Every year for the decade I've been with Design News, we've run a photo of a car on the cover of our annual automotive issue. As you've probably noticed, we're doing it again this year. But you probably couldn't help but notice that we ran a photo of an old car. It's a 1997 Lexus.
What's with that??
We wanted a strong visual to illustrate our cover story "The Quest for Imperfection." This exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the automotive industry examines why even older Asian cars are the most reliable vehicles on the market.
While reporting the story, Senior Editor Chuck Murray came across a surprising fact: "The thing that I would never have expected is that imperfect parts can make perfect systems," he says. His article describes what North American and European automakers can do to build vehicles as reliable as a Lexus or Honda. Check out his story on page 65. It's a fascinating read.
There is also an interesting story behind the cover photo itself. As Art Director Chuck Mackey can vouch for, trying to locate a 1997 Lexus in the Boston area to photograph for our cover was a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Possibly it is because these cars are so reliable their owners don't give them up. He tried all of the Lexus dealers in town before he tracked down a '97 model at Tom-E's Auto Sales, a used car dealer on a corner in Malden, MA.
Dan, the gregarious owner, was more than happy to accommodate us. Proving out the premise of our cover story and data from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates, he couldn't say enough good things about the reliability of a Lexus. He explained that he also operates a car leasing business, and that his fleet once consisted of "a bunch of crappy, cheap cars that were always breaking down." Then, he bought a used Lexus. "It cost me a total of only $200 in maintenance the first year," he bragged.
Now, his entire fleet consists entirely of Lexus cars, mostly older models.
So what's your experience been with Lexus reliability, or with other cars you've owned? Drop me a line, and we'll publish your stories in an upcoming issue of the magazine. Just for the record, my ten-year-old VW Jetta has been the most dependable car I've owned. Other than the door locks rusting, it just keeps going and going!
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