The one vehicle that was introduced during my senior year in high school played a significant part in my life. It helped shape the first 11 years of my driving life. It's timing could not be any better.
Just like my first car – it was from General Motors.
While the clock continued to tick for the end of 1981, GM indicated that they weren't finished with their flood of new products. Their next step was to introduce a line of mid-sized sedans aimed to eventually replace its already-downsized rear-drive models. The old A-Bodies were GM's bread-and-butter. The Oldsmobile Cutlass lineup was the best selling passenger car in the USA. To replace it would affect sales of the entire company.
The plan was to retain the old rear-drive A-Bodies, but rename them as the G-Cars. That meant a consolidation of several lines across the board. The Buick Century sedan took the Regal name, while all rear-drive Cutlasses were known as Supremes. Pontiac was left without a full-sized car in the USA, so the former Grand LeMans became the Bonneville Model G.
The new A-Bodies rolled out on extended front-drive platforms that appeared to be better executed than the X-Cars. Buick's Century name appeared on their new front-drive mid-sizer, while Oldsmobile adopted the Cutlass name by adding Ciera at the end. Chevrolet introduced their A-Body as the Celebrity, while Pontiac simply used a numeric nomenclature on theirs: The 6000.
Automobiles weren't the only ones affecting the universe in 1982.
In the years after World War II, the way Americans viewed transportation shifted to reflect an overall lifestyle migration from an urban society to metropolitan sprawl. Places that were once agrarian and bucolic became paved with new family housing units and expanding businesses supporting the new suburbs.
To coincide with this move, it was deemed that the current public transport infrastructure would not be the optimal solution for linking these new homes with places of employment. Somehow, the equation came up with money for roads – limited-access ones designed for automobile use, specifically – instead of laying down new streetcar rolling stock beyond a city's terminus. Instead, public transit sought to remove the old streetcar in favor of a bus in induce more flexibility in the transport system.
Buses supplanting streetcars was a drop in the bucket to what transpired during the postwar years. Automobile sales skyrocketed thanks to the suburban migration. To survive in the suburbs, you have to find a way to go from Point A to Point B. The automobile became the primary mode of transport in these new neighborhoods thanks to the G.I. Bill, affordable purchasing options, low insurance rates and very low fuel prices.
There were some consequences to the growth of the automobile.
If divine foreign intervention did not come in time for an American automaker, the company in question would have probably ceased to exist by 1982.
It is an audacious statement to make where history was thwarted to save a company from extinction. We’ve seen this many times over the past 30 years where Detroit-based automakers sought alliances and acquisitions with other automakers around the globe. To recall each one would be a massive effort to digest and analyze. Yet, most of the readers of this site have probably forgotten the scenario that put American Motors on the brink before Renault came in to assist them through most of the 1980s.