After all the endlessly dreary economic news and political scandal emanating from Detroit, it might be tempting to write off the Motor City. But bad news be damned – Detroit remains a legendary city with a huge and enduring contribution to our nation's economic and cultural heritage.
Nine things that we love about Detroit:
1. Desire - Detroit makes the cars that I really want. Detroit makes the only cars that I really ever wanted
2. Tradition - Ford, GM and Chrysler finally learned that their rich heritage is a corporate asset, and have reintroduced some joy back into their product portfolios. Consider the improbable treats available right now at your local dealers:
3. The Ford Rouge plant. The factory where modern mass production was invented and that put a nation on wheels. My `69 428CJ Cougar and `87 Mustang LX 5.0 were both born there. Just thinking about the great iron that surged forth from within those fabled walls makes me dizzy
4. Prototypes - The eyepopping vehicles you routinely see prowling the streets near GM's Warren Tech Center displaying manufacturer plates (e.g. the first CTS-V and ZR-1 models I ever saw)
5. Woodward Avenue - Legendary and reborn in spirit by the nostalgia tinged Dream Cruise.
6. Sports - The Lions are (sometimes) winning and the Tigers made the ALCS in 2011 and World Series in 2012. This is proper. This is as it should be. Mark "the Bird" Fidrych would have been proud, provided the Tigers can step it up...
7. Music - Motown was great, but Detroit's music roots go deeper and much wider. MC5, The Stooges, and Frijid Pink channeled Detroit’s raw industrial energy and preceded the overhyped British Punk era by more than 10 years. Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Bob Seger and the White Stripes. Detroit is all about music.
8. Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport - Fantastic, modern and well laid out. Plus you get a free indoor choo-choo ride with every visit. Us overgrown boys like that a lot.
9. Real - Chrysler's “Imported from Detroit” ads are overplayed but brilliant. Detroit is an industrial city and put vast numbers of Americans meaningfully to work for over 100 years. Chrysler’s ads remind us this is something to celebrate and be proud of. Wall Street probably cannot say the same – now or ever.
We're not naive. Detroit has some very serious challenges ahead, and the city's future is uncertain. All the same there remains a lot to love and respect about Detroit. We'll be back there next month, and I can't wait. There are precious few cities we can say that about.
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