My household's fleet of vehicles consists of two 1998 automobiles both with 130,000 plus mileage. As I have mentioned before, cars are functional and do not represent a lifestyle for me. I have never been mechanically inclined and the only thing I know how to do is to check my oil level.
Even with that preface, there are many options for me to consider. I grew up in southern Indiana where people drove Chevrolets and Fords. Even a Chrysler was exotic change that would attract that wide-eyed stare from the locals. We didn't buy furrin'
cars where I came from. I remember my stepsister had an Audi Fox (against my parent's advice) and we had to take it halfway to St. Louis just to be able to find a mechanic to work on it. Japanese cars? Forget about it. Those were "riceburners". You were either too poor to buy a Monte Carlo and/or just not a good American to buy those cars. Remember, we fought a war against them.
I realized how silly these prejudices were then and I certainly do so now. On the other hand, I have never owned a car that was not named Ford or Buick. I do not have any idea as to what my next purchase will be, but I am mindful of the union apprentices who make up the majority of my college course that I teach. They notice what car I drive and I am sure that I'll never be able to show up to class in a shiny, new Honda Accord. I am loyal to unions, but my anarcho-syndicalist worldview doesn't have much in common with the business unionism that is the UAW. I have little sympathy for the workers who looked the other way while management made tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. Why did they look away? The workers were making ridiculously high wages, too. The only losers were American consumers.
I won't buy GM or Ford or German-American Chrysler solely out of patriotic duty either. That's silly. These lines are blurred anyway through globalization, partnerships and transational corporations. If I were base my purchase on those terms, I have more reason to buy a Toyota than any traditionally American automotive company. Toyota has a major manufacturing plant near where I grew up that provides relatively highly paid jobs for thousands of people in my former community. The community desperately needs any type of boost and Toyota has made a tremendous difference in the standard of living for many southern Indiana workers. On the other hand, I am mindful that the same corporation that I praise here did choose to come to my community because they knew that the economic state would allow them to pay lower wages than almost anywhere else in the country.
So this is a lot of navel-gazing over a automobile purchase, but these concepts are foremost in my mind when I step into a dealership. These things I understand far better than meaningless (to me) designations such as 2.0 liter, hp, GT, SS, etc.