, however Iowa’s laws do not allow for this. […]

    How to get street legal
    In states like Montana and South Dakota, the vehicle code allows UTVs to be registered as street legal vehicles. You can register your UTV in those states without ever leaving your home. Once registration is complete and the required equipment is installed, your UTV will be street legal in Iowa with an out-of-state registration”…

    https://www.dirtlegal.com/street-legal-utv-guide/iowa

    • A state could simply reclassify non conforming vehicles (with modern standards) such as a brand new Datsun B210 or something similar as a UTV and bingo. Fuck the federal government.

  13. My first truck was a Toyota pickup (no T-name there) that was formerly my father’s. It had two great options in the South: A/C and cruise control (my father had a long commute). It had roll-up windows, a notchy 5-speed and an AM/FM radio with two speakers and no tape deck (which I later bought a replacement head unit). It didn’t even have carpet on the floor pan.

    I later got a Civic hatch with roll-up windows, a stick, no cruise but at least it had A/C. That was a great car too.

    It’s a shame that kids can’t live without all of the luxuries, especially the giant screens shoehorned in the dash.

  14. While certainly not am economy car, I do want to offer a positive comment about Toyota. I just watched an old Motorweek on the 1997 Lexus ES 300. Certainly a great car, and still looks good 25 years later, but I was absolutely shocked to see the base MSRP at $30k. I just looked up the base MSRP for a 2024 Lexus ES 350, and it’s $43k. Given the Fed’s constant inflation, this is an absolute bargain! According to the gubmint’s inflation calculator, that’s the 1997 equivalent of about $24k.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-2cw4rL9TQ

  15. It’s all part & parcel of eliminating Citizens. Subjects are to be kept unarmed and immobile. And both are being accomplished by instituting “SAAAAAAFTY” protocols, mandates, dictates, and so forth. Collectivism over individualism, it’s all there in Marxism/Globalization.
    As much of a fan of the Original 1960’s Star Trek Series, it is very much a Marxist society, with the ‘freedom to travel’ being mostly reserved for Starfleet. Harry Mudd is about the only character who travels freely, and he is portrayed as a ruthless ‘space pirate’, profiting off of the “free will” of his ‘victims’. There are notable anti-collectivist episodes, but that was not the vision of Comrade Roddenberry, either. TNG was ‘Political Correctness in Space’, DS-9 was “Gay Men in Space”, and Voyager was “LGBTQ Lost in Space” in a very obviously phallic spaceship. It’s all Marxist brainwashing, if you ask me.

    • Cyrano Jones traveled freely until the Tribble incident, but, when reviewing the file, Mr. Spock hinted at minor criminal infractions in Jones’ past which remained unspecified.

  16. Datsun 210 my first real car. And that was a great car! I put 125k on it and all it ever needed was regular oil changes, a set of new tires and brake pads. I have never since had a car that required so little money to drive.

  17. The elephant in the room is fiat money. Wondering if there’s a correlation between Nixon erasing the last link to gold & the fact that cars, while more ‘luxurious’ are also significantly more expensive. If a car cost $1000 before, now costs $6000 in debased FRNs, then the automakers threw in power windows or some other feature to mask the odious increase. Assume it’s not a major expense to the manufacturer and it takes away a line of tooling, skills, etc.

    • [Wondering if there’s a correlation between Nixon erasing the last link to gold…]- Mike

      Oh yea! 1913 was ignition,,, 1971 was lift off.

      We are now in the re-entry phase soon to crash and burn.

  18. When mom gave my brother her Gremlin she bought a ’76 Corolla. First foreign car for us, and we were hooked. Even in auto form it had unheard-of gas mileage for that time.

    And it was green, a color that’s probably a $400 option today.

  19. I doubt something like a B-210 would sell today. The kids these days buy top of the line and finance it forever. The rule is that you have to have the best or get crafty and make your own custom product.

    Now if China were allowed to sell cars here… That’s another story. They seem to be able to make a cheap product that feels (and often is) premium and dump it on the market with China Post picking up the shipping.

