Posts from ‘Oldsmobile’
There is no longer space in the American new-car marketplace for vehicles with hoods and trunklids that consume more linear space than their passenger compartments do. While I know that the passing of the giant coupe was inevitable, I also lament that automotive designers no longer have a free hand with such large and expressive canvases.
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.
It’s a popularly held position that General Motors doesn’t take enough styling chances—or at least it historically hasn’t. I would argue that there are plenty of Eighties and Nineties examples of rather sterile looking GM vehicles that support this point, but a slate of inoffensive Cieras, Malibus, and Skyhawks hardly tells the whole story. General Motors has, in fact, taken many styling chances over the years–though the results weren’t always positive.
General Motors can lay claim to two of the most noteworthy examples of automotive downsizing. On the success side is the Impala/Caprice redesign for 1977. Leaner and more fuel efficient, the downsized big Chevys found the proverbial market sweet spot, and sold like crazy to full-size-car shoppers looking for something trimmer than they had been driving (but not too trim).
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.
Wikipedia describes a soccer mom as “a married middle-class woman who lives in the suburbs and has school-age children. She is sometimes portrayed in the media as busy or overburdened and driving a minivan or SUV. She is also portrayed as putting the interests of her family, and most importantly her children, ahead of her own.” Per Wikipedia, the term started showing up in the national media in 1982.
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.
By 1986, most parts of the country were enjoying a reprieve from rising gas prices. For the first time in a number of years, petrol was again retailing for less than $1.00 per gallon, with $.99 becoming a popular price point for regular unleaded.
by Don Sikora II
Note: The following story was excerpted from the April 2017 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
Introduced for 1982, the Cutlass Ciera was Oldsmobile’s version of General Motors’s new A-body quartet of family cars with the Chevrolet Celebrity, Buick Century, and Pontiac 6000. All were built on a front-drive chassis largely cribbed from the 1980-vintage X-car compacts. The pricier A-bodies shared those compacts’ 104.9-inch wheelbase, but somehow avoided the X-car’s trouble-prone reputation.