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What Do the Germans Know About Making Cars, Anyway?!

Here’s a letter of mine appearing in today’s Washington Times:

Cal Thomas is correct to note that government-produced automobiles are no models of performance, style or safety (“Downfall of an icon,” Opinion, Thursday). They truly are hunks of junk.

I remember being in Germany in 1990, not long after the collapse of the Iron Curtain. A German friend told me of a then-recent incident that had happened at night as he was driving on the autobahn. He was cruising along at about 120 mph in his Mercedes when he saw ahead two faint, flickering lights. “Good thing I slammed on my brakes,” he said, “because the lights were candles in the rear window of a Trabant. They were being used as taillights!”

The government-made Trabant, I gather, had a top speed of about 60 mph — and obviously also an unreliable electrical system.

Chairman, Department of Economics
George Mason University

(I thank Geoff Manne for the title of this blog post.)