In May 1978, the mini-series, 'Wheels' based on Arthur Hailey's 1971 best-selling novel, about the hierarchy of the automobile empire went on air over 5 nights. Set in Detroit Michigan 1967, between 23% to 27% of the homes in the U.S. with TV sets watched some part of the 10 hours. A total of 71 million homes were counted watching the first 8 hours shown over 4 nights. 

"I confess to not being well versed in American automobile companies, so I don't know which one it professes to be closest to. I suppose it's an amalgamation. It has industrial espionage and sabotage and racial troubles," Lee Remick made known. Shot on location around Los Angeles, director Jerry London told 'United Press International', "There are 150 speaking roles in 'Wheels' ... with a budget of $8 million and a 500-page script ... I feel as if I directed the equivalent of three $3 million features. On 'Wheels' I requested and got rehearsals with the actors, 3 days of readings with the principals before I started to shoot – a real TV luxury." 

"Through television, the audience shares a common experience, in entertainment and sports, as well as information programs. We provide a very precious resource to the public and to the nation … Television can enhance the role of the individual in our free society – not smother it," Fred Silverman believed. Centered around the fictional National Motors, Rock Hudson played an automobile executive who was trying to rescue the financially troubled corporation by developing and manufacturing a new auto called the Hawk. The Hawk was built by Curt Brubaker using the 1968 AMC Javelin he bought for $700. 

"There's a popular fiction that bad cars are built on Monday and Friday," Detroit auto editor Robert Lund told 'Popular Mechanics' magazine readers in June 1972. "One of the recent novels about the auto industry, Arthur Hailey’s 'Wheels', repeats the Monday/Friday car myth, warning against buying a car made the first or last day of the week. The background on this myth is that Monday and Friday are the days some assembly-line workers fail to report for work. 

"It's true that absenteeism in the auto plants runs higher Mondays and Fridays than on other days. There’s some absenteeism every day. It averages about 6% and can go as high as 10%. On Mondays and Fridays it can jump to as much as 15 to 20%. But that doesn’t mean cars completed Monday and Friday are inferior than the number of cars produced Tuesday through Thursday. Cars completed Monday/Friday go through the same inspections as those built on other days. The story about Monday/Friday cars being half-best may have been true in some ancient yesterday." 

By 1979 in Detroit, "tourism has become a $100-million-a-year industry for the city," 'Newhouse Service' reported. Mayor Coleman A. Young observed, "You can’t get a room in that hotel (the Renaissance Center). People from all over town call me to try and squeeze them into the hotel. There is already talk of at least one more hotel, and maybe two.” By May 1992, tourism had become Michigan's second largest industry, behind manufacturing. The U.S. Travel Data Center noted tourism accounted for 113,500 jobs, $429.6 million in spending and a total economic impact of $16.5 billion in 1989.

The Michigan Travel Bureau and the Automobile Club of Michigan contributed the increase in tourist traffic to stable gasoline prices and inflation rates, as well as an improved economy and the increased promotional efforts. In 1984, Detroit reportedly expected to earn roughly between $220 million and $320 million more than in 1983 with travelers spending.

Glenn Frey grew up in Detroit before moving to California when he was 19 to begin his music career. In 1971, Glenn helped co-founded the rock band, The Eagles, the quintessential California rock band of the 1970s. Guitarist Joe Walsh spoke to 'The Los Angeles Times' in 1980, "When we finished 'Hotel California', people started saying things like, 'You guys are amazing.' And the album became this huge seller. It made us very paranoid. People started asking us, 'What are you going to do now?' and we didn’t know. We ended up on the next album in Miami with the tapes running, but nobody knowing what was going on. We lost perspective. We just kinda sat around in a daze for 3 months. The only thing that we had going for us was our trust in each other. We knew we could do it. And we finally did."  

Glenn spoke to 'The New York Times' in 1988, "Though I left Detroit and went to California to cut my teeth on country-rock, I’ve remained obsessed with the music of my adolescence, the great soul hits of the '60s and early '70s. It’s a style that most black musicians have abandoned for dance music and rap. There are a whole lot of people who miss the sound of Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett. It’s left a gap that is being filled by people like Steve Winwood. I’m part of a group of rock stars who are between 35 and 42 (in 1988) and none of whom thought we would be doing it this long. It turns out that’s a whole group of rock-and-roll fans who are the same age and don’t want to stop rocking. They share the same outlook on life as we do, and they still want people from their generation to speak for them. I’ve decided to hang around."

Blog Archive