A Boomer's Eye View of Cars
Environmental awareness, politics, the oil crisis--and some of Detroit's worst efforts--led a generation to shun the Big Three's cars
The auto industry becomes the engine of America's postwar prosperity; Detroit controls 99.7% of the U.S. car market.
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on the bus; the Civil Rights Movement begins.
Sputnik launched; the technology race begins.
Cadillac tailfins reach their zenith.
Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring; environmentalism is born. Volkswagen ads urge consumers to ''Think Small.''
President Kennedy promotes physical fitness, starting boomers on lifelong craze.
The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and gain instant cult status.
Ralph Nader publishes Unsafe at Any Speed, an indictment of the Chevrolet Corvair. First successful Japanese import, Toyota Corona, hits the market.
Vietnam War protests spread, and assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy reinforce strong anti-Establishment leanings in boomers.
Woodstock music festival; VW bus becomes hippie icon.
Oil embargo leads to lines at the gas pump. In the scramble to come up with cleaner, fuel-efficient cars, Detroit reaches a new low in quality.
Nixon's resignation in the wake of Watergate scandal confirms boomers' suspicions of authority.
Lawsuits alleging Ford Pinto gas tanks explode in rear-end collisions raise safety fears.
Second oil shock; Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca begs Congress to bail out failing carmaker.
Ronald Reagan elected, beginning the ''Dynasty'' era of conspicuous consumption; boomers pay up for fancy labels.
Cadillac launches Cimarron, a gussied-up Chevy Cavalier, in a failed bid to regain share. BMWs become car of choice for affluent yuppies.
Chrysler introduces the first minivan, a kid hauler for boomers that looked nothing like mom's station wagon, marking the start of America's love affair with trucks.
Stock market crash puts chill on consumer spending. Quality is in; glitz is out.
J.D. Power publishes first initial car-quality surveys; finds American cars have 22% more defects than those from Japan. This confirms what boomers have long suspected: That American cars are simply inferior.
Much-ridiculed ''Not your father's Oldsmobile'' ad campaign hits the airwaves.
Toyota's Lexus and Nissan's Infiniti join Honda's Acura in storming the U.S. luxury-car market. All three quickly shoot to top of quality rankings.
GM launches Saturn, its boldest and still most successful attempt to beat back the Japanese. Ford introduces Explorer, igniting the sport-utility craze.
First boomer President elected. Ford Taurus, originally introduced in 1986, becomes best-selling car in America, surpassing the Honda Accord
First boomers turn 50.
Mercedes launches M-class SUV.
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