Monday, June 05, 2006

Rambling reflections on a 3 day weekend

I took a rare Friday off and spent the afternoon hanging out with my brother Bob. We just spent the afternoon meandering around, and of course since I'm addicted to Johnny Lightning die cast cars, when we ended up next door to a toy store, had to go in. For the record Johnny Lightning are the best die cast collectables on the market, I have the stray Matchbox and Hot Wheels, but for authentic looks and hard to find models JL wins hands down. I picked up about half a dozen pieces including a 1957 Ford Sunliner, 1969 Taladega and Shelby Cobra with the removeable hard top.
But my favorite find was a Johnny Lightning 1971 Pinto coupe. STOCK, not a dragster, but a plain jane Pinto Runabout in yellow. It's the little things in life that can bring the greatest joy. And don't think I don't feel silly as a 41 year old man tearing through the racks of cars at Kay Bee Toys, I do, but it's worth it. My mom had a Pinto just like the one pictured here and my dad had a blue 1973 Pinto wagon. Then I had a 1979 Pinto coupe also. So Pintos were a sort of family tradition. Well, not really, but we did have and enjoy 3 of them.
On Saturday we drove to Philadelphia for a party at a friend's house. Not exactly a Car crowd, but I did find one fellow to talk shop with. He is a gearhead, but loves foreign cars. He's currently shopping for a new car and considering the Acura TSX. So being a Ford guy I did my best to steer him toward the Blue Oval. No deal, Steve like many American consumers can't get over the past sins of the US Auto Industry. Even as I argued that the quality gap had shrunk to a sliver, it's perception of quality that wins sales for Japan. It didn't help that his current car is a BMW 3 series and he's shopping for Acura. Undeniably Honda/Acura quality is very high up there, and they don't call BMWs "The Ultimate Driving Machine" for nothing. So what FoMoCo product to steer him to? Well I tried to steer him toward Mazda, and was shocked to hear him say he wouldn't consider a Mazda after Ford bought them.

Now for the record Ford doesn't "own" Mazda, they are partnered with Mazda and own a controlling interest of Mazda. And this isn't a new situation, Ford has owned a major stake in Mazda since the 1970's. But I had never heard this position before. I had heard the opposite, possative comments about Ford's infusion of Mazda DNA in new products, but never concern the other way. It's a shame, because I believe that Ford quality has risen over the last 20 years to be on parr with Japan, even in models that don't share the Mazda genes. I even walked him out to my new Mazda and showed him the quality feel of materials. He was impressed, but not enough to install Mazda or Ford on his list above Acura.

On Sunday after driving back from Philadelphia, I met my brother over at a friend's house, both of us in our new Mazdas, his the Speed6 and my 3. And of course sibling rivalry did get the best of us for a brief moment when leaving and getting on the parkway. I was ahead of him on the entrance ramp, but not for long as he flew by me, even as I was approaching 80 mph in third gear. We both quickly came to our senses and adjusted our speed to comply with the speed limit. Well OK, maybe not comply, but come closer. And as I'm typing this, I reminded of Gary over at the Garage ( link in sidebar) and his recent article on street racing. Click on over and read it, Gary raises an interesting question.

Oh and final thoughts on the drive down and back from Philly, the 3 rocks. It's meant for this type of highway jaunt with speeds reaching the century mark I still achieved 30 mpg, and the ride was comfortable.

Hope you all had as nice a weekend as I.


J G Halmayr said...

Speaking of quality, my friend has his 2006 F-150 in the shop. There's a recall for the ABS warning light, no big deal, but it doesn't end there. The electronic odometer is being replaced, and one of the rear shocks has broken. Both are covered under warranty, but it sure was a hit tohisconfidence in Ford products to have two things go wrong after only having the vehicle for six months. The quality gap may be closing, but it's still there.

FordMazda said...

Acura is just copying Mazda anyway!

Big Ford Fan said...

JG, sorry to hear about your friend's F-150. Unfortunately there have been other problems with Ford trucks. Don't forget the spark plugs that were blowing out of the engine block. You're right the gap is still there.

FordMazda, welcome new commentor. I'm not sure I follow you. Copying Mazda? But I'm not a big fan of Honda or Acura anyway, so I'll agree on principal or my lack there of.

Anonymous said...

Hey!! Sorry i havent checked this blog in a while. Thanks for leaving a comment.. i was thinking that i was throwing that out there in vain; but my former youth pastor gave me his old car so i have the pinto still at home-resting. Ill fire her up once in a while, but i would love to be able to restore it some more. It has some trouble getting 'up to speed.' Its been my first car so it definetly has some sentimental value to me.