This and the global oil crisis preceding it demanded a new practicality and mindset. This watering down of American consumerist expression was recorded for posterity in contrasts such as those between the 1969 and 1979 Ford Mustang. The 1969 year with its near demonic eyes, sharklike mouth with chrome lips and bullnose bonnet bulge exudes animalistic intimidation, beastly, but refrained from thuggery by perfect proportions and a formalising, crisply folded edge which runs from headlight to taillight. The fun and enjoyment of confident masculinity within set parameters. Subliminal connotations of sexual harmony. The Ford Motor Company knew this and in a way so did the men who bought them, and in a different way again, so did the women who found these men so attractive.
1969 Ford Mustang
Toyota's 1977 "Mustang Celica"
The late 60s Mustang was copied by Toyota with their 1977 "Mustang Celica", the 1976 Celica aped the late 60s Camaro, and just as the Ford Mustang reflected the spirit of those who created it, the Toyota Celica reflected the spirit of those who manufactured it. Looking for all the world like someone else's idea. Within ten years the Ford Mustang had been reduced to the emasculated sissy produced in 1979. But 40 years on in 2020 the Mustang thrives as a retro futurism remake of its tough guy ancestor. American mojo is back. The current model Mustang speaks out against the insincerity of political correctness in a usually colourful display of car boy sensuality. A best seller for Ford and hell does it look American.
Within ten years the Ford Mustang had been reduced to the emasculated sissy produced in 1979. A beige tasteless nightmare
By the late seventies personal power became the objective for society at large with Americans witnessing an average of 40 000 murders on TV by age eighteen the handgun became a symbol and symptom of it. Luxury cars such as Lincoln and Cadillac had represented many things but now came to represent primarily one, the idea that power of an unknown quantity is always overestimated, the mafia staff car look with the essential tinted windows. Gone were the powerful engines and enormous lengths, and to compensate for this was a sort of hollow presidential pretense. As the mid eighties came along manufacturers all turned to the same market research companies, they all came up with the same results and all ended up making effectively the same cars, or at least cars that looked the same, in every market segment.
1970s Lincoln Continental - the mafia-staff car look, whoever you may be
The military image finds a market in Australia and the United States in the form of army look dual cab SUVs. They represent a desire to be perceived as powerful and effective. This automotive masturbation is a cameo of empty war propaganda still ringing into the 21st century, the epitome of which is the Hummer. The Hummer was a family sedan with very little going for it other than it looked pseudo military, that is if looking pseudo military is your thing. The allied invasion of the middle east in 1991, fronted by U.S General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Junior. Paid for by Kuwait and Saudi to the tune of 32 billion US dollars, hence the tag rent-a-kill; it was televised to the west as a sort of action drama. This gave a section of the public a taste not of power, but a taste for it as they witnessed allied troops in their Humvee jalopies conquer everything from mud hut villages to illiterate goat herders. The Hummer with its military inspired cube like structure, high ground clearance and bunker style windows gave suburban romance addicts the chance to drive through Los Angeles or Bondi with all the bravado and irreverence of a 19 year old marine as they fought their own imaginary battle with traffic lights, parking lots and the ever present enemy; other motorists. As allied military Hummer drivers lost traction then direction on the desert sands, the urban Hummer driver felt the icy fingers of defeat enter his or her pocket in the form of greedy gas station owners and crafty mechanical specialists attending to an ever growing number of "issues". Having been inspired by the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger cruising Rodeo drive in his Humvee (a real military one) the fantasy returned to the sand from where it was borne as Joe (or Josephine) Soap came face to face with what was another war story.
Fill er up Arnie
The Hummer with its military inspired cube like structure
Since 1999 our biography, expressed as our cars has been largely black white or silver, which are shades of grey. Today cars are advertised in bold colours but sell largely in shade of grey. Popular music today is seldom about school cars politics or much else other than feelings. God help anybody today who offends someone's feelings. A former CEO of Chrysler Australia suggested to me that the confidence of society was reflected in the colours of cars popular at the time in reference to his gorgeous pink 1959 Desoto. Whenever I see a new car in a bright colour the hope hits me that maybe we've turned the corner again. As the world grapples with the implications of Covid 19 we may become more unified as a planet for we are more the same than we are different in regard to virus. As our global welfare hinges on one country after another defeating this virus foes may become allies, now with bigger fish to fry. The books will be written exposing the truths and lies of the pandemic but by that stage most of us won't care enough to read them. As we exit isolation we may do so with a new approach which will be recorded for posterity in the cars that we purchase. There will be much said about these cars which we are about to buy, but only so much can be said about plastic and tin. Of far more importance, and interest is what these cars will say about us not only now, but in twenty, fifty or one hundred years time for it is the cars which have historically told the truth.
Enjoy the drive