Let's explore what defines the American car

One of his cars is a Jeep, which is made by Chrysler. He grew up in Europe after World War II, and Smeekes says the car is a reminder of Jeeps that soldiers drove to win the conflict.

He's Dutch, but he says his kids are proud to be Americans. Hence, an American car.

"There's an emotional connection," he says.

Contributing: Barbara Hagenbaugh


Why I drive American cars

Mary Ellen Hoerig Madison Heights, Mich. Vehicle: Dodge Caravan

I have driven Pontiacs for many years. I have always purchased American brands and will continue to buy the cars which will benefit our Detroit "3."

Why? For a number of reasons, the first being I was born and raised in Michigan. My family has always worked for the Big 3, or automotive suppliers or many of the Michigan businesses which are dependent upon the patronage and trade with autoworkers.

Secondly, I believe that the American auto manufacturers have quality vehicles. I had an Olds 98 for about nine years, and I have had the Dodge Caravan for seven years.

Thirdly, I believe one should support businesses in one's community. As trade imbalances (have) increased it is even more important to support the U.S. economy. The profit from U.S.-based foreign automakers does not benefit our economy. It returns to Japan or Korea or Germany or wherever headquarters is.

Lastly, just as the world associated the "cowboy" with the American West, we associate autos — and the world used to associate autos — with the American Midwest. The economy of Michigan has been suffering for many, many years. Other parts of the country have only recently begun to feel anywhere close to the despair, discouragement, anxiety and fear Midwesterners have felt. Give up on the U.S. automakers and you give up on what makes up the "American spirit." You join hands with the Southern senators, some of whom have never been in manufacturing, in cutting the legs off the backbone of this country.

Why do I buy American? I am an American.

Laurie Davis Rochester, N.Y. Vehicle: Chevrolet Impala

I have always driven a Ford, Chevy, Buick or Pontiac. Mainly because I don't buy new cars, so I buy an American car because I feel they are cheaper to maintain. Ironically, my dad sold and repaired foreign cars.

My very first car that I got through a friend of my dad's when I was 16 was a 1963 Ford Galaxie. From that point on, I have always liked to own a car with some "muscle" to it. I've always found a good, dependable American-made car for an attractive price.

Tony Czaplicki Jacksonville Vehicle: Lincoln MKZ

My wife and I feel the quality of the U.S. cars is equal to that of the foreign cars.

Our two most recent purchases were based on the deals we were able to get from dealers. The Lexus dealers wanted sticker price, the Infiniti dealer advertised a car and then went to the bait-and-switch routine, and the Acura dealer harassed us with multiple phone calls. The Lincoln dealer negotiated a price and provided customer service.

I love my Lincoln and would buy another.

Kevin Hill Birmingham, Ala. Vehicle: Buick Regal

I have always been attracted to American cars. The foreign cars were like a fling when I was younger. I thought I wanted them forever, but unfortunately they just don't live up to good ol' American comfort.

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