For the last few years, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to
bore you share my automotive lifestyle with a like-minded readership; after all, my love of the four-wheeled conveyance is an all-encompassing part of my life. Before I could amass my continually growing car collection, I gathered anything and everything remotely related to the automobile. As a result, my collection of antique automotive advertisements has easily surpassed a thousand, and this past Friday, it grew by at least 30. It’s time to share, and I’ll start with the strikingly illuminated tail of a 1965 Thunderbird. There’s more past the jump.
To disclose an obvious facet of my personality: I’m an obsessed child to some extent. This is a room in my house; my wife and I have labeled it the car room. It’s where I keep most of my advertisements, toys, and books, although some things have spread to other areas of our abode.
Therefore, I’m constantly hunting down old magazines at antique stores and sales. On Friday, my wife had just returned from a week-long conference and was catching up on work stuff at home; therefore, I cruised over to our local antique warehouse and returned with four Look magazines from the mid-1960s. Although four of the eight vehicles that are titled in my name are 1965 models, I believe that 1965 marked a turning point in advertising. The ads were largely boring and colorless when compared to the heyday of automotive ads: the 1950s. Buick, one of my favorite marques, was especially guilty, with drab ads selling spectacular cars like this Riviera GS. I love the car, the ad…not as much.
Ford, like many other manufacturers, had made the jump to photography, and this spectacular two-page spread pairs a bright red Mustang with the cool “Gas Turbine” transport truck.
Of course, in the 1960s there was always some heavy-handed sexism involved; after all, why should a “little lady” have to change a tire? Today, almost nobody knows how to change a tire, so it might be that we’ve retrogressed from a society of misogynists to a society that allows new cars to be sold without spare tires.
Even if the he-men of the world precluded ladies from doing any heavy lifting, they weren’t above posing them provocatively for the sake of a sale. Pretty girls sell cars and car parts, and any number of parts store calendars prove that time hasn’t changed that. Here, a scantily clad brunette poses naturally near a ’65 Coronet.
On the other hand, Chrysler took advantage of the horticultural world for this neat ad featuring a ’65 Newport in a knockout color combination. But why is the tree dead?
General Motors “Guardian Maintenance” always advertised in the 1960s; in this ad, some technicians are posing near what appears to be an Olds 394 two-barrel.
General Motors was always a prominent advertiser, even if Chevy’s ads were often tame. This
Honduras Madeira Maroon Chevelle was probably the tamest-looking A-Body of 1965, but that’s like saying that your pizza is bland. It’s still pizza. This is a Malibu SS featuring a young couple having a good time on what looks like someone’s driveway.
This ad is one I have several copies of, but it’s near and dear to my heart, featuring a Corvair Monza convertible, the same model as my Mist Blue ’65. This is another pretty girl ad, this time in front of some pretty scenery in what is certainly one of the prettiest cars of 1965, if I may allow my bias to show.
Pontiac’s ads of the 1960s were, by miles and miles, the most beautiful and undoubtedly effective of all-time. Very few ads create such a glamorous image, and unlike most manufacturers of the 1960s, Pontiac stuck to illustrations and reaped the rewards. This Bonneville hardtop could never look as good in real life as it did in Kaufman/Fitzpatrick ads.
Nor could this Catalina, even though it too was one of the stylistic high points of 1965.
Oldsmobile’s 1965 crop of ads paled in comparison to Pontiac’s, but made Buick’s look blue in the face. At the very least, the photography was colorful, and this Dynamic 88 hardtop is the central focus of a brooding pretty girl ad. Has her date stood her up? Existential angst? Catalina envy?
GMC ads were also-rans, workaday ads for workaday vehicles. There were no pretty girls, just a van.
See what I mean? Other than painting some suspension and driveline components and loading up the white space with text, GMC just phoned it on in.
General Motors even advertised as its own entity in 1965, singing the praises of the durability built into its entire lineup of cars. This lineup might be “peak GM,” before rampant cost-cutting eroded quality and individuality. Savor it, kids!
Behind Pontiac, I think Ford was the advertising leader of 1965, although the new Mustang practically sold itself. The LTD was prominent in many ads with its “quieter than a Rolls-Royce” schtick. I am haunted by the advertisement above, not only for the red Mustang GT, but also for the most beautiful race car of all-time (personal opinion), the GT-40. When Shelby-American took over some of the GT-40’s development in 1965, it was truly on its way as a legendary racer, winning the first race of the year at Daytona. But why are only its rear discs glowing?
Here’s a really nice ad for a Vintage Burgundy Galaxie 500 convertible, extolling the virtues of the new 240 cubic-inch “Big Six.” If 1965 wasn’t one of the pinnacle years of automotive styling, I don’t know what is.
Following Pontiac’s lead, many Comet advertisements were illustrated in 1965, after using mainly photography in ’64. While they pale in comparison to the originals, Comet ads were fun, and they often featured actual illustrations of fancy foreign sports cars, like the TR-3 on the upper right edge of this one. Few people probably rallied Caliente convertibles in ’65, but it never hurt to make the connection. Comets were heavily featured in racing in 1965.
Ending where I began, this beautiful ‘Bird will have to hold us until the next installment, where I’ll bore you with ads from 1964 and 1967. Until then, keep your ‘Bird away from the salt, unless you’re taking it to Bonneville.