Your Favourite Car Maker

Posted on May 8th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Ford,Honda,Makes & Models,Mitsubishi,Opinion,Toyota by Julian Edgar

The other day, on learning that I am an automotive journalist, someone asked me what is my favourite make of car.

I must admit the question rather stumped me. It did so for two reasons: firstly, I can’t see how any impartial automotive journalist could ever admit to having a favourite amongst car brands, and secondly, I am not even sure how anyone can logically have a favourite car maker.

I’ve owned cars made by Alfa Romeo, Audi, Austin, BMW, Daihatsu, Holden, Honda, Rover, Saab, Subaru, Toyota – and many others. I’ve driven cars ranging from Rolls Royce to Porsche to Ferrari. I’ve also driven many Mazdas, Mitsubishis, Volkswagens – and so on.

And really, despite brands developing their images based on specific advertised criteria, I have to say that the idea that certain brands have certain attributes is largely a myth.

I mean, what are the attributes of a Toyota? Do those attributes apply equally to a twin turbo Supra and a hybrid Prius? Surely, to try to find irrefutable evidence of a link between these two cars by driving (or owning) them is impossible. They just happened to be made by the same company.  

And it gets worse – or better. What about models within a car manufacturer’s line-up?

“I like Holden Commodores,” you say.

So I say: therefore it doesn’t matter if the car is large or medium sized; it doesn’t matter if it was powered by a four cylinder engine, a 3.3 litre straight six, a 3 litre turbo six, a 3.8 litre V6, a 5.7 litre V8; it doesn’t matter if it’s lavishly equipped or bare bones – you really like all Holdens that wear a Commodore badge?

If that’s the case, then – to be blunt – that’s pretty weird.

And the further you go into it, the worse it gets.

“I like BMW handling,” you say.

I say:”Really? The BMW X5 I drove handled just awfully.”

Mulling over this, I can think of only the most general statements that might hold true.

Most Mercedes models have had higher levels of safety than their immediate contemporary opposition.

Honda has in general built cars with very good engines.

Lexus cars are well built.

All car models must be assessed on their individual merits. Too many car makers build too many turds for any brand-based assessment to be valid.

16 Responses to 'Your Favourite Car Maker'

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  1. Oosh said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 9:15 am

    The situation gets even more hilarious when you take in to account the amount of badge-engineering that goes on esp. with Holden.

  2. Andrew said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Nissan make sports cars with excellent performance per dollar spent, particularly in the grey import market (in which it competes with many other brands). The bang-for-buck factor of cars like the TT z32, GTR and even GTS-t can’t be matched. Nissan/datsun also have excellent parts interchangeability and are simple to service, which makes maintenance and modification far more accessible and economical.

  3. Howard said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I find it funny when people can’t, don’t or won’t look at things objectively. Simply stating that ABC car manufacturer is amazing and that everything else is rubbish. Normally the kind of statement from someone who only view cars as a form of transport and they tend to have very little knowledge of what make cars tick anyway.
    Ford vs Holden anyone?
    “Jap crap……….”
    I still laugh when people think that those are actual Fords and Holdens running around in the V8 Super Cars, especially when they get worked up when their preferred car didn’t win.
    Quite often an inherited bad habit of ignorance.

  4. Mark said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I have always found brand allegiance a little hard to follow. Some people turn their love of a particular make almost into a religion, and ‘shun the unbelievers’!.

    One thing is certain, the CEO’s and execs of your (insert favourite manufacturer here) don’t love the cars as much as the fans do! They make cars for one reason: to make money! And whatever changes they have to make to their ‘brand image’ to accomplish that, they will do!

  5. James said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Don’t get all high and mighty about V8 Supercars it actually shares more in common with a road car than most other premiere categorys such as F1 and NASCAR.

    The V8 Supercars either have a Ford V8 or Chevy V8, are built off the production floorplan and sheetmetal and utilise Watts linkage suspension which was first utilised in the XE Falcon. A lot more convincing than a “F1 engineered” Toyota Aurion or NASCAR Camrys competing with RWD and 5.7L V8’s.

    I think very relevant to this blog is a recnt program on catalyst regarding whether too mmuch choice can actually make you sick.

    I used to agonise over what car I wanted. But now I only buy Fords and Mazdas. You might call me mad but I’m very happy, don’t miss out on anything and get to paticipate in Ford vs Holden tribalism which can actually be quite fun.

    Watching footy is a lot more interesting when your supporting a team is it not?

