Does saying goodbye to Pontiac mean a little piece of heavy metal history is dying? Absolutely.
Heavy metal isn’t considered high brow. It’s music for the masses: for men with beautiful women, fast cars and beer. Since the 1970s, the Trans Am and other like muscle cars were automatically identified with heavy metal and for good reason: fast cars are sexy. Sure, Corvettes are hot too, but they are cost prohibitive. The stock broker in the better side of town might buy a Corvette, but you’d choose a Trans Am and be damn happy with it – right?
The death of Pontiac and slow collapse of the American auto industry is more entwined with music than you might believe. I don’t dabble in stereotypes here at Bring Back Glam! After all, I’m a metal head just like you. I also have a professional job at a Fortune 500, a graduate degree, a husband, a house in the suburbs and no kids. I’m the modern “me” generation exemplified: money to buy most of what I want, when I want it. I’m not sure the same could be said for the average Metal fan twenty years ago. You know, when Aerosmith was considered Metal and Ozzy could still string some words together to form a sentence. In the days beyond 1985, our economy changed and so did our music – and the cars we buy.
At around the same time more and more of us chose college instead of working right out of high school, importation of foreign autos became the norm. By the time I was in high school in the mid-90s, it was common for everyone to drive a Honda. The “buy American” crowd was exceptionally vocal then: those laborers and Teamsters could see the writing on the wall. The tide was shifting, just like the music industry. American manufacturing jobs were going away because of automation and competition. Music sales were plummeting because of competition and the start of what would be the epidemic known as illegal downloading.
In 1986, I bet you owned a cassette of Look What the Cat Dragged In – and played it while cruising in your Trans Am. You know you had a good time cruising down the boulevard with the top down. Times were simpler in your Trans Am. The car didn’t cost $40,000 either.
Heavy Metal is built for speed, isn’t it? It’s music that can get you in trouble if you’ve got a lead foot. Pop on Judas Priest’s British Steel and tell me you don’t drive just a little faster than normal? I’m sure you do.
I can’t even think of all the music videos that feature Pontiac sports cars. I know the Trans Am is featured in the cold open of Metal Mania and that says a lot right there.
I suppose I have an unfair bias toward Pontiac. After all, I’m from a GM family. For more years than I’ve been alive, my dad has worked around GM autos. That job was always good enough that my mom never had to work; I had everything I ever needed and wanted – and a Pontiac convertible as my first car. The first CD I ever played in that car was Aerosmith. Coincidence? I think not.