Friday, August 22, 2008

The Best Car? Hint, “Brown Wingtips”

If anything, other than our Constitution and baseball, can be said to represent the American ideal, it is our great love affair with cars. For Americans cars have always been much more than just about transportation and this great story from The American looks into our ongoing and deeply held love affair with our cars.

An excerpt.

“What’s the best-selling car of all time? I took an informal poll recently and made it a point to ask some people who are real car buffs. I got some interesting answers. One person said 1957 Chevy. Two people guessed Ford Mustang. Another thought it was Volkswagen’s beloved and iconic Beetle. Still another guessed the best seller was the Model T Ford. Someone came up with yet another Ford product, the once ubiquitous Taurus. Two people guessed the best seller had to be the Toyota Camry, because, as one of them said, “You see’em all over the place.”
“Well, the answer is none of the above.

“The closest guessers came up with the Beetle and the Model T. Both of these cars rank among the highest in sales. But no, the best-selling car of all time is the Toyota Corolla. That’s right, the nondescript compact Corolla, a sort of automotive wallflower introduced in 1968, has notched over 32 million sales around the world. And the figure keeps climbing.

“The second-best seller is not a car at all. It’s the Ford F series pickup truck, which has been around in various iterations since 1948. The F series has sold somewhere close to the Corolla figure (some estimates actually put it higher). But F series figures should probably be “asterisked” because the trucks range from the normal F-150 pickup to several larger heavy-duty models that some would say are different vehicles entirely. It is significant that these trucks have achieved a worldwide sales ranking while selling almost exclusively in the U.S. market. Americans love their pickups. And Ford’s “classic” pickup, the F-150, continues to be the best-selling vehicle in the United States year after year...

"Introduced in the United States in 1968, the Corolla was a homely little coupe or sedan; 60 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, stick shift. It was priced around $1,700 and it looked it. But it didn’t rattle. It had few exotic parts to break down. In fact, you could beat the hell out of it and it kept going.

"As the car has evolved over the generations—mainly as a sedan but also through various coupe and station wagon iterations—it has kept its Toyota bloodlines and remained true to its rather conservative virtues. One review of the newest Corolla notes that while its kickier rivals the Honda Civic and Mazda 3 “are the running shoes of the compact class, think of the Corolla as a nice pair of brown wingtips.”