  6. Luke Konynenburg said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Not sure I concurr with the BMW example. I totally agree: an X5 doesn’t handle like a sports car, and a 316i compact doesn’t go like one – but I think its fair to say compared to their competition in the respective category, they are more biased towards sharp handling and accurate steering (i.e. better) than their competitors. Sometimes at the expense of ride quality. ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ may be a stretch, but every BM’r I’ve driven has been able to bring a smile to my face – even that 316i!
    I could sit here and pick at manufacturers all day – they’ve all made dogs (eta-engined BMW anyone?) – but I believe some things are constant – the interior of an AUDI is generally a very nice place to be, Alfas usually have ‘character,’ Benzes are safe and typically technology leaders, and Toyotas are usually reliable. I can understand why you as a journalist wouldn’t wish to claim a brand allegience, but please don’t demonise the rest of us for having our favourites.
    I have favourite power tool brands too – it’s generally about expectations being consistently met – be they price, performance or reliability. I don’t think cars are any different.

  7. Howard said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    James, when did I get high and mighty?
    Given the massive amount of re-engineering and the lack of mechanical resemblance to the car they are suppose to be advertising, can you really call them a Ford or a Holden?
    Ford and Holden Sports Sedans……… 😀

  8. James said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    More than I can call a F1 Race Car a Toyota Aurion……………………..

    I would like to see a production series but all the do gooders *cough* Harold Scuby *cough* means this will be unlikely unless you want the “supercar scare” all over again.

    Plus V8 Supercars is one of the most succesful formulas in the world. Much more succesful than Group A or Group C.

    The thing is that race fans love V8SC while car fans hate it.

  9. Andy said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I agree Howard. Whilst they may share floorpan and some exterior panels in shape, the bodies provided for racing use are far lighter than those used in production (at least they wewre a few years ago). Also, beyond each firewall any resemblance to the original car disappears. How many BF/VEs have you seen with a live rear axle, tubular double wishbone front suspension and a 5L pushrod V8?

    V8 Supercars represent the production model only to those too ignorant to realise otherwise. (ignorant used for its real meaning, not as an insult)

  10. Howard said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    The racing is great, the association is the problem.
    I agree that only some tosser in marketing could link an F1 car to a Toyota Aurion, but it’s not like Toyota have done some sort of ridiculous computer animation where they imply that the mechanical make up under the Aurion is an F1 car. (Like the old Mitsubishi Lancer coupe being linked with the Evolution Lancer rally cars adverts).
    Toyota engineering is, however, involved in F1. If they get useful data from that, that flows into main stream production cars, then that’s great. I do, how ever, believe that most of F1 to be just a big fat form of advertising.
    Have there been any improvements in Fords and Holdens as a direct result from V8SC? Probably not.
    Like F1, it’s along way removed from the real world.
    What was the subject again?

  11. Howard said,

    on May 8th, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Sorry, I forgot to add my agreeance to Mark’s comments.
    It’s an image, a business and a proffit, not a passion.

  12. Luke Konynenburg said,

    on May 9th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    You want to see real-world relevance in racing? Give them 200litres of fuel each to do the Bathurst 1000 – however they want to make it happen. Same for F1. Let the world’s best engineers (with the biggest budgets) decide the best option for economy and power. You’ll see some trickle-down then…

  13. doctorpat said,

    on May 9th, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    To have a favourite car maker, you would need them to
    a) Have a very small, very similar model range
    b) Either be a new company or explicitly restrict your comments to “based on their current line up”.
    So based on that, I’ll have to say Maclaren.

  14. Jake c said,

    on May 10th, 2008 at 8:22 am

    I am sure people probably have there favourite car decided for them via their parent, We’ve all seen many kids dressed in various car makers apparal, And i doubt they chose to wear it, but buy the time they are choosing cars… They might just still be choosing that brand.
    Yes alot of people like nissans, and you can’t deny the skyline, cefiro and silvia range offer great bang for buck, however the import toyotas are closing the gap. though while they are good cars, i’m sure you’ll have to admit that they would not be as popular or cheap if it was not for jap imports.
    Alot of people seem, in general to be closed minded about the car scene, they like to stick to what they know, be whatever that is.

    Yes a like a certain style of car, but i am not to fussed who makes it.

  15. Morgan said,

    on May 13th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    My favourite car brand is Morgan. LOL

  16. Andrew said,

    on May 14th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    I agree re: toyota’s reliability. Sure, the TT supra is not going to be quite as reliable as a corolla, but considering the age of the 2jz, the power in absolute terms, and the specific power output – well there’s no comparison. It is the one engine I would rate above the rb26 in that regard. Bullet proof bottom end, they stand up to abuse and keep going and going.

    Some of the jap imports have obtained bad reps due to poor maintenance but I definitely subscribe to the toyota = reliability theory.