Vintage Editorial: The Industry Is At A Crisis (1981)


Scanned from R&T’s 1981 March issue, these are two very interesting articles concerning the major crisis that the American car industry was undergoing at the time.

The late seventies – early eighties were a very difficult time for the American auto industry. I think the articles posted here have some valuable insight into this crisis best, and are interesting even 35 years later.

First, read Tony Hogg’s editorial, in which he very clearly links the changes that the American society was going through, to the effect it was having (among other things) on purchasing new domestic cars. The issue he addresses has only grown since then, as in so many cases what started in trend-setting California has come to affect the whole country. Also, he addresses the closure of MG at the time:





Related to this was an in-depth article analyzing the American auto crisis at the time further. A bleak, yet very interesting article:






(The eighties didn’t turn out quite as dire as suggested here. And ironically, it was GM that fell the most during the eighties, while Ford and Chrysler enjoyed mostly steady growth. And of course, the imports continued to grow, especially the Japanese. In fact, the 1981 Voluntary Export restriction with Japan was implemented only shortly after this article was published. That was inteneded to protect the domestic industry, but led to unintended consequences: the Japanese could raise prices aggressively, as the market was no longer free. And the large profits that they generated allowed them to invest in new upscale models like the Acuras and Lexus LS400 as well as in transplant factories in the US. Predicting the future is always difficult. – PN)