For all the effort we put into the process of buying a car, including making sure it makes a distinctive statement about who we are, the reality is that most cars pretty much look like every other car out there, which may be the unintended message we send these days, now that I think of it. We're all pretty much like everybody else.
It wasn't always thus.
On Tuesday, General Motors announced it would consolidate its brands, close some plants, and fire more workers. Its Pontiac brand, already dying, would be taken off life support. Goodbye, muscle cars.
The economic meltdown may well finish off the brands that gave us a pathway to the nostalgia. We have a looming nostalgia crisis. What will the next generation turn to 30 or 40 years from now?
What will we be oogling at over at the State Fairgrounds or on the streets of downtown St. Paul on those hot summer nights? Old Starbucks coffee cups?
I just hope we NEVER see the day when SUV owners congregate to salivate over their hell-spawned gas guzzlers. From day one they have been a major road hazard, making life miserable for people in normal-sized cars.
The muscle cars may have been gas guzzlers but at least you could see around them, unlike the mobile visual obstructions known as SUVs, minivans and big pick up trucks.
There was NO demand for SUVs: Detroit manufactured that demand with a blend of snobbery, scare tactics, and -- at the end -- a MADD approach (the only way you'll ever see down the highway again is if you're up high in an SUV like everyone else).
Don't let me get started on Hummers....
"What will we be oogling at over at the State Fairgrounds or on the streets of downtown St. Paul on those hot summer nights?"
Don't be silly. Nostalgia itself will change. The hotrodders that oogle are doing as adults the same things they did as kids. Therefore, modern kids will clearly be exercising their nostalgia in virtual fairgrounds online, reliving their more clever facebook posts and fancy moves in Grand Theft Auto.
For a while, the family car was one of those Vista Cruiser station wagons. When it needed to replaced for some reason, dad brought home a Chevelle SuperSport for my mother to drive us kids around, while he zipped about in his little sports car. I remember how she used to snarl "your father!" when she had to try to park it in a tight spot. Good times.
My family had a 1976 LTD which barely fit in our garage. My mom didn't mind it--she was an awesome parallel parker. Still, I don't look back at the old beast with the two giant doors with nostalgia, the same way my kids won't look back at our minivan with anything but disdain! I'm sure they will be telling their kids "we had a giant VAN that ran on GAS."
...At least I hope that will be the case.