    Look at drones, for example.
    I can buy a DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise with Flir knock-off thermal camera for about $8K. Or I can buy a Skydio X10 (100% American made) with similar sensors and high end flight controller for… $25K. I could scrape together enough cash to pay for the DJI drone, but would have to finance the Skydio. Could Skydio come up with a less capable drone that could compete? They tried and had some success, but critics didn’t like the S2’s camera, so they left the consumer market. Investors, especially this latest C round, demanded they concentrate on military and first responder markets. Then the company went on a lobbying tour to get DJI drones banned in Federal agencies. There are other US manufactured drones, but at the production volume of DJI and they’re all charging Skydio prices.

    The investor community wants results in 6 months. You can’t build an industry on that, unless you’re the next Taylor Swift or making the next hit video game. Even filmmaking is stumbling under the demand for hits. Creating something like an entry level car, with low margins and unpredictable sales, just isn’t possible with today’s investor.

    • Hi RK,

      I don’t disagree with your analysis. That said, I think everything you’ve adduced is symptomatic of a dying culture. I want it right now! I don’t care whether I can afford it! I can finance it! And then these people bitch when they can’t afford “health care” or “education.”

      Or even a new refrigerator. Because they can’t come up with $1,000 cash money.

      • We’ve been financing our lifestyle with debt for far too long. I have a test I used back when I worked. Anytime I made a significant purchase, I calculated “how many hours will I have to work to pay for this?”

        • I agree, John –

          I got into a big argument with my mom a few years back (this was before her Alzheimers manifested). She had money problems because she spent a lot of the money my dad earned on new cars she just had to have. Well, my dad died and she spent through the money she had left and I ended up moving her to an apartment in my area. One day, I went to see her and took my truck. We went to get some groceries and she made a snarky comment about my “old truck.” I said: Yeah, mom. It is old. But it’s paid for. I didn’t finance it. And I will keep it for as many years as it’s still reliable enough to keep and worth fixing as I go. And that’s why I’m not dead broke while you…

          • Interesting anecdote about your mother. A LOT (although admittedly, not ALL) of the trend toward high-optioned cars has to do with the increased feminization of driving and car-buying. Women do not like vinyl seats and manual shift and adjusting their own mirrors.

            I had a base ’99 Ranger 4 cyl manual I paid $4200 for used in 2001. ZERO options. I drove it to over 200k and would still be driving it if it hadn’t rotted. Loved it.

            When I bought my first new car ever in 2006, my wife INSISTED on A/C. I live in the North where I “need” A/C maybe two months out of the year max and my attitude was always “if it’s hot out, unroll the windows.” Wife, on the other hand, will hop in the car and turn the A/C and fan on full blast like a child immediately any day over 75 degrees. (Or, conversely, turn on the heat full blast when the car is still cold in the winter).

            Again, there are men who get dazzled by options as well, but generally women don’t know fuck-all about cars but rather they are interested in comfort and appearance. If a guy says “how cheap is it, how easy is it to fix, and how many miles can I get out of it” a woman’s attitude will generally be “is it red and does it have A/C and heated seats?” Sold!

            It is said that Ed Cole designed the 1957 BelAir with aircraft styling because he was an actual pilot who flew a Beechcraft Bonanza.

            Today of course GM is run by Mary Barra…

          • We spend money that we don’t have,
            to buy things we don’t need,
            Or even want,
            To impress people we don’t like,
            And who don’t like us….
            To make impressions that don’t matter…
            George Carlin

      • Try 2k for a new fridge. New fridges are replete with tech garbage that no one needs. There is probably some federal component there too. New fridges also don’t cool as well as the older ones. The 1k fridge is the stripper model. I like to keep my 2008 one operation with an occasional vaccuuming of the coils and reapirs (of the starting relay).

        • ‘There is probably some federal component there too.’ — swamprat

          You bet — R134a refrigerant was banned on Jan 1, 2021. Now new refrigerators use flammable isobutane. It is claimed to offer excellent performance, and that may be so. But:

          Solid state start coil relays are used instead of mechanical relays to remove a potential ignition source. And, the refrigerant charge is kept low so that even if it all escapes, risk remains low.

          Despite isobutane looking good on paper for its properties, a small total charge could mean an underpowered unit, though with low electrical draw.

