Commie Imports Make Drivers See Red ...

Commie Imports Make Drivers See Red ...

In an increasingly complex marketplace, it is getting next to impossible to tell a red-blooded American car from the imports. Indeed, it is tough to make a patriotic statement with the bank’s money under these murky circumstances.

For example, some ostensibly domestic cars, like the Dodge Colt, are made abroad. Several foreign brands, like the Volkswagen Golf, are manufactured in the good old U.S. of A. There are even hybrids, like the Corolla FX — the result of a corporate dalliance between Toyota and General Motors.

However, flag-waving Americans will face no such ambiguity in a new model that is expected to invade our shores in the early 1990s—from, of all places, the Soviet Union. The headline in my local paper read “Soviets Plan to Sell Compact Car to U.S. Sounds slightly treasonous, to be sure, but it’s apparently so. All the Russians have to do is work out an agreement with Volkswagen to build an engine plant in the U.S.S.R. so they can meet U.S. emission-control standards (exhaust, it seems, is freer behind the Iron Curtain).

What will the new vehicle be like? The Russians aren’t talking just yet. Oblique hints have leaked out of the Ministry of Red Cars, however. To conform with Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s revolutionary campaign of glasnost, or openness, the new compact will almost certainly be a convertible. Word on the street is that it will accommodate a driver and three fellow travelers. A Soviet engineer, who recently has gone missing, joked that it will go from zero to 60 in the cource of a five-year plan.

The Moskvich, as model is known in Russia, must be renamed to have any hope of appealing to American motorists. The Ministry of Marketing Ploys and Pizzaz has compiled a list of likely titles chosen for their brand recognition value.

As in other fields of endeavor, the Russians are not above “borrowing,” to put it politely, from the West. Leading names for the import are: the Kremlin, The Bug (the KGB is not happy with this one for obvious reasons), Marx IV, and the SS-20 (“this buggy’s as fast as intercontinental missile!”). The last one might not fly, as they say on Madison Aveenue.

Whatever it’s called, the new Red auto will come in only one color, Red. It may also sound a bit strange to capitalist motorists. Like most modern cars, it will talk to the driver, albeit in a bit more authoritative tone than we are accustomed to. For example, as you slide behind the wheel you may hear: “Please to be buckling seat belt … NOW, is non-negotiable!” This will be followed by “Nyet to "Star Wars’” And possibly this: “Doors now closed; please be leaving mind open to inevitable triumph of world socialism.”

Polemics aside, the big question is would Americans ever buy an automobile made in a Communist country? Or, more specifically, would they buy a buggy made in the Soviet Union, since they are already snapping up the Yugoslav Yugo.

I sincerely doubt it. Can you imaging a steel worker from Pittsburgh zipping into the company lot in a Volga or a Potemkin, or whatever Gorby decides to call it. Try to picture Lieut. Col. Oliver North behind the wheel of a shiny new 1992 Soviet Cadre.

No, it will take greater marketing acumen than the Russians have yet demonstrated to overcome geopolitical sales resistance here in the States. How could they compete with Lee A. Iacocca on television, night and day asking, “What’ll be, America, a Chrysler of a godless carriage?”