The Non-American American Car
Some things are inherently American.
Think of things like Mt. Rushmore, Kentucky and the Heart Attack Grill. These are representations of Americana that showcase our country as it exists today. We love our history, our freedom and our food. And, of course, we love our cars.
There’s a new list of the most “American” cars of 2014 that includes Hondas, Toyotas and Chryslers among the Fords and Chevys of the world. I find it interesting when foreign-owned brands get named on lists like this, as it blurs the line between the domestics and the imports.
The story begins with Alfa Romeo and Mazda, which were in talks to combine forces to create a new platform for the Miata and a new Alfa Romeo Spider. Those talks have dissolved, with FIAT, the owner of Alfa, deciding to build its own platform.
Normally, a project like that for a relatively low-volume car wouldn’t make financial sense. Since FIAT now also owns Chrysler and Dodge, the Mazda partnership was no longer necessary. Alfa’s plans are still on track, though, with the new Spider set to debut in the next two years. It will use a rear-wheel-drive platform that will be modular, offering FIAT plenty of flexibility in its use. The platform, in an effort to spread development costs, may also serve as a starting point for a new Giulia and two new crossovers supposedly due in 2017, and it may even underpin the next-generation Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger/Challenger.
This raises an interesting philosophical question:
Would the all-American Charger still be American if the maker is owned by an Italian company and based on an Italian platform?