Friday Video: Pontiac's The Bug and the Beetle


The Bug and the Beetle was a 1972 propaganda film by GM meant to whip workers into shape by stoking fear of foreign competition. How can you take a day off work when Germans and Japanese are pouring their cars onto our docks by the boatload? Franz and Hiro aren’t resting. If we don’t sell these Pontiacs, we’ll have to fire you, which means you’ll have no money with which to buy Pontiacs!

Of course, within a decade Japanese automakers would begin construction on US factories staffed with American workers. Times sure have changed, particularly at 5:50 when the company man voiceover says, “We cannot hope for the government to save us.” But if this film has taught us one thing, it’s that those minty fresh 1200s and 240Zs look mighty tempting. Then again, so do those Venturas. And those awesome Sony alarm clocks with the flip tiles!

The thrilling conclusion after the jump.

Hat tip to John.

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14 Responses to Friday Video: Pontiac's The Bug and the Beetle

  1. Jim-Bob said:

    What is sad is that for all the talk, GM really just didn’t get it. People bought small, inexpensive foreign cars because they wanted small inexpensive cars that were reliable and good on gas. Why did Californians take to them so readily? Well, in large urban areas, a small car is an advantage over a large one in terms of parking and maneuverability. GM produced nothing of the sort back then. Sure, they had the Vega/Astre, but those cars only helped to put another nail in the coffin of public confidence in GM. Is the GM of today much different than the GM of then? Not really. Sure, they have great vehicles if you have lots of cash to spend and want something big that uses a lot of gas. Their small cars though? The Aveo and Cobalt? Really? If that is the best they can do, then they deserve to end up on the ash heap of history.

  2. Lincoln Stax said:

    That propaganda film makes me want to buy a Beetle.

    The line of cars on the street right at the end of the first segment almost gave me an orgasm. So much choice machinery, and probably every one of them is scrap by now.

  3. Kevin Lee said:

    This video actually makes u think that the Japanese and Germans were quick to develop something so sellable that it overtook American cars in terms of tech and sales! Hahaha, personally, I’m a supporter of German and Japanese cars. The Axis of evil inspires me!

  4. E-AT_me said:

    9 out of 10 baseball gloves are made somewhere… uh… the 10th just appears out of nowhere? sadly, i feel the best cars GM has made weren’t made in america.. GTO and Astra to name a few. and this just proves that GM hasn’t learned anything in almost 40 years, except that the government WILL help.

  5. bert said:

    Is it wrong of me to think this is funny!? Their numbers were a little off. For example, the whole motorcycle thing was BS. Even today a guy who rides a Honda is greatly outnumbered by guys on Harleys. And they still get razzed for it everyday. I find the whole “made in America” thing a load of crap, because the American companies are doing the same thing to the foreign countries that are supposedly “invading” our shores. These days everything around the world is outsourced and made and sold by someone else, somwhere else! My big question now is, WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THOSE TOYOTA CROWNS!!!!

  6. TommyJ said:

    This video sounds like something my brother would make. He hates Japanese cars for some reason, the only ones I can get him to admit are cool are Datsuns.

  7. gus said:

    every single WORKING day!!

  8. GEN2TWINCAM said:

    “We’re losin’ to the copetition…” As Vegas flow down the assembly line.

  9. AKADriver said:

    bert: at the time this film was made, in 1972, Harley-Davidson was on life support. Their reputation was in the toilet; at the time middle America was still afraid of outlaw bikers, not pretending to be them. A UJM was socially acceptable. After being purchased by AMF in 1969, having most of the workforce slashed, Harley quality was in the toilet, too. Even diehard Harley guys think of the seventies as a lost decade.

  10. bert said:

    Even diehard Harley guys think of the seventies as a lost decade.

    They should!

  11. Kev said:

    The irony of this video is that it’s made by management, and directed at the rank and file staff (designers, sales and plant workers as identified in the vid).

    …but what almost killed US car makers was crap short-term management, not the workers.

  12. mister k said:

    nah, listen close:employee absenteeism is the real threat

  13. nlpnt said:

    At the time Pontiac Division didn’t have anything to compete with the imports shown, making only mid- and full-size cars – the Ventura was still a year off and the Astre was Canada-only at the time. And GM’s answer to all those Datsun pickups would be another import for a whole decade.

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