I ran across this mesmerizing General Motors production the other day and thought it was interesting that GM definitely internally acknowledged the import threat quite early in the 70’s. I think it gives a lot of context to the time for those that were living in areas where the domestics ruled at the time. If nothing else, the excellent footage of fleets of early 70’s Datsun pickups and workers unloading VW 412s and Audi 100s via dock crane is worth seeing, along with new Vegas folding into their trains. As are the images of small import dealerships such as Stevinson Toyota in Denver, which is now a mega-dealer around here.
Growing up in SoCal, I thought it was normal that the imports seemed to outnumber the domestics on the roads. Not until I was a little older, when I had reason to visit the American MidWest did I realize that the situation was drastically reversed in other places. In high school and college in the 80’s to early 90’s, for example, I did not know a single person that owned a Chevy Cavalier. When I happened to get one as a rental in the early 90’s, I was sort of thrilled, it was a new experience!
GM was obviously well aware that the imports were starting to eat their lunch, and this video is a fine piece of internal education that does two things – First, before travel became very easy and cheap, it explained what was going on at the edges of the country to the internal workforce, much (but not all) of which obviously worked in the MidWest. Second, it verbally acknowledged that the competition was not in fact junk and was in many cases very well built and exhorts the GM workforce to work hard and take pride in their product. Left unsaid but clearly implied was that things needed to improve or the situation would deteriorate more and quicker than it already was.