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Car of the Year

Car of the Year

If you found your way to Cars Unfiltered, you're likely familiar with Motor Trend's Car of the Year award. This year, at the L.A. auto show, the powers that be named the Alfa Romeo Giulia as the recipient of the honor - impressive, since the company has only been back in the states for a couple years. Additionally, the Ford F-150 is the truck of the year. 

I haven't driven the Giulia or the F-150 (this year's variant anyway), so I can't comment on whether the accolade is warranted or not. Instead, let's look a bit at the award itself.

The Car of the Year award has been handed out nearly every year since 1949, where it went to Cadillac Motor Division. Yes, you read that right. The first winner of the Car of the Year award was the department responsible for designing Cadillac engines, not even the cars themselves. In fact, the first car to win the award didn't show up until 1958, when the Ford Thunderbird took top honors. The last time a manufacturer division was recognized was in 1965, when the Pontiac Motor Division won. Bear in mind that Pontiac was a separate division entirely back then, designing everything for Pontiac without cross-collaborating with Oldsmobile, Chevy, Cadillac, or any other GM brand. There are still purists who love the Pontiac engines of the time.

As I peruse the list, there are some interesting cars that pop out as duds by today's standards - 1974's Mustang II, the 1975 Monza 2+2, the Citation of 1980, and the K-cars of Chrysler in '81, the PT Cruiser in '01, and 2002's Ford Thunderbird, the retro one. Though a few of these sold well (looking at you PT Cruiser and K-cars), they're all remembered as pretty lackluster cars. Which leads to a question: Were these really the best cars based on the criteria? Or is Motor Trend pandering to its audience/advertisers? 

It's entirely possible that these are the best cars of those years, as one of the requirements is that potential selections must be new or significantly refreshed, and another is that the car must not have been produced for the last 5 years. That's why you won't see the same car on the list 2 years in a row. 

It's also entirely possible that Chrysler, or Ford, or GM, or Toyota, or anyone else bought a significant amount of ad space in Motor Trend publications that year and the bean counters told the reviewers not to mess with their big accounts. We all know that happens, so it's a possibility. That said, we'll never be able to confirm that. 

So Alfa and Ford, enjoy the win! you deserved it. Just like the Chrysler Cirrus did in '95.

 

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Let's Talk CAFE Standards

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