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Which of the following events was more jarring? The addition of Elmo to the cast of Sesame Street, or the introduction of a front-wheel-drive Buick Electra? Both events, coincidentally, took place in 1985, and both events were met with a certain amount of grumbling.
Per ride-hailing giant Uber, the company’s drivers provide patrons an amazing 15 million rides daily. And that’s just Uber–similar firms, such as Lyft, Via, and Juno, are shuttling plenty of people around as well.
If you were looking for a diverse collection of affordable sporty cars, you’d probably want to set the time-machine dial for 1984. You would be hard pressed to find a broader collection of fun-to-drive rides at any time other than the mid Eighties.
“What about the Javelin?”
Available between 1968 and 1974, the AMC Javelin would be, based on total production, the rarest of the cars we refer to as pony cars. That said, it’s possible the Javelin is among the most beloved—at least among readers of Collectible Automobile magazine.
Most Americans have a fairly myopic view of the off-road-vehicle world. Ask any of us what the most popular 4×4 on the planet is and you’ll get the answer “Jeep” nine times out of ten. Not that Jeep is a bad answer–the Wrangler remains one of the most capable rock pounders you can purchase–but despite the Jeep brand’s power, there are markets where it isn’t all that well established.
It was in 1975 that Chrysler introduced its first “small car,” the Cordoba. Before that, the brand had never ventured too far adrift from a model lineup of generously proportioned luxury cars that were based on a uniform full-size platform.
When the Smart ForTwo was introduced for the 2008 model year, uninformed detractors of the diminutive two-seater devoted considerable energy to worrying about how unsafe such a small car would be in a crash. Count my mother among them.
Ford Motor Company’s Mercury division was taken from us in 2011. The brand’s demise came during a flurry of marque terminations, and was bracketed by the shutdown of Pontiac (2010) and the final model year of Saab (2012).
Though hard to pinpoint exactly, Mercury’s market position probably hewed most closely to GM’s Oldsmobile division, though both brands drifted at different times between being slightly sporty to being more luxury focused.
If you’re my age (around the half-century mark), you’ve been programmed since high school to fully appreciate the dangers and potentially disastrous consequences of drinking and driving. And, indeed, since I began college in 1983, the legal penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol have become significantly harsher.
In the annals of automotive retailing, there are few–if any–model names that have been applied to more body types or market segments than Mercury’s Cougar badge. Over the moniker’s multi-decade run, it was used on coupes, sedans, station wagons, convertibles, pony cars, muscle cars, luxury cars, and, at the end of its run, a front-wheel-drive sporty hatchback.