Question for Real Americans

Real Americans (as opposed to newcomers like me), please help us solve this mystery. My husband and I finished watching the TV series Americans that takes place in the early eighties. And throughout the show, all cars are these really huge American clunkers. There isn’t a Japanese or Korean car in sight.

When did the fashion for huge cars change and when did Japanese cars come to this continent en masse?

9 thoughts on “Question for Real Americans”

  1. It looks like Japanese cars cane to the US in the 1980’s. By the end of that decade, there were more Japanese-made cars on the market than American cars. So it probably depends on when in the 1980’s the show takes place. Also what city/state, since some markets held out a little longer than others.


  2. The Chevrolet Chevette is a front-engine, rear-drive subcompact manufactured and marketed by Chevrolet for model years 1976-1987 as a three-door or five-door hatchback. Introduced in September 1975, the Chevette superseded the Vega as Chevrolet’s entry-level subcompact, and sold 2.8 million units over 12 years.[1] The Chevette was the best-selling small car in the U.S. for model years 1979 and 1980.

    The Chevette employed General Motors’ global T platform. Worldwide, GM manufactured and marketed more than 7 million[1] T-cars — rebadged variants using the T platform — including the Pontiac Acadian in Canada, Pontiac T1000/1000 in the United States (1981-1987), K-180 in Argentina, Vauxhall Chevette, Opel Kadett, Isuzu Gemini, Holden Gemini, and as a coupe utility (pickup), the Chevy 500. A T-car variant remained in production in South America through 1998.

    Introduced on a full-color nationwide campaign in 140-50 of the country’s largest daily papers,[2] the New York Times said the “little American car holds its own with the foreigners.”[3] Looking back on the Chevette in 2011, the same publication called the Chevette “haphazardly made, sparsely trimmed and underpowered.”[4] Consumer Guide described the Chevette as “unimaginative to an extreme.”[5]


  3. Actually Datsuns and Toyotas were big in the 60s although we didn’t get one until the early 70s because we did not buy cars that often. If you went to the Midwest you’d still see American cars but it looked like something out of the past, to me anyway. In the 50s you had American cars but in the earlier 60s the VW was the thing.


  4. What was the setting for the TV show you were watching? VW came into the US effectively in the 1960s, with Toyota and Honda not far behind. However, the initial cars from the Japanese were poor quality, and that didn’t change until later in the decade. Distribution was largely confined to the coasts, with few dealerships or service centers in the Midwest or South. Imports drew a hostile reception in much of the center of the country, much as immigrants do today. In fact, so the story went, you could be fired by GM or Ford for driving an import into the parking lot, assuming the other employees didn’t torch the car first.


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