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On The Road With Johnny B ...Not Learning From History

As Winston Churchill said in a 1948 speech "If we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it" Ole Winnie was a real smart Bloke. I'm sure his words were not meant for decades away gas shortage. His words were intended for a war ravaged Europe that if unchecked and not learning from history another Mad Man could rise to power.

Fuel shortages or rationing were perhaps one of the key factors in the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor. FDR had sanctioned Japan due their aggression in Asia. Besides seizing assets they held in the USA FDR turned off Japan's oil supply. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor it was in an attempt to control Asian waterways, cripple the American fleet and turn back on the oil spigot. On the day they bombed Pearl Harbor Japan was less than 45 days away from being out of oil. Funny what people or even a nation will do to get much needed crude oil.

Moving thru the years the USA became fat, foreign dependent on oil, built massive gas guzzling road hogs, grand highways to move these behemoths and why would we care? Fuel was plentiful, gas was 35 cents a gallon and the American Car Companies ignored the need for a good small car.

In other parts of the world such as Germany and Japan (our former WWII foes) fuel was not so cheap. In fact 3 to 4 times that of Ethyl in the USA. This forced companies such as VW, Datsun and Toyota to build good small cars. Sure the VW Beetle become and icon and a Hippie Mobile. By the late 60's and early 70's Datsun's and Toyota's were look upon as odd and quirky. They sold in small numbers.

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military and to gain leverage in the post-war peace negotiations. In other words they turned of the spigot.

All the fat and bloated iron land yacht's we all drove became less about the open road and more about begging for fuel in soon to be imposed "Odd and Even" license plate days. What this meant was you could only get gas on days that the last digit of the plate had. In other words #2 at the end meant you could get gas on even days like May 4th. Gas prices quadrupled in a short time. From 35 cents to over a dollar a gallon. In an early 1970's economy it was Depression Era like in it's effect

The other problem was we (the USA) had no GOOD small cars to offer a now gas starved public. Sure we introduced the Explode A Matic Pinto and the Engine Eating Vega but nothing to rival the reliability, economy and durability of the VW Beetle, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Datsun 510. Besides this these little charmers drove with verve, style and something new to American car buyers sports car handling. Once we open the door to Japan, Korea and Germany we were never able to close it. Slowly and like erosion Japan tore down the American Car makers with good products that became a part of our landscape. GM, Ford and Chrysler never recovered. The only guy who kinda figured it out was Lee Iacocca. The K Car wasn't to bad but it was no Corolla.

Fast forward to today. The USA Auto Industry after government bailouts, semi cheap fuel, getting rid of historic makes like Oldsmobile, better products but still no GOOD small car compared to Japan and now Korea is doing good. Perhaps not a fat and happy as the 60's but still fat.

Not learning from history Ford announced it will be dropping all car production except for the Mustang to concentrate on Pickup Truck and SUV vehicles.

Not Learning from history GM announced the closing of many factories. Of those most were for building small cars such as the Chevy Cruze. Ya see GM wants to concentrate on Pickups and SUV's

Not learning from history Chrysler (or whatever they are called these days) stopped importing the excellent 200 from Fiat. Leaving showrooms filled with bloated Pickups, SUV's and Muscle Cars.

Funny how Japan, Germany and Korea have increased production on GOOD small cars. Seems when gas prices go up they will yet again be poised to pounce. Yet again opening a door we may not be able to close.

As Ole Winnie said " "If we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it" The good news is when the next gas crisis hits Y'all can get a real great deal on an F350

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