April 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment
A headline in the April 8 edition of the Wall Street Journal read: “Ford Takes Online Gamble With New Fiesta.”
The story is about a Ford initiative to loan 100 young people a Fiesta, then allow them to post YouTube videos, tweets and other social media messages about their experiences. Ford allegedly has no control over the postings. It’s a bold experiment, but a good one given one big “if”: If Ford is confident enough in the coolness and quality of the car.
I’m pulling for Ford in a big way, just like I still pull for my ex-hometown Orioles. Like me and the O’s, Ford and I have had our ups and downs. Well, mostly downs.
The first car I owned was a used 1965 Mustang, a classic. Rode like a charm. But in about the third year of ownership, the floor behind the driver’s seat fell away, leaving just the carpet between a backseat passenger and the pavement. Friends suggested removing the carpet and powering the car by foot, ala a Flintstones car. Then, the passenger-side window refused to close all the way during the coldest winter in years. I’m convinced that this contributed to my months-long celibacy that winter.
Lap of luxury
After the Mustang, I had a grand experiment with a slightly used, huge Ford LTD. I was in the lap of luxury, riding on pillows with a front seat that stretched door to door. The car was stolen once when I was attending a new-wave show at The Marble Bar in The Congress Hotel in downtown Baltimore, but fortunately recovered in New Media, Pennsylvania. I’m sure the thieves enjoyed the luxurious ride, and the LTD had a killer sound system. The good times ended when the gas crisis of the early 80s hit and I traded in my limo for a Ford Pinto.
The tar-pit Pinto
Yes, you know the Pinto by reputation; the one that burst into flames if hit from behind. The one with the bone-jarring suspension. My Pinto had a rarely documented problem: on hot days it would leak tar from a seam in the doors, as if a spore from the La Brea Tar Pit was embedded during assembly.
When will he ever learn?
Seemingly without capacity to learn from my mistakes, my first brand-new car was a Ford, a 1985 Mustang. They made ‘em like they used to. Among the problems: a back end that became disengaged from the front of the car, leaving me a mile away from home at 2:30 a.m. in front of a laundromat where a murder occurred the previous week; massive transmission malfunctions; cruise control getting stuck (and fortunately unstuck) seconds before exiting a freeway; a twisted fuel line that delayed our arrival in our new home in North Carolina; and a broken front bucket seat.
Carrying the torch
I drive a Volkswagen now, but I still follow Ford. I wallowed in shame as they staked their claim on huge trucks and SUVs. But lately, I’ve been cheered by a small hybrid SUV, good reliability ratings, and the promise of the little Fiesta (despite the fact that it’s forefather was as wretched as the Pinto).
Call me a fool, but if Ford calls, I might just open the door to my heart and come runnin’ back.