For us “Cold War kids” growing up in Western-Germany in the 1980s, everything coming from the United States was unquestionably cool: American food (especially if it came from Burger King, which was exotic compared to the “Golden Arches”), American films (back then we naturally didn’t know that “Top Gun” and “Rambo” were sponsored by the US Department of Defense), and of course American music. We were happy to surround ourselves with all this, and in terms of culture we felt more rooted in Texas, California or Michigan than in the state of Baden Wuerttemberg.
But there was one cultural feature of the United States that we rarely got to see: automobiles from “across the big pond.” However, we did encounter them even more often in the American songs that pumped into our ears by our omnipresent Walkmans. The Chevrolet, the Camaro, the Corvette, and the Cadillac. Their very names promised glamour, adventure, and freedom.
And if we ever actually saw an American car whizzing past us in normally sedate Stuttgart-Möhringen (of course with its original American license plates from the nearby Kelley Barracks of the US Army), our eyes widened in sheer awe. But most of them were pickup trucks or SUVs (though they weren’t called that back then). Unfortunately, we never saw a Cadillac. That only fostered the myth of a brand that was obviously not for GIs but was reserved exclusively for Hollywood stars.