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Old 10-24-2012, 02:55 PM
 
Location: Somewhere flat in Mississippi
4,729 posts, read 2,744,991 times
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Default Did some foreign cars deserve their bad reputation?

There used to be a lot of dealerships in the United States selling British, French, and Italian cars. These were often secondary brands sold at dealers that mostly sold American cars. Although some of these brands (MG, Renault, FIAT, etc.) developed a following, for many Americans, these cars had a bad reputation. Were they correct?
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:15 PM
 
Location: occupied east coast
565 posts, read 1,029,369 times
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I can tell you this...

Even back in "the day", I NEVER drove an M.G. over three years old that had a second gear synchro.

AND...virtually all of them had electrical problems.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:17 PM
 
Location: city-suburbia west...Houston, TX
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Owned a renault (not in the USA), definitely a piece of cr*p. Saw the same car then rebadged as a Chrysler, two wrongs do not make a right.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:19 PM
 
Location: city-suburbia west...Houston, TX
1,318 posts, read 1,151,186 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banger View Post
I can tell you this...

Even back in "the day", I NEVER drove an M.G. over three years old that had a second gear synchro.

AND...virtually all of them had electrical problems.
Haha, funny, my parents had an MGB and i remember when it rained I'd have to duck under the snap on cover (not sure why the convertable roof wasn't used) and I'd watch the road whizz by through the rust holes in the floor boards!
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Somewhere flat in Mississippi
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For a long time, Great Britain was turning out vehicles of lousy quality. Even Jaguar didn't escape having a bad reputation.
One problem could be that these automobiles were not "Americanized". They were more suited for short trips in moderate climates (like Great Britain) than long trips in a land of extreme climates like the United States.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:50 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 30,869,110 times
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Most British cars used Lucas electrical systems. Also know and "Lights Out Electrical Systems"

There used to be a shirt available. It was all black. In black letters it says "Lucas Electrical Systems."

British cars were often marvels of engineering technology that did nto work properly or was impractical but was eventually adopted by other car makers.

First antilock brake system - Jensen FF

First "Quad 4" engine (I think) - Lotus.

I do not remember the other items but many of the semi recent technological advances in cars were put into use (badly) by the British car makers a decade or so before they were adopted by the big brands.

Brits can think up great ideas for cars, they just do not seem to execute those ideas very well.
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:03 PM
 
Location: NH
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This is the second time today I mentioned this car in a forum... Yugo
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:14 PM
 
8,171 posts, read 21,392,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouldy Old Schmo View Post
There used to be a lot of dealerships in the United States selling British, French, and Italian cars. These were often secondary brands sold at dealers that mostly sold American cars. Although some of these brands (MG, Renault, FIAT, etc.) developed a following, for many Americans, these cars had a bad reputation. Were they correct?
Not only did these, and many others now long gone from the USA marketplace ... die here, but they didn't necessarily do all that well in their home markets, either.

At best, some of them built cars that didn't just earn them a poor reputation, they aggressively designed & built cars to court that set of qualities.

Some of this was due to country politics ...

For example, when Ford first bought Jaguar (seeking an upline cachet), they wanted to address the poor English electrical systems. The plan was to supply USA designed (not necessarily manufactured) electrical and electronics, gauges, instruments, switches, window motors, and so forth ... The Brit gov't told them that they could not do so, it would put a huge dent in the sales volume of Smiths and Lucas domestic operations and Ford had to agree to continue to use these products or would be forced out. So Ford agreed to help keep those workers "employed" rather than on the dole, but did manage to hammer out an agreement that they would meet certain quality/performance targets within so many years or Ford would walk if they couldn't upgrade to the far more reliable proven USA products. In due course, the domestic Brit designed/manufactured crap didn't work and Ford was allowed to upgrade to keep Jaguar sales alive.

Similarly, the charms and appeal ... the wonderful memories of so many Brit "classics" ... were hampered in the real world marketplace by their shortcomings, premature product failures, and electrical disasters. With the onslaught of quality Asian produced cars entering their marketplace, the Brit cars couldn't be competitive for value and reliability in their own home marketplace. So they died out even in their home market ... Triumph, MG, A-H, Sunbeam, Hillman, and so many others, some specialty cars (Lotus, Daimler, etc), some limited production lines (TVR, etc) ... at a time when domestic car sales were expanding.

Lest anybody think I'm going to pick on the Brits ... the French, Italians, and Germans all had their lemons in the mix, too. I've a long love affair with some Peugeots ... a famous name dating back to the origins of automotive design and history ... with some wonderfully comfortable transportation cars that were so infuriatingly undependable in essential aspects, yet so nice to drive with such excellent fuel economy ... but they killed their own market here in the USA without any guilt whatsoever. Long ownership of Alfa-Romeo's, too ... but here again, they have so many "quirks" in design that lead to serious expensive component failures, that I have better fond memories of the days when all goes well and the drive is a pleasure and try to forget the blown head gaskets, wiped out synchro's, fuel systems that didn't deliver .... where else do you find a car with an injection system that has aftermarket published "emergency get home fixes" that are based upon rubber bands, paper clips, and other get arounds for components that die with regularity for no other reason than they were built more than a few months ago? or maybe it was the phases of the moon and Jupiter's path around the sun?

Even M-B had some quirky little cars that just didn't deliver all that well ... if you compare their offerings from the 1950's to early 1960's. Much as I have fond memories of driving these cars, I've also had enough experience with Fords and Chevy's (and Caddy's, too) from the era to know that the USA cars were far more capable and durable than the vaunted reputation of the imported cars. BMW didn't hit their stride until the 1602 ... later, 2002, came to these shores. The few handbuilt top of the line roadsters weren't an economic or sales factor here ... much as I like to drive a 507 now and then, it's a rarity and each one was absolutely unique because BMW couldn't maintain quality control on the line with these.
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:17 PM
 
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I owned a Fiat. Fiat stands for "fix it again Tony."
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Old 10-24-2012, 05:15 PM
Status: "Which witch is which?" (set 13 days ago)
 
Location: In the land of cotton
4,267 posts, read 2,135,323 times
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I owned a Triumph Spitfire. That thing would literally drop nuts and bolts onto the road and the floorboard when I drove it. I had a collection of nuts and bolts that I kept - hoping one day to find where they belonged. One day the speedometer cable just snapped-off the back of the dial and was writhing around on the floorboard like a metallic snake - it grabbed onto my pant leg and wound itself into the fabric. I was so glad to finally get rid of that money pit.
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