AMERICA’S SPECIALIST MARKET
Lt.-Col. Frank Spier, who writes you so interestingly about the reliability of American cars, is quite typical of many people in the U.S.A. They buy their ears for transportation and the car that will get them from A to B in the shortest time with the least effort on their part is the car for them. They buy their cars new, run up a big mileage every year, and get rid of them when the ears themselves have done but a comparatively small mileage. They can do so economically because the value of a secondhand car in this country is determined almost entirely by its age. They hope and expect that their ears, in the short time they have them, will give no trouble at all. After that, it is someone else’s worry.
Such people cannot ” see ” British cars at all. An Austin A40 or a Hillman Minx will not cover 656 road miles in 13 hours easily ; a Jaguar XK120 will not do it in great comfort ; a Bentley might, but at what a price ! To these people, an M.G. is not a car but a fashion.
But it should not be assumed that Lt.-Col. Spier is typical of everyone in the U.S.A. It is a big country with an awful lot of people in it who use cars, and they are not all alike. There are millions of people who use their cars merely to get to the station, the shops, the beach, and the children’s school. They have never covered 656 miles in 13 hours and have no particular desire or occasion to do so. They appreciate a car which is convenient and handy even if it is not such wonderful transportation.
Then there are thousands, if not millions, who like a car that is fun to drive. They are willing to put up with some discomfort and annoyance, if they have to, as part of the price of their pleasure.
Finally, there are some people, perhaps but a small proportion but still many, who are really fond of their cars. If they have to get a new car, they would like to get one that is not just efficient transportation, but has some of those endearing qualities that appeal to them.
There is a market in the U.S.A. for not just one kind of car but for many kinds, as American manufacturers, who thought otherwise, are beginning to find out. And because there are an many people, the market for even the unusual is not so small. The manufacturer who builds a car to suit the majority has an enormous market—and lots of competition. He who builds to suit only a minority will have a market which is smaller but not really small, and it may well be a better one. 13ritish makers may do better building British cars for the U.S.A. than by trying to build American ones.
All this seems quite obvious, but it is surprising how many people there are who cannot, or perhaps will not, realise it. I am Yours, etc.,
Conn., U.S.A. ELSWORTR H. GOLDSMITH.
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