I know - cars, particularly where they're made, is a complicated matter these days. Some foreign makes are made in the US; some American makes are made in Mexico or elsewhere. But, as the product of a Detroit automotive family, I came to understand that owning an American car was a direct and public statement of support for the industry that made Detroit - and certainly our family - successful. Over the years, of course, the attitude has changed; American carmakers languished away the loyalty of some buyers by producing unreliable vehicles for a while. Some were burned badly enough that they have sworn never to buy an American car again - and they haven't.

But, many of us who did grow up in Detroit auto families had it ingrained that driving an American car was a statement of allegiance to the industry, and by extension, our city, our state, our neighbors. I admit - I have owned two foreign cars in my lifetime. One of them was a Saab - but GM owned them at the time, so I didn't feel badly about getting one. The other was a Toyota-made product, though I bought it used off a west Michigan car lot, which meant the money I spent stayed local. But while I owned that car, the auto bailout took place in Detroit, and I became re-energized in the notion that the nameplate on the back of the car means a lot to the employees of that company - and so I recommitted to making sure the nameplate on my car was American - even if the car was made in another country.

The American carmaker - and American car company worker's - attitude can be infectious. Actor Ben Affleck spent a fair amount of time in Detroit in recent months filming the latest Batman movie, and while he was there, took time to tour some of the car plants. He was so impressed by them - and the workers' commitment to American nameplates - that he went home and traded in his Japanese cars for a Ford and a GM car. Here's the story from Deadline Detroit Business:

I encourage folks to buy the vehicle they feel is best for them. But knowing that an American nameplate makes a statement of support in Michigan for the many families (including mine) whose very livelihoods were made by the auto industry, I applaud Ben for doing what he could to show that support.

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