General Motors in the 1980s was not highly regarded. There was the debacle with the Oldsmobile diesels, which broke all the time and kept diesels from America for another 20 years. The new W-body vehicles on which GM lost $2,000 on each car built. And GM was trying to save money wherever it possibly could, since Roger Smith's goal was to get GM's stock price up. Michael Moore had made Roger & Me which didn't make the company look good one bit.
But sometimes, GM did manage to create some good things in the 1980s. There was the Buick Grand National. They came out with the C4 Corvette, a car I'm actually considering buying, even though all the examples in my price range have automatics. However, there was nothing as crazy from the Roger Smith years as the Fiero.
Those of you who read my piece on affordable mid-engine rear-drive cars know I have a soft spot for the Pontiac Fiero, even though people keep telling me they're garbage. But it was a mid-engined sports car, which somehow got justified to the GM beancounters as an "economy" car that would sell in great volumes. That ended up never being the case, even though Motorweek, car magazines, and auto enthusiast engineers tried their hardest to get people to buy the car.
Unfortunately, I'm not going to discuss any of that today. Instead, I'm going to focus on a certain feature the Fiero possessed apart from having its engine in the middle. From the Fiero's launch until the 1986 model year, there were speakers embedded in the headrests, presumably so you couldn't hear the drone of the underpowered engine while listening to Duran Duran. It also meant you might not hear the inevitable engine fire.
Now, headrest speakers will probably stay a thing of the past for one simple reason: safety. No one wants a piece of electronic equipment that close to their head. Furthermore, with the new whiplash protection standards in place, there's no way speakers can be integrated into the headrests. And the acoustics of the current stereo systems have gotten so good that headrest speakers perhaps aren't required anymore.
Nevertheless, speakers embedded in the headrests were good while they existed but they've become useless today. And I'd never be comfortable with electric equipment that close to my noggin. Especially with the static and if someone turned up the radio loud. Maybe we're better off without this feature.
Photo courtesy Car Domain.