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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.
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.
Maybe it was just the prevailing atmosphere of the Eighties, but when the Chevrolet Corvette was redesigned for 1984, it was no longer a muscle-bound sports car. Instead, it was marketed as a high-tech marvel.
Chevrolet’s Blazer model name first appeared on a rugged, body-on-frame 2-door SUV introduced in 1969, and would go on to grace a number of Chevrolet SUVs over the years until it was phased out after the 2005 model year.
I graduated from high school in 1983. The third year of President Ronald Reagan’s first term was pretty good to me—I spent the summer working full time at a service station, I starting taking classes at a local junior college, and I spent a considerable amount of time looking at, reading about, and talking about cars.
There is an air of parsimony to the automotive print ads of 1982. Take in all of the examples and take note of the following:
If you’re looking for proof that 1982 was a transitional year for the domestic auto industry, check out the dealer sales-training video for the then-new Chevrolet Cavalier below. It’s worth noting that Chevy’s cutting-edge front-drive subcompact car is being promoted with two-tone paint and white sidewall tires.
As far as recessions go, the economic dip of the early Eighties wasn’t much of a downturn. Apparently the Fed overdid it a bit, and tightened the money supply a bit more than banks and lenders liked.
The rollout of General Motors’ broad lineup of “X-Car” compact cars for 1980–which consisted of four separate vehicle lines spread across four brands–was a big event in the American automotive industry. Not surprisingly, GM backed up its ambitious new product initiative with a massive presence in TV and magazine advertising.
What makes a vehicle important? Sales, obviously, play a big factor. Any car or truck that sells well can be considered important. And, as it turns out, all of the vehicles on this list did well in the showroom.