CAR QUIZ; What our readers told us

Raymond F. Spencer, Newport News, Va.: If Japanese carmakers are responsive to American buyers and Detroit is not, should we buy American anyway and thus encourage this unresponsiveness?

Glenn C. Johnson, Essex, Conn.: Instead of just faulting Detroit, we need to look at the overall picture and consider what effect the purchase of a Japanese (or other import) car has on our economy.

Thomas E. Dawson, Akron, Ohio: All I can say is that I try to buy US whenever possible, even though I may have to pay more. I consider this an investment in my job and in my future pension.

Michael Gibbons, Atlanta, Ga.: Trade problems would be readily solved if the American car companies would design and produce good, well-designed, efficient cars.

Glen Gathers, McKean, Pa.: The fact is American auto builders don't build the right cars.

Norman A. Walter, Red House, W.Va.: I believe there has been a great improvement in US cars and in the makers' desire to please. My present car, a Plymouth Reliant K, is evidence of this. Free competition, I feel, will give all of us more confidence in future purchases.

Herbert Heubsch, Laguna Beach, Calif.: I am dismayed to see that the US manufacturers still haven't gotten the message. They're still building big cars.

Alex Callas, West Bloomfield, Mich.: Don't we owe it to our automakers at some point to step in before the damage is irreparable. Aren't we on the same side?

Emily McWilliams, Shreveport, La.: The Japanese ''built a better mousetrap'' and we priced ourselves out of the market. It's that simple.

Dr. Jane H. Curry, Castro Valley, Calif.: My only complaint [after buying a 1980 Datsun 210] has been the poor quality of service provided by the dealer. As with American dealerships, he is more interested in selling cars than keeping owners and buyers.

Charles Bickecki, North Syracuse, N.Y.: If they (the US automakers) cannot compete for a share of the market, let them go bankrupt. Someone else will fill the gap.

Harold Sharon, Glastonbury, Conn.: My modern, everyday cars are American because they are the most for the money.

Terry L. Boyer, San Diego, Calif.: In 10 years I've spent $60,000 on foreign cars. That's how I protest against our auto industry.

Sarah Bird Wright, Midlothian, Va.: (US auto manufacturers) need less glitter , more imagination, and a passion for precision.

M.A. Stephenson, St. Louis, Mo.: Japan is unfair in using a variety of ways to block American sales in Japan. However, I am not in favor of US barriers on Japanese imports.

Joseph G. Vincent, Clark's Summit, Pa.: There isn't a thing this country can't manufacturer equal to or superior to any other.

Frank Weiler Jr., Huntington, W.Va.: The American industry, labor, and government have to start working together as the Japanese work together.

R.L. Mosena, North Blue Hills, Maine: The mentality of (US) management needs to be more humble, more willing to serve, to be adaptable, more innovative. Then it will be truly competitive.

David E. Jolma, Portland, Ore.: I have a Japanese car. It gets excellent fuel economy and is fairly reliable, but the parts are about twice as expensive as similar American auto parts. I will not buy another Japanese car. The Japanese are going to have to realize that trading is a two-way street.

Jack B. Wieler, Taylors, S.C.: Competition is the spice of life.

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