Yesterday, I shared the 1965 automotive ads from my latest purchase of 1960s Look magazines, since 1965 is one of my favorite model years and I own four ’65 model cars. Today, I’ll explore advertisements from 1964 and 1967. Although most 1960s ads pale in comparison to the beautifully illustrated ads from the 1940s and 1950s, I have a soft spot for the subject matter, as the the decade of the 1960s is easily my favorite for automobiles. We’ll begin after the jump.
We’ll begin chronologically in 1964, this Buick ad offering a colorful antithesis to their disappointing 1965 advertising campaign. The premise is that for 1964 Buick fielded a lineup of sports cars. The “Really.” on the bottom of the page echoes the tongue-in-cheek incredulity the copywriters expected you to feel. Two Wildcats, two Skylarks, and a Riviera round out the lineup of “sports cars,” although I can attest, as an owner of a ’65 Skylark Sport Coupe, that any mention of “sports car” in relation to “Skylark” is graphic evidence of expedient hyperbole in advertising. The ’64 pictured here is a beautiful car, but sporting it ain’t. The Riv, of course, is a genuine knockout in any battle of beauty. I am and always will be smitten by first-generation Rivieras.
It is somewhat more uncommon to see a Cadillac advertisement in magazines for the proletariat, such as Life and Look, but they pop up sometimes. They are always measured and subdued, and they often discuss the superior resale value of the brand with the crest. How times have changed. Cadillacs in 1964 displayed the last of the tailfins; although a vestigial remnant remained for 1965 and beyond, it could hardly be labeled as such. Almost all Cadillac road tests in the 1960s echoed the quality and superior engineering built into every Cadillac. “The Standard of the World” was not a laughable tagline then.
Oldsmobile clung to some illustrated ads for 1964, before making the switch to photography the following year. Because of this widespread adaptation of photography, 1964 is, in my mind, the last year of really breathtaking car ads (Pontiac and a few stragglers notwithstanding). This Jetstar 88 is part of an exciting winter lifestyle campaign, the perfect car to drive to the slopes. Winter-themed ads are far less common than those illustrating warmer weather, so I’m always happy to add them to my collection, even if I’m a warmer weather guy myself (largely because I get to drive my old cars and bicycles).
High on my list of favorite ads is this AC Spark Plug beauty featuring the Corvair Monza GT show car, which in reality was painted silver. This illustrates the magic of illustration; there’s no way a photograph can replicate the excitement and color of this ad.
This is the actual Monza GT, which is an exciting car from an exciting time when GM designers and engineers were excited by the Corvair and its platform. The Monza GT is actually mid-engined, and is one of many intriguing Corvair show cars from the early 1960s.
Chevy dealers weren’t ashamed of pandering for your used car dollar, and I’ve always found it dissonant that a Chevy advertisement would feature Fords, although the subliminal message here is that these Ford drivers traded these cream puffs in on new Chevrolets. Maybe you can too someday!
Ford had been using photography in advertisements prominently for quite a while by 1964. Some were good, some were bland, and this Fairlane falls somewhere in-between. Here, the ad copy attempts to sell the potential buyer on the similarity between his new mid-size hardtop and a 289 Cobra. Considering that most of these likely came with the mild two-barrel variant of the 289, that could be a stretch, but the writers were technically right!
Mercury discontinued their version of the Fairlane, the Meteor, for 1964, leaving the Comet as their bread and butter “intermediate,” even though it had long been classified as a compact. The larger ’64 did effectively take the place of the larger Meteor, and it fostered a sporting image I discussed here. I already own several ’64 Comet ads, but none as basic as this one, featuring the Comet head-on, electric razor grille and all.
Jumping ahead to 1967, we’ll begin with a staple of 1960s car advertising, Volkswagen. Most Beetle ads were black and white and basic, with the genius being in the copy, but the bus always seemed to get a splash of color. This model is likely worth many times its original purchase price today, as bus fever has taken hold of modern collectors.
Ford attempted to draw parallels between its “captive import” Cortina and the stalwart Fords of yesteryear by labeling it the “Model C.” Another ad in my collection, from 1968, pictures a Cortina in front of a distant castle, alongside a model representing Lady Godiva on her horse. Yep.
Chevrolet espoused the virtues of its factory inspection program while showing off an Impala Sport Sedan with rally wheels. Nice looking car, even if the ad pales in comparison to the Oldsmobile and AC spark plug ads above.
Buick recovered fairly well from their 1965 advertising nadir with this scenic advertisement for the GS-340, a car with only two choices of color, white or silver, both with a red stripe package. The 340 is today a little known variation of the Buick small-block that confuses casual car fans, most of whom wonder why someone would put a Mopar small-block in a Buick. The 340 was simply a 300 (itself little known) with a longer stroke and commensurately taller deck height. It lasted two years, 1966 and 1967, before being superseded by the more common Buick 350.
Finally, we’ll wrap up with a Plymouth that would eventually be propelled by an optional 340 (in 1968), the second-generation Barracuda. Although I prefer the fastback, I think all versions of the ’67 Barracuda were among Chrysler’s styling successes. This beach party scene might have been a few years behind Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, but there’s no sell-by date on a beach party, and an old Barracuda is always in style, whether or not it’s in my driveway or hanging on a wall in my house.
Thus ends Part II of my recent advertisement buying spree. Thousands of old musty magazines are filled with the handiwork of advertising giants from a golden era of advertising, but also a changing era of advertising. You can buy most of these magazines for under five dollars each, so there’s no excuse (other than the embarrassment of emulating me) to not start your own collection of ads. It will take up less space than a car collection, I assure you.