Everything about this (I think) 1972 Chevrolet internal corporate film is depressing and weird. The background music sounds like the band from a forgotten Village beatnik bar at 3 am, and the narrator sounds like Frank Sinatra half-heartedly laying into you for never picking up a check. It’s basically 15 minutes of GM pissing and moaning about how many imports are selling in America, and how it’s all because you aren’t working hard enough.
What makes this really incredible and a great reminder of how far off the mark Chevrolet was about this is the car they keep showing as what Chevy could be taking over the world with, if only you workers would show up for your damn shifts:
Yep. The Vega.
The Vega was an absolute disaster for GM, and while the quality control was an issue, the Vega had engineering problems right from the get-go. The engine’s design, with its cast-iron head and aluminum block caused challenges that were not compensated for with the poor cooling system, excessive engine vibration, and more.
Body metal was thin, rustproofing was inadequate, the whole car was a hastily-engineered and rushed shitshow. The problem was not worker absenteeism, yet this film gives us such lines as
The film hand-wrings over all of the Volkswagens and Datsuns being sold, and for good measure frets about other industries, too, consumer electronics and motorcycles, for example.
There’s lots of interesting period details here, too, even beyond all the great shots of cars. The want-ad searching scenes are show how strange and unfair looking for a job as a woman in that era must have been:
Oh boy, you could be an Attractive Girl Assistant or whatever the hell a Salad Woman was.
This whole video is pretty shameful, in hindsight. It notes that tariffs aren’t a solution, and keeps a tone of constant anxiety, all while squarely blaming low-level office workers and factory workers without ever really addressing the issue that people were buying cars other than Chevys because Datsuns and Toyotas and Volvos and Volkswagens were cars people actually wanted.
Here, watch for yourself. It’s kind of fascinating.
Just don’t get too depressed before the weekend. Chevy’s still around! Things weren’t quite as grim as they made it seem, after all, because, eventually, they did adapt.