The idea of slotting a key into an ignition, turning it over, depressing the brake, shifting a gear and opening up the throttle was magical to this child of the 1970s.
What we saw were the results of these measures that shaped the automotive industry in North America in 1982. It wasn’t enough to build smaller passenger cars. There was something else that took place that also changed the way we looked at transportation – for both work and play.
As a writer that focuses on the automobile, this is the question I hate being asked. First of all, it may expose a bias or preference of one brand over another. I’d like to keep biases out of my work as much as possible, unless something rubbed me the wrong way. It also frees up any brand loyalty that would spark major debates with other motorheads as to defend said brand even though I know the arguments against them.
However, one particular story captured the most headlines in the automotive world during the course of 1981-82 school year. When people talked about automobiles, many conversations came up – either positive or dismissive. Yet, you could not ignore it – the commercials were all over and the vehicles were selling. He appeared in a good chunk of his company's spots – with a manifesto on his lips: "If you could find a better car, buy it!"
The turn of the 1970s was a time of transition. It was clear that Richard Nixon wasn't going anywhere. His administration oversaw the first landing on the moon by human beings, but the escalating war in Vietnam dogged his leadership. In 1968, many thought Nixon was the peace candidate for President. He would end up sending more USA troops into Southeast Asia.
Think about the idea of intention and purpose. A designer, an engineer, and an executive – oh, yes, let’s not forget the folks in accounting – are all involved in the process of creating a vehicle. Once everyone signs off on it, they have to campaign for its success. Even the marketing folks have to be on board with selling it to everyone – dealerships, the communications folks, and, ultimately, the consumer.