Yes but Watt the F?
Don't start me on that topic. The worst vehicle by far that I ever owned was a Volkwagen Vanagon. My wife really liked it because we had small children at that time and she could buckle them in their car seats while inside the vehicle during inclement weather. I, on the other hand, spent a lot of time on, under, or in that vehicle fixing the multiple problems, many of which were recurrent.
I swore then that I would never own another Volkswagen. One of my daughters has a Jetta that she's been pretty happy with. I've chosen not to disown her for buying it.
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The SEC is not amused.
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Back in the 80’s I managed facilities for a large-ish computer company, long since defunct. One of my duties was to manage the company fleet, consisting of 3 service trucks for maintenance purposes, 6 cars that the VIPs and sales guys drove and the mail van.
We had 8 buildings scattered all over town and the tired old Chevy mail van racked up a lot of miles. Not many issues with it, but when Triumph Adler (a division of Volkswagen of America) bought us we got a shiny new VW water boxer Vanagon. (We also got a fleet of Audi 5000s which will be the subject of a later post, along with a flotilla of gawdawful Adler typewriters.)
That van was remarkable for the number of issues it had, and the amount of time it spent behind tow trucks dragging it in to the local dealer to get it running again. The Audis had issues (“unintended acceleration”), and my own VW Rabbit was constantly beset with the weirdest problems, but that miserable van beat all. To this day I can’t imagine what they were thinking when they released it for production. Every month I had to justify overruns in my fleet maintenance budget, even though the van was under warranty. No one wanted to hear why.
When another company bought us the fleet cars were replaced with mid sized GM station wagons, including the mail van. By that time the company was in decline and there wasn’t much mail so we didn’t need a van. The wagons were generally crappy but ever so much better than the VW stuff.
Never bought another German car and I never will, although I still lust after a Unimog.
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God saved me from buying a Volkswagen in the early '90s.
I learned to drive on a '72 Bus. It mostly ran fine. Most of the problems we had were induced by the dealer's shop. One time my mother took the Bus in for routine maintenance the week before we were going to take a family road trip. The day we were pulling out of the driveway it was raining. The windshield wipers didn't work. We spent the first few hours at the dealer. It was a wire the mechanic knocked loose.
We rarely kept the middle seat in... we just had a bunch of blankets and pillows on the floor (look at that from the perspective of a high school kid). A few weeks after I got my driver's license, my brother totaled the bus. Since we were down to a family of three after my brothers had moved out, my mother replaced the bus with a Honda Civic (look at that from the perspective of a high school kid -- who was not previously learning yoga).
When I was in college, I bought a '65 Beetle for $100. The engine itself was just fine. The starter rarely worked. There was a leak in the brake line, so you had to remember to pump the brakes the first time you wanted to stop. Like most old bugs, the floor pans were rusted through (insert Flintstone's reference here). A year later I bought a '72 Volvo and gave the Bug to the local high school auto shop.
Once I had my first real job, I was on my fifth Volvo (mostly because I sold my fave '76 Wagon when I moved back from the east coast). I got side-swiped and after that the driver's door didn't open and close properly. I started shopping for my first NEW car. In the early '90s, there was a strong anti-Japanese sentiment (they were kicking our industrial tuchus) so I was trying to buy a non-Japanese car. I looked at everything else. Most of the American offerings were "meh". I looked at the European offerings with my Consumer Reports Auto Issue in hand. I even looked at Peugeots.
The VW Jetta met all of my requirements. What was interesting was that the Jetta and Golf/Rabbit were the exact same car, but one was a sedan, the other a hatchback. Consumer Reports recommended the Jetta. The Golf was down at the bottom of the list with Yugo and Chrysler products. What was the difference? The Jetta was built in Germany; the Golf in Mexico.
I went to a local dealer that carried VW, BMW, and Subaru. I also looked at the BMW 318i. I asked the salesweasel about that first and he looked at me and said "oh, the beginner's model". He then asked if I knew how to drive a stickshift. Wow... two insults in the first ten seconds. The first car we drove was a VW Fox. This was the cheapest car VW made. $8000. Echt Volkswagen. You had to downshift to third gear to get it on the freeway. As we were out for the test drive, I mentioned that I was shopping for my first ever new car. The salesweasel asked "so, is your company buying this for you?" Another swipe... he was telling me I couldn't afford one of the cheapest cars on the market. Do these arseholes really think that insulting people is the way to make a sale??? We got back to the dealership. I told him I wanted to drive a Jetta. He gave me a key and told me to be back in ten minutes. Clearly I was not worth wasting any more of his time. if he had not been an arsehole, I would have bought the Jetta. The next nearest VW dealer was about 15 miles away.
About that time Saturn started selling their first cars. Consumer Reports would not recommend them... they would not recommend any new car without a track record after they got burned having recommended the Chrysler K cars. But they said "it looks decent" and there was press coverage about the company, the union relationship, and the fact that 96% of the content of the car was made in the US and most of the remaining 4% was from Mexico. I bought one. It was the same price as the VW Fox. I owned that car for 11 years and loved the heck out of it. I had a few problems, but the dealer fixed them quickly, even after the car was out of warranty.
Saturn's owner satisfaction was around number three of all brands, up there with Lexus and Acura, and head-and-shoulders above every other GM division (Cadillac was way down on the list). The GM mothership was not happy about this and killed Saturn's autonomy and everything about Saturn that had yielded the customer loyalty they could not abide. Instead of learning from their success, they killed it.
But I may have gone 15 miles to the next closest VW dealer if Saturn hadn't materialized.
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Click and Clack named the 1995 Mercedes E320 as the all-around best car ever made. I bought an 8-year-old 1995 E320 Waggin'. I loved driving it. I loved camping in it. It was the most utilitarian car I've ever owned... though a near tie with my 1976 Volvo Wagon... the Volvo is a box, the Mercedes has a corner clipped off the back, so the cargo area isn't full-height for its the full length. But an 80" flat box fit between the backs of the front seats to the tailgate. The seats folded FLAT (or popped out in a few seconds) and there was no lip to pull stuff over to get it in and out. It was rated to carry 1200 pounds (compared to about 600 in the Honda Element). It seated seven. I towed my tent trailer with it. It was great.
But the repair bills were eye-watering, even with an independent mechanic.
I would buy another 8-year-old 1995 Mercedes E320 Waggin' in a heartbeat.
My first car - mid-seventies - - was German,. an almost new BMW 2002, their classic car (I saw them on line tonight for well over $10,.000, one with sunroof going for almost $18,.000). I'm sorry to say I abused it while I learned how to use the clutch (those San Francisco hills!)
All I remember is it was always in the shop (at considerable expense). My parents and I were happy to have me bike 5 miles to and from school (and late!),. except that off-campus year witnessed three ghastly murders of young women (quite near me) ,.
That's why they were kind enough to give me their own car,. driven across country. I'm sorry `to say,. I wouldn't have known the difference if they gave me an old VW Beetle instead (only later did I realize what a gem I had),.
At least,. so I've been told,. I'm glad I learned to drive a stick shift first,. but I don't remember much about it except the sky-high repair costs - and I do not think it was all my driving,.
Had a Golf in Israel,. made in Germany I think,. Much less trouble,.
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