Here's What a Normal Commute From Los Angeles Was Like in 1988

Gif: DigitalMovies (YouTube)

We may feel like we remember the past, but I think we only really to record highs, lows, and a few posed pictures in between. That’s why looking back on a long-forgotten moment of mundanity can be so fascinating. Or at least, that’s the best theory I could come up with as to why I was engrossed by this clip of some random dude’s uneventful commute in 1988.

I stumbled on this while trawling the internet for ’80s car clips. I was really thinking more “Lamborghini Countach zooming to synthwave” but clicked on this because I love Los Angeles and even though I didn’t live here in 1988, I am intrigued by its past.


Like, wow, 6:15 p.m. on a Friday and he’s going cruising speed on the 405? Angelinos love to name-drop highways, you might have noticed, and people who live in LA might appreciate this particular footage more than others. But I do really think it’s weirdly interesting to ride (presumably) home from work, listen to the radio, and look at traffic on August 26, 1988... a day on which it doesn’t seem like anything of significance happened.

In 2019 we’re recording and sending pictures and videos of ourselves all the time, but today it’s a lot more about making quips or cultivating hashtag personal branding, whereas it seemed like the “home videos” people were making 20 or 30 years ago were a lot more about personal record-keeping.

This moment of non-performative nothingness in an anonymous person’s life is its own thing, though. It’s just that: a moment. Why did the driver record this? Who is he? We may never know. Regardless, from where I’m sitting, this clip seems like an extremely earnest historical record. Which, like I said, is exactly what makes it so intriguing.

Also–the cars are awesome.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles



Dear Jesus, I remember those stupid suction cup clip boards and other accessories. In the late 80's they were everywhere! People suddenly had car phones and bag phones, and for some reason it seemed like having something to write down notes upon was of critical importance. Whether or not you actually had a phone!

Then there was the massive prevalence of suction cup compass balls. The perfect accouterment to a Thomas Brothers Guide. Which seems like a reasonable idea until you realize you’re in Los Angeles WHICH IS LITERALLY CRISSCROSSED WITH DIRECTIONAL FREEWAYS! HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHICH DIRECTION IS WHAT WHEN THE HARBOR FREEWAY IS RIGHT THERE TELLING YOU? IF NOTHING ELSE YOU SHOULD ALREADY KNOW THE PACIFIC OCEAN IS WEST!!!! Perhaps many people got lost because everyone started using those STUPID RETRACTABLE SUNSHADES THAT SUCTION CUPPED TO THE SIDE WINDOWS NEXT TO SUCTION CUP GARFIELD THAT BLOCKED YOUR VIEWS TO SEE WHERE YOU WERE GOING!!!

Oh, who am I kidding? While 1980's automotive accessories centered around things you could attach to windows with suction cups, they never stayed up thanks to the greasy coating of cigarette smoke tar and air freshener oils that all accumulated on the glass. Perfectly falling off while driving across cloverleaf ramps or other times of when random failure is perfectly timed to be as inconvenient as possible. Which is to say that they were about as reliable as any given Ford SYNC’s Bluetooth connection.