After selling my business in 1977, I tried buying a Cadillac from a dealer in Plattsburgh, NY. I picked out a car, tested it, liked it. I told the dealer I would take it with no trade, pay cash and pay his asking price — about $20,000.
I only asked one small thing: “I live in the mountains and can only get adequate reception with a Sony. So please take out the radio in it now and install the Sony that’s in my old wagon.”
He thought for a while and said, “I can’t do that. What would I do with the Delco that is in the Caddy?”
“I’ll take that one off your hands,” I said, “and give it to a friend.”
He said, “We can’t make that swap in our shop,” explaining that I’d have to have a specialty shop do it, and pay them for the swapping the radios.
I said, “Goodbye,” and departed.
Later I spent a year in Michigan and bought an expensive, new Oldsmobile wagon. It was a diesel — the newest thing in big Oldsmobiles, and, I was soon to learn, not quite the best thing. Popular Mechanics was later to brand it one of the 10 worst cars in GM history.
It could barely climb the Adirondack Mountains on the way home. Winter came and the car would not start, and when it did start it wheezed. An employee of mine joked, “You’ll need a tow truck to get around in that car.”
I kept taking it to the Oldsmobile dealer for warranty work, but it never ran correctly, and the dealer was not able to to fix it. Later I learned that GM had issued what the dealer called a “silent recall.” That is when a car is flagged with a problem and GM warns its dealers but fails to tell the customer and refuses to offer any remedy. The dealer told me the diesel motors never worked, but GM refused to take the car back. I traded it quickly and took a terrible bath.
When the foreign cars came in with the Volkswagen, I bought three in a row, and I bought a fleet of Datsun trucks for my business. Since my experience with GM I have done my best to avoid purchasing any domestic cars.
Popular Mechanics in a recent article contends GM is currently making several excellent cars, but the company cannot live down its past of making junk, palming it off on the customer, failing to tell the customer, and then refusing to make restitution.
My experience with the US automakers’ arrogance, stupidity, cheating and lousy quality resulted in their losing about 30 new auto sales to my business and family. Needless to say I oppose bailing the bastards out with my money until they refund the $22,000 in 1978 dollars GM stole from me.