Rose McGuirk's letter ("Top This Quality," Jan. 14), touting her string of Buick LaSabres as a sign of solid American carmaking, made me wonder if I should respond to her challenge that foreign cars might not measure up.
Her current LaSabre with close to 100,000 miles in its first 10 years and going strong without major repairs is commendable, but that's just modest yearly driving. Still, it's a sign that Detroit has abandoned its "planned obsolence" strategy of the 1960s to 1980s that encouraged American car owners to trade in and buy more often before those big repairs set in.
So how do my last four cars since 1980 stack up? My first Honda Civic Wagon was traded in at nearly 180,000 without a major repair. Our 1990 replacement just decided to give up the ghost this new year with its first, but too major, repair for its almost 20 years. Our first Toyota Camry (1983) got traded in at 165,000 when finally showing some transmission wear, and our current 2000 Camry (made in the United States and bought used) is up to 145,000 miles without a major repair. Now most of these are economy or mid-size cars, not in the LaSabre class. Also, I am a tough driver, and I'm not handy and sometimes forget maintenance checks.
So, Ms. McGuirk, sorry to burst your bubble, but I promise you that there are legions of folks who will give you the same report on their "foreign" cars -- that's why they score so high on customer satisfaction and frequency of repair reports. But feel better: A lot of these "foreign" cars are being made in America, too.