Designed to be built, not designed to cost.

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

My mother nearly despised the garish looks of American cars in the early 1960s. After all, she traded in her green Lark, made by Studebaker, for what could have been the first FIAT sold in New Orleans (we really got to know the dealer’s repair shop on Canal Street).

Who wouldn’t prefer the statement of even an Eldorado or a Oldsmobile Rocket 88 to the homogeneous appearance of nearly all cars today which remind me of upscale Trabants.


The demise of Detroit is well documented and particularly so in David Halberstam’s The Reckoning. John Kenneth Galbraith’s review. The essence is that the car guys, designers such as Chuck Jordan, who passed-away yesterday, lost control or stature within their companies and industries to the likes of Robert Mcnamara and his Whiz Kids, of which Les Aspen was one by the way. Quantitative Analysis and MBOs gone mad.

I’m sure that Chuck Jordan admired Steve Jobs as both share Chuck’s opinion of focus groups and brand managers etc: “A good designer doesn’t need Mr & Mrs Zilch from Kansas telling him what 2 do.” A bit harsh on the Jayhawk state and accurate in the context of asking strangers to imagine something that they’ve never seen before, ie a graphical user interface.

What will rise from the ashes of our automotive industry is yet to be determined. But let’s not put the cost-accountants and the financial wizards in control of our banking and investment industries.