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GM Promo Films : 1980-1985


GM Promo Films : 1980-1985


1-DVD (127 minutes)

As the 1980s began, GM was on top of the automobile industry with a 46 percent share
of the American market. But by 1990, their market share had plummeted to 35 percent,
thanks to “badge engineering”, and failure to improve on quality. This DVD contains
original GM promotional films for some of the most significant (and some of the most
forgettable) vehicles to come out of the General’s garage from 1980-1985. As with all
promotional films, we see happy, peppy salespeople touting GM’s newest creations, and
sadly, some of these innovations would become technological blunders.


1980 Pontiac Trans Am and Grand Am Promotional Film (11 min)
With Buick producing turbocharged V6 engines in the late 1970’s, Pontiac decided to explore turbocharging
themselves. But being GM’s performance division, and having the high performance Trans Am as their image
machine, Pontiac decided to turbocharge a V8 instead of a V6. Unfortunately, the 1980 Turbo Trans Am was not
as potent as the previous year’s traditional big cubic inch V8, but the beauty, handling, and status of the 1980
Turbo Trans Am remained strong. This promotional film shows the highlights of then-new and highly anticipated
Turbo 4.9 Formula and Trans Am, and touches on the YellowBird and regular Firebird models. The second part of
the film is also significant as it marks the last year of the rear wheel drive Pontiac Grand Am. The mid-sized Grand
Am would disappear from Pontiac’s lineup after 1980, returning in 1985 as a compact front wheel drive model.


1980 Buick Skylark Promotional Film (8 min)
All-new for 1980, GM introduced their X-body cars across 4 divisions, with the names Chevrolet Citation, Buick
Skykark, Oldsmobile Omega, and Pontiac Phoenix. A totally new FWD drivetrain would lead the way, and GM
touted the advantages of FWD to eager American buyers. Unfortunately, Japanese imports were growing in
popularity every year, and the home run GM needed to thwart the onslaught of imports would not be found in the
X-body cars. But in 1980, everything looked hopeful for GM’s new compacts, sales were strong, and the Chevrolet
Citation won the “Motor Trend Car Of The Year Award”. In this film, we see the all-new 1980 Buick Skylark, one of
the four “badge engineered” GM X-body 1980 models.


1981 Cadillac 8-6-4 Engine – Promotional Film (9 min)
Times were changing and fuel economy was now America’s top priority. Cadillac responded with a variable-
displacement gasoline engine. This one of a kind engine could run the Cadillac’s engine on fluctuating 8, 6, and 4
cylinders, all depending upon driving conditions at any specific time. The main idea behind the 8-6-4 engine was to
conserve fuel, and the automatic shifting and firing of cylinders was a first for the Cadillac market, and was standard
on all 1981 Cadillac models except the Seville. Although the concept was innovative, the problems surrounding the
new engine style were troublesome, and in time became one of the most famous GM engineering disasters,
subsequently damaging Cadillac’s stellar reputation for quality. An engineering idea that was ahead of its time
(selective-cylinder V8 engines are now fairly common), computer technology just wasn’t advanced enough for this
idea to work in 1981. The 8-6-4 engine was discontinued after only one year of production. A fascinating little
promotional film, especially considering the imminent failure of the drivetrain.


1982 Cadillac Cimarron Promotional Film (9 min)
Hot on the heels of the disastrous 1981 Cadillac 8-6-4 engine came the ill-fated decision for Cadillac to get into
the luxury compact market. But the Cimarron didn’t fool anyone, it was obvious that it was a re-badged Chevy
Cavalier, gussied up with leather seats and other fine appointments. While widely regarded as one of the worst
decisions in GM history, the Cimarron did in fact achieve a few positive things, first and foremost it allowed
thousands of people that had never owned a Cadillac before to enjoy the benefits and bragging rights of telling
their friends that they own a Cadillac. A very interesting promotional film aimed at capturing the upscale buyer.


1982 Chevrolet Corvette Promotional Film (6 min)
The final year for the C3 Corvette, the 1982 model was significant in that it was the first to use a GM
technological innovation they dubbed “Cross-Fire Injection”, the first “fuelie” Corvette since 1965. Chevrolet also
introduced the Collectors Edition Corvette, with Silver Beige paint, silver leather interior, leather wrapped
steering wheel, plush carpeting, it appeared Chevrolet was ending its C3 series with a bang. The 1982 model
would be the final development of a body style started in 1968, and while the 1982’s horsepower levels could not
compare to those 427 and 454 powered models of the late 60’s and early 70’s, the 1982 was arguably one of
the best looking of the C3 line.


1984 Chevrolet Corvette Promotional Films (21 min)
Few cars have been more eagerly anticipated than the 1984 Corvette. This would not be just another freshened
carryover model, but a completely new Corvette that was recast from top to bottom as a thoroughly modern
interpretation of the classic American sports car. The car was set to debut as an early 1984 model and not an ’83
as had been widely predicted. This was because the mid-model-year introduction made certifying the car as an
early ’84 more convenient (if tougher) in terms of meeting emissions and fuel-economy standards. Unfortunately
this meant the car wouldn’t technically be in production for 1983, which would have been Corvette’s 30th
anniversary year. As such, there would be no 1983 Corvette. Here are two promotional films for the 1984 Corvette
taken off a Chevrolet laser disc. The first film is on the Corvette engineering, the second is about its new features.


1984 Pontiac Fiero Promotional Films (33 min)
Two outstanding promotional films for the revolutionary 1984 Pontiac Fiero. The Fiero was the only mid-engined
American 2-seater, and utilized revolutionary manufacturing techniques, along with a radical plastic body consisting
of panels that could be easily changed from model year to model year. Immensely popular when introduced, Fiero
sales plummeted its second year, partly due to the public misconception that the Fiero, being a 2-seat sports car
like the Corvette, was meant to be fast. But Pontiac never misled the public, the Fiero was always intended to be a
commter car, economical, and have a head-turning sexy body. The first promotional film seen here (10 min) was
supplied to Pontiac dealers to explain the new features of the Fiero, making sure salespeople understood the
radical technological advancements of the drivetrain arrangement, body construction, and how to market this
unique little car to the public. The second promotional film (23 min) was targeted at the buyer. Hosted by a young
Mike Joy (ESPN, Formula 1, and NASCAR commentator), this film has some great assembly line and
behind-the-scenes footage of the Fiero plant. These films are also on our “Pontiac Fiero” DVD.


1985 Pontiac Grand Am Promotional Films (30 min)
The Pontiac Grand Am had disappeared from the GM lineup in 1980, last seen as a RWD mid-sized car. In
1985, Pontiac reintroduced the Grand Am nameplate on an all-new FWD platform shared with the Oldsmobile
Calais and Buick Somerset. The Grand Am would become extremely popular in this form, and its basic body
shape, despite going through a couple evolutionary facelifts, would remain intact all the way until its
discontinuation in 2005. These 4 original promotional films focus on features, the assembly plant, and a film
targeted at the Grand Am’s competition. The last film is a classic 1980’s produced segment, with pretty girls in
aerobics outfits, a Hall & Oates video used to promote the Grand Am sound system, and ventriloquist act
Willie Tyler And Lester cracking jokes.