"The story behind GM's costly 3rd Gen J-car launch"
I did some pondering just where to drop this post , deciding that it was here that most of the interest is. As the 1st Gens grow ever older with the difficulties sourcing parts and knowledgeable mechanics there just might be the urge to consider taking the plunge toward the 3rd Gens as an easier model to maintain.
This is a neat look inside the the GM powerhouse back in '94-'95 as they experimented learning the Japanese style of production and trying to apply some of those lessons. What one culture masters, another struggles with. I found a lot of this very interesting and could see that GM didn't plan to keep the 2nd gen around as long as it did - in fact had things worked out according to plan, the 2nd Gen could have basically been a 1st Gen Phase 2 lasting from '88 to '91! Learning this , I can only wonder how worn out the dies had to haver been by the Summer of 1994 - especially the the all to familiar and high production 4 Door Sedan Bodystyle.
I never have found actual 3rd Gen production totals listed, and I guess the problems in this article had something to do with that. Who wants to shoot themselves in the foot! It was bad enough that Japan produced a far better and popular machine , GM had to compound their woes by basically shipping out crap an small numbers by an indifferent system from the very same building that gave us the Vega in the 70's. That is true irony, Yes?
I remember one story about G.M. sending an efficiency expert to a plant in Long Beach that built Firebirds in the 1970s. He also suggested pulling a cord to stop production if something went wrong and to eliminate segregated parking for executives at the plant. He was chased out into the parking lot and told not to return. Angry workers used to seal coke bottles in the doors of cars just to show their displeasure, according to the article.
Why can't Americans build high-quality cars? Because of our culture, I am often tempted to say. You are either born being a nut about quality and details - like the Germans and the Japanese - or your not. You can't graft it on (see: Americans, Italians, French, British...) The best you'll get outside of a culture that highlights quality and workmanship is "good enough."
So what happened in America after the 1950's? Before 1960, Americans built quality products that the rest of the world envied. In my opinion it was the union entitlement that Hugh speaks of and not our culture. If you have union protection you can stick coke bottles in doors and get away with it. If it was a non union shop you would be fired on the spot.
Sadly it is all about profits and greed nowadays. Most of the bananas go up to the big monkeys and there is no concern for the people that make this stuff nor the ones that are buying it. Get it together and off the assembly line and make those account books as green as possible. I guess this culture was nurtured by the buyers themselves over the decades of shopping for the best deals possible. I got to admit that "Good Enough" ranks very high society in this day and age. I don't think the Unions have much if any teeth in this day and age to accomplish much more than to simply keep their system alive and drain the members dwindling resources. Everyday more and more automation comes online somewhere in a plant in this country. There is little need to keep the common worker satisfied when the goal is to eventually replace them all with machines. Ironically, the demand for automation is constantly driving the cost down - of the very machines replacing the workers. Each year it will just get cheaper and more efficient to automate. In a way human beings are like old incandescent light bulbs just waiting to be replaced with LED bulbs. When you walk into a Dollar Tree and browse around the rows and rows of stuff being mass produced for next to nothing - ask yourself how on earth can they make all this stuff, and ship it to the store you are walking around in- and even pay for all the overhead and hired help in there for just $1. Every year those stores get bigger, and the variety continues to grow. None of any of this seems consistent today with the price of the Automobile getting so high that banks offer 7 and 8 year loans to pay the damn thing off - not to mention the necessity of buying Gap Insurance to cover the upside down equity involved the minute you drive off the lot. None of this involves even a hint of quality nor workmanship- possibility a soon to be forgotten think along with common sense in this day and age.
Those $1 stores mostly don't buy anything direct, they have purchasers that are very good at their jobs along with logistics people that find production overruns, closeouts, stores that go out of business and even middlemen that go out of business to buy from.
What amazes me most is the supply chain for food has so many middlemen. I can't believe it's better for stores to buy from them instead of more directly.
Cars may be more expensive today, but they also last three times longer or more than the old stuff when put through the daily grind. Our J bodies are wonderful, but take any car and drive it daily for 20 years and it would be difficult to keep it going. All of our Js have low miles (120,000) on mine, and over 30 years, that just doesn't happen to a daily driver.
Wayne S. I have to disagree on the (cars lasting).We have a a 1998 Honda accord with 266k and still runs Fine! Granted the driver side cv joint blew out and damaged a lot of stuff.I have the lhs done with loads of work done with new parts! I will say the cv joint failure on the driver side blew out the lhs cv joint and strut on the rhs as a result..I am soley fixing the said problems on this ride and cleaning it up and selling it as is! I will say in short if you take care of a good quality car it will last for years. Domestic or foreign they can last depending on the brand and care in my thoughts.Just my take and yeah I do love my 1st gen.