    • RK,

      If you want a look at Chinese motor vehicles, go check out CFMOTO motorcycles, UTVs, and ATVs. Their quality seems to be good, and they offer a lot for the money. For example, you can get a 650ADV motorcycle fully loaded for the same price you’d pay for the base model of its Japanese competition, the Kawasaki Versys. If Chinese cars have comparable build quality and prices of CFMOTO bikes, they’ll sell well here.

      • Be careful Mark. I am a motorcycle nut (and engineer). own lots, and ride dirt and ADV’s, big and small. I bought a harley a few years back and the owner found out I was an ADV guy and begged me to critique his CFMoto that he said ‘has a ktm engine in it’ We’ll not really, just a copy of one, good copy, but still a copy. So I critiqued his ‘flagship’ 800 ADV CFmoto bike and in 5-10minutes I said “sorry john, this is a street bike in ADV clothing” It would get destroyed really riding off-road. Please don’t sell to anyone you know will be going off-road with it.
        Then I went to his parts counter (with him) and said ‘get me avail. of x and y parts’. Guy spent 10 minutes on his computer and said ‘NA’. There ya go John. They’re not ready.
        Now this was 2 yrs ago, are they better now? Don’t know, but I would do the same ritual to see for myself.
        All ADV bikes break because we abuse them and crash them. If an important part is not avail., it’s bricked.

        • CFMOTO’S 650ADV is their answer to the Kawasaki Versys, both of which are street bikes in ADV clothing. The dead giveaway is the cast vs. spoke wheels. Their ground clearance isn’t adequate for anything hardcore. Both bikes could hit a hardpack fireroad, but that’s about it. They’re both street bikes pretending to be ADV bikes.

          I don’t know how CFMOTO’s parts availability is, as I don’t own one. I’ve looked at their bikes, but I don’t own one. I liked what I saw when I looked at them; I thought that they offered value for the money. I know that they have an American division or subsidiary in MN, but that’s all I know.

  20. Part of the problem with entry level cars having as many standard features as a luxury vehicle had decades ago is what if you don’t really need or want it? Such as AC in Alaska, sure their are a few weeks a year that it might be nice but wouldn’t you rather spend the money on a posi trac rear end that you could use all winter long?

    • The HVAC systems are put in at a subassembly plant somewhere else. Then the whole dash is brought in and installed on the line as one piece. It would cost them more to remove the air conditioning than it does to install it. And the engineers can design for predictable aerodynamics. The last few cars I’ve owned can’t have the windows open at highway speed or the wind will set up standing wave oscillation in the cabin, a very uncomfortable situation.

    • I don’t know when this idea of loading cars with AC started. Seemed that by the late 80’s, about 80-90% of cars had AC as standard equipment. AC added at least 400 to the cost of a new car. Then came power windows. I remember by 2001, I bought one of the last vehicles to come with roll down windows, a Saturn L100. You couldn’t even get a Honda Civic without power windows by that time.

      People have been conditioned to need this equipment even in an entry level car.

      I would go back to roll down windows and manual locks in a second. Along with no AC. None of that crap bothers me. My first new car was a 1987 Integra. Although it had AC, it had roll down windows. Manual Trans, and manual door locks. The carpet was a thinner pile than the upmarket LS models, and the car had no cruise, windows, locks. It was fine with me. The car drove the same as the upmarket trim. For a drive out price of about $10600, it was the perfect car for me. I wish I would have kept it.

      I believe if you could demonstrate savings to the younger crowd, some might be interested and you would still be able to meet margins.

      The key is to only hire software engineers to control the powertrain and ABS. No need for complex software. I wager that is the biggest cost driver in modern vehicles.

