Monday, October 24, 2011

Chevrolet Turns 100

We celebrated the 100th anniversary of Ford Motor Company back in 2003, but now it's that other American icon's turn to hit the century mark. Chevrolet is running fat advertisements in the car magazines (and probably everywhere else) to let us know that the Heartbeat of America is still going strong.

Nowadays, with the enthusiasm for German engineering (BMW, Mercedes, Audi) and respect for quality. economy and reliability (Toyota, Honda) and rise of the Korean brands (Hyundai, Kia) some folks may have never actually driven an American car. This could be when they start, however, with truly worthwhile daily drivers such as the Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu for starters. The quality and desirability has moved into the the compacts how, with Chevy's new Cruze taking honors for top seller in the segment. The Ford Focus is finally more or less the same as the highly prized European model.

Chevy is definitely selling the historical imagery now, with the iconic 1955-7 models, Corvettes (pretty much any), and the beloved Chevy trucks (Like a Rock, remember?). My family had several Chevys when I was growing up, including a 1960 (first year) Corvair four-door sedan, 1961 Brookwood wagon, 1963 Corvair convertible, 1964 Corvette (Dad, after divorce) and 1968 Malibu (Dad, after remarriage). Of course the metallic blue Corvette was the most exciting, but because it was extremely impractical, it wasn't around very long.

There will be a lot of new cars from Chevy in the near future, including the subcompact Sonic (out now--unrelated to the burger chain) and the even smaller Spark, which will have an electric version. The plug-in hybrid Volt is probably the best representative of "today's Chevy," and although it's a niche vehicle for now, the brand will be pushing in every way to stay relevant to today's and tomorrow's car shoppers.

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