Let’s make up a phrase, shall we? Come on, it will be fun. We are going to associate a celebrity name with a known phenomenon in human society. Think of “Streisand effect”. That sort of thing. What we’re looking for is a celebrity who was critically popular when he or she was new, fell into disrepute for a while, then experienced a renaissance of renown. Maybe John Travolta would be an example of this. Or Paul McCartney. Run-DMC. Who knows.
But make it up fast, so I can put it in this next sentence: “The 1977 GM B-body is experiencing a XXXXXX Effect lately.” It’s true. That platform was basically the best-selling full-size vehicle for every one of the 25-ish years it was available for sale. But only now, as the Panther falls into history and we start judging it on the merits rather than the singular merit of remaining on sale in showrooms, do we see how well-conceived that “downsized” car was. There’s a rising tide of B-body nostalgia, restoration interest, and classic-car cred.
And it’s interesting just how often a paean to the B-body will be followed by a coda expressing disdain for the A-body (later, when a front-wheel drive A-body arrived, reclassified as G-body) midsize sibling. Due mention will then be made of things like fixed rear windows on the sedans, the ungainly Aerobacks and the unnecessarily Baroque style of the coupes. If the writer really wants to hammer his point home, he’ll simply ask you, the reader, to compare the proportions of the two platforms. The B is sleek and elegant, whether in Caprice glassback coupe or faux-wood Pontiac Safari battlewagon form. The A/G, on the other hand, is ungainly and upright.
No man who could have driven a B of any badge should have settled for an A. But settle they did, and in numbers that increased as the late ’70s turned into the early ’80s. In fact, the shift from “B” to “A” wasn’t just massive; it was permanent and relevant even today. Hold on: I’ll show you.