I'm not buying that differences betwixt make are purely inventions by the press, and a blind willing audience.
Most of it is, the actual differences in number of breakdowns between the best and worst car in any particular class is tiny compared to the number of cars sold. Especially those from the last 5 or 6 years.
Most of the reputation for unreliable or reliable cars is either historic, based on how the dealers treat the customers, how much the repairs cost (and how long they take), what actually failed, how often they actually manage to fix the issue first time (or at all) and things like that. Not if the car is reliable or not.
Some manufacturers are still reaping the rewards of being premium, high quality cars in the 70's and 80's. They can charge a premium for their cars, provide a better service (as they are making more money/car and don't have to discount to make sales) and so on. All whilst selling a car, that to anyone who knows what they are looking at, and what customers really do with their cars, has no more content/technical superiority/performance than your boggo hatch back. But the badge costs an extra 20%.
Don't get me wrong - in the first 2 or 3 years, maybe 5 years, these day, with new cars, I'll buy, there's probably not much in it.
But at that point in the thread we were talking about cars from around 2003 / 2004.
And bearing in mind, the post I was replying to, he started off saying he wouldn't touch a certain make, then concludes saying there's no bloody difference.
Point being, breakdown stats will just show that - breakdowns. Now whilst I don't want to let down by any car like that, there's a whole load more to the ownership experience than just that.
Of course, condition matters, as does how it's been maintained. And of course, everybody has an opinion, and will (whether we recognise and accept it, or otherwise) have very natural behavioural and cognitive bias because of our own experience. "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are."
With older cars, you're not necessarily talking about catastrophic failures that are going to leave you stranded at the roadside, you're really considering those things that are going to leave you with more pain at MOT time, or niggling little problems that keep sapping the life out of your view of the car, as time progresses. Some cars have certain tendencies to certain things failing or wearing over time. Some cars have some design flaws or weaknesses that mean some failures or problems are likely over the time axis.
And yes, I buy, that some marques, and some peoples' opinions on marques are coloured by, and still living from / trading off an earlier era where there was truly some notable difference in quality.
Brand new - I'll buy, yes, there's probably nothing huge, other than mainly luck - and perhaps quality control and some aspect of maintenance that'll leave you stood at the side of the road. With cars older cars, though, and I'm not buying you can totally remove the marque / model from the equation. Sure, condition, maintenance and how it's treated are probably significant factors - but it's a stretch to just say breakdown figures show no significant trend, therefore cars that are around 8-10 years old, all other things equal, are much of a muchness.
Of that sort of age, I know there are makes / models I'd consider - accepting evaluation of condition and maintenance - and others I'd not touch with a bargepole, whether looked at, or otherwise - and that's not based on aesthetics, I rarely let that get in the way, when I'm considering a car.
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