I saw this ad for the 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix, and I am pretty sure I have come out of it a person anew. This ad is my everything, if for no other reason that it has everything. Car phones. Big hair. Someone who appears to not be wearing any pants. A terrible car. Big hair. Sex? Maybe.
The '89 Grand Prix is one of the true, authentic representations of the 1980s, in all of its forms. From the outside, it's craptacular, the kind of hunk of rusting metal you usually see in more shabby parts of the country, covered in grime and lost dreams. From the inside, it's a dazzling array of big gray buttons and green lights. The engine sweeps all the way to the dizzying height of 5,000 RPM, which is impressive for a diesel, and not at all impressive for a 2.8L V6 that wheezed out an anemically diesel-like 130 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque.
But where the 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix was not really impressive in any way, shape, or form (minus the sheer multitude of steering wheel buttons), this ad is beyond impressive.
It is beautiful, it is profound.
Let's start at the top. Just like Pontiac did. Wait, no. They started beyond the top, beyond the sky, beyond the heavens and all that they contain. They started with the moon:
The moon, or "Luna," in the Latin, has long-heralded literary tradition. Used by Shakespeare as a hallmark of inconsistency, and as the harbinger of the werewolf, here it is clearly meant to be a reference to Cher's beloved Moonstruck, a Nicolas Cage-ian tale of what it truly means to be the 1980s and have big hair and also hang out with Nicolas Cage, who has a fake hand, and is no monument to justice.
And so it begins. BRING ON THE CITY, BRING ON THE NIGHT, a Bob Seeger-esque people's champion screams at you, and this man shows off what appears to be his Pontiac, and his date laughs at the very thought of it.
The Grand Prix is so hilarious, in fact, that this woman is positively rocked by the mere concept of describing it over her carphone, hand upon head, foot upon headrest, as the foot is wont to do.
"Hahahahaha," she laughs. "Pontiac." The words dance off the tongue, like so many lemmings off a cliff.
There is a manual transmission, which is great. There is also nothing else in this image that is great.
If anyone can explain the existence of this shot, which appears to just be a mix of hair and lustful looks, it would be greatly appreciated. The hair I get, but the look? Who is that look intended for? The car? The guy we saw earlier? Wasn't he taken already? Or did that date go that far south, that quickly? We're only nine seconds in to a thirty second commercial.
Or maybe he's still on that date, and she doesn't care? It just seems like a lot of relationships are going to be ruined here, I dunno, maybe this ad doesn't belong on a family program?
This guy is straight-up running from a burning building, right to his Pontiac. But what's missing here?
That's right, the fire department. It hasn't arrived yet. Which means this man knew that this fire was about to happen.
Because he set it.
Now, I'm not saying that Pontiac liked to advertise that its cars were the exclusive choice of arsonists everywhere, but this guy clearly liked his so much that he could do nothing at all but set what appears to be a local art museum completely ablaze.
Production Pontiac Grand Prix (Prixs? Prices?) had labels on the multitudinous steering wheel buttons. But not the one in Mr. Arson's car. Probably because they've all been replaced in function, with the benign commands for the radio volume replaced with requests for flamethrowers and homeowners insurance fraud.
There's a few more shots of the car, and then there's this:
Nothing wrong with that, really. Just two seemingly consenting adults enjoying a bit of physicalities, and that's fine. Well, the lady with the big hair from before might get a bit jealous, but everyone else should be okay with it.
But it's the voiceover that's the problem here.
While that shot is being shown, the narrator is reminding you that you can borrow a Pontiac, do pretty much whatever you want in it, and then return it to a dealer with in 30 days.
Think about that implication, the next time someone tries to sell you a used Pontiac Grand Prix.