Listen carefully, and you can still hear the jingle. Doodee da, doo de dum, Chevrolet will make you feel secure… It is arguably the most memorable car commercial ever made, a rousing cheer of American culture played out in front of that most American of cars, Chevrolet.
Yeah -- the bowtie shone brightly in 1975.
Back then, Mom really did make scratch apple pie in the kitchen. Grandpa and Dad played ball in the yard with the kids, and everyone ate a hot dog – or two – at the ballpark. Always, there was a Chevy parked curbside, a patriotic car for Americans living the American dream.
It’s been a long and hard 30 years since. Baseball has stumbled down a wicked path, wandering away from the romantic scene of a beat up catcher, leaning, begging and waving a fly ball around a foul pole as the nation gasped. It is now the pastime of cheats, a dirty game that has lost its place as America’s favorite sport. Apple pie and hot dogs haven’t fared much better. Once the staple of picnics and dinner tables across the nation, they’ve been downgraded as plain and unhealthy. Yesterday, you could go into any highway coffee shop and order up a warm slice of pie with a slab of cheddar on top.
Today, you get a small french pastry and a latte.
Bah. If this is a better way, make mine a beef dog with extra mustard and relish. The shadow of bloated ballplayers may drape over the game like a black veil, but baseball is still baseball, with its storylines and taut drama. Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, full count, here comes the pitch…
What goes better with that than a hot dog, a slice of pie or a Chevrolet? Wait a minute. Chevy? GM's bread-and-butter nameplate has always connected itself to the American Way, to be sure. And like much of traditional Americana, it has also seen better days. It’s ironic that Chevy, in that famous commercial, chose to introduce the Chevette -- an import-fighting small car -- instead of one of its larger vehicles. Watching now, the commercial subtly reveals the reality of what was happening in the world at the time, and what was to come. In 1975, America was pulling out of the first oil crisis, living with a mandated 55 mph speed limit and conserving energy. Automakers were scaling down their vehicles in response to foreign competition and a new average fuel economy standard called CAFE.
In the “Good ‘Ol USA,” people were getting over the shock of waiting in line to put gas in their cars, and were buying imports at a much faster clip. It’s been a weird and twisted merry-go-round ever since, large vehicles booming and busting with the price of a gallon and the fortune of US automakers tagging along for the ride. After 30 years, you’d think they’d have figured it out, but Chevrolet finds itself once again getting slapped around by small import cars. What used to be – you could sell a car because it was a Chevy – is long gone, and this time domestic automakers don’t have Americana to lean on. In 2006, the apple pie is fat-free and in the freezer section, the dog is a bratwurst, and Chevy has a new Tahoe.
That’s the difference – supposedly. Listen to the bowtie boys and you’ll believe that the 2007 Tahoe is one of the next great American cars, the SUV that offers everything – great ride and handling, a powerful engine, a comfortable and spacious interior and the fuel economy of a smaller SUV. It’s the car GM hopes will bring about a new surge of buyers, and in the process remind us all that we still love baseball, real apple pie, a big beef hot dog and, of course, Chevrolet. We were skeptical, as is our nature, so there was only one way to figure it out: eat as much pie as possible, cram down a few hot dogs, catch a game or two – and do it in two days, flogging the new Tahoe throughout California and Arizona, along highways, up and down mountain roads, through deserts and in city traffic. The goal: to see if this newest Chevrolet has what it takes to go together with what people want in today’s no-fat, import-friendly and fuel-efficient USA.