      • Swamprat: When I bought my 05 ION 1 I splurged on AC and floor mats. AC was an option on the 1s then. I also got the automatic because the manual was noisy, jumpy and sucked to use. Total downgrade from the one in the 95 SL1 I drove to the dealer in. Not something I wanted to fight in LA traffic. The SL’s 5 speed was instinctive and a dream to use
        Crank windows. No cruise. No OnFart or Sun and Surf package which included the sunroof. No fancy wheels, ABS, traction control, PW, PL.
        I believe the Saturn S Series was probably the last “Economy Car” built in the US.
        The basic SL didn’t even come with power steering or AC. Designed so an owner could repair it easily. Polymer fenders on all four corners that could be unbolted instead of cut off for repairs and replacement and polymer vertical panels that didn’t rust.
        Fastforward 20 [19 to be precise] years, my little brother has been driving the 95 SL1 for well over 15 years and the 05 ION is still in my driveway looking like a late model.
        The answer is to allow small inexpensive cars to be exempt from the demonic Federal Regulations that have a death grip on the industry. The government needs to GTFO out of the automobile industry. But then, The Detroit BK Three has been cucks for the feds since the early 70s, so no sympathy there once it all collapses in a heap. The Fed’s ho and the union’s b!7ch.
        I paid $15,000 in 05 money. To replace with something similar I’d have to shell out $25-30,000, be forced to have stuff I don’t need or want, a frantic turbo-fvkked 3 cylinder, more weight, electronic and feature bloat, ASS, half baked engineering tricks to squeeze the last fraction out of a gallon of gas and a dubious transmission to drive the front wheels.
        No thanks.
        The template was set for me with the 63 Valiant I bought in 1981. A Signet hardtop Slant Six, three speed on the column, “nicely equipped” with radio, heater and probably whitewalls. Someone had added seatbelts and a Montgomery Ward Riverside under dash AC unit probably back in the early 70s.
        Every car since has been basic and simple, the same approximate size, weight and width.
        I don’t want what they’re selling so, this will be my final new car. Even if I live another 30 years.
        Buyer’s strike!

    • That’s assuming you can still GET plastic bags at your grocery store! CA and NJ, among other states, have outlawed them; you can’t even pay extra or ask for them anymore. I like ’em, because they’re good for the car, the office waste basket, and cleaning out the litter box.

      • Exactly! Now I have to buy wastebasket liners for a ridiculous price compared to re-using the supermarket bags for that. So much for “sustainable”. 😝

  21. ‘Imagine if such a [entry level] car were available again.’ — eric

    Imagine if a tyrannical US fedgov, operating WAY outside its constitutional mandate, effectively prohibited entry level cars:

    ‘NHTSA estimates that the total cost of safety technologies that are linked to the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) added an average of $1,929 (in 2012 dollars) and 171 pounds to the average passenger car in MY 2012.’

    http://tinyurl.com/nhhh7zek

    It takes close to 300 pages in the linked document to list, discuss and set out the cost of all the fedgov saaaaaaafety standards mandated through 2012. Today, a dozen years on, probably it would take 500 pages.

    You don’t need no PhD in Sociology to grok that the megalomaniacal US fedgov is viciously elitist and viciously anti-populist. Starving people out with runaway prices is a feature, not a glitch. Soylent Green is people.

    This is why Uniparty politicians — basically any insider who has been collaborating with the hostile, weaponized fedgov — must be shunned like rat poison.

    • Hey Jim – your link is broken. I like what you are posting here. $2k for saaaaaaafety back in 2012, before back up cameras and driver assist. I wonder if it includes the extra metal and plastic necessary for the side impact and rollover standards. …

      Today, we have required stability control and back up cameras. That’s all I know about…..

      It’s all a waste of money. The mileage fatality rate has actually increased since 2012 from about 1.1 to 1.3 deaths per mvmt. I contend that a large part of it is today’s vehicle designs.

      • Thanks for letting me know. This is a Google Search link to a 325-page pdf document: ‘Cost and Weight Added by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for MY 1968-2012 Passenger Cars and LTVs’, NHTSA, Nov 2017.

        http://tinyurl.com/ypun44cp

        They know exactly what they are doing, and continue doing it, making cars unreliable and unaffordable.

    • Henry Ford II and the other industry leaders predicted that Fed demands would add $2000 to the cost of a car by 1975.

      That was about the time when people reentering the market experienced “sticker shock”. Where they discovered that what they had paid for their 1971 LeSabre only bought them a stripped Century or loaded Apollo.

      No more LTD for you sucker. Here’s a Granada.

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