In the middle part of the 20th century, the venerated MAD magazine got loads of mileage out of Americans’ angst about their less-than-reliable cars of the time. Today we get a look at writer-artist Dave Berg’s take on the Chilton/Haynes literature genre.
Remember how service stations would have a tub of soapy water next to the air hose and tire bay? Remember service stations? Nonetheless, I’d be more likely during a tire change to lose one of the lugnuts, rather than the hubcap. (And Lordy, a bumper jack! Death on a stick!)
Actually, it wasn’t a rattle, but an Easter egg that I found under a bunch of kid’s stuff in the rear of our Volvo 960 wagon…MONTHS after Easter. And it was a real egg; boiled, but real. That super-clean car had developed a funky smell, as you can imagine, and I finally (and literally) had to dismantle the whole interior to find the source.
Some of these “instructions” seem a bit too real. I remember when cars still had points and condensers and plugs that lasted only 5-10 thousand miles, looking in a manual for advice on plug condition was a bit of a headscratcher.
And I remember when bias ply tires were still fairly common: tire rotation diagrams were borderline abstract art. Then when FWD first hit the U.S. that further “muddied the waters” as a FWD car could have bias ply tires.
Haha, some of these really hit home. Like the sound of a little wooden ball rolling around somewhere behind the dash of my Honda Fit that took a dealer days of disassembly to find a whole walnut in a channel inaccessible to anyone but a squirrel. All under warranty, believe it or not.
And the mechanic who was taking off my snow tires and re-mounting the regular tires on my 59 Plymouth. He set the wheelcover on the ground and was putting the bolts in it. The fact that they were bolts instead of lugnuts took him by surprise on the last one as the whole tire/wheel fell to the floor, crushing my wheelcover. Doooh! He pounded it out with a rubber mallet. It was a little wrinkley thereafter but still fit.
“(And Lordy, a bumper jack! Death on a stick!)” – Oddly, the only car I’ve ever owned that had one of these was a ’73 LTD. Ironically, it was also the HEAVIEST car I’ve ever owned. Of course the front bumper of that car could’ve been used in bridge construction….
“DON’T DRIVE WHILE ROAD IS IN MOTION” – An early anti-drunk-driving PSA perhaps?
And similar to “Finding the Rattle” – I once had to remove the driver’s seat in my wife’s 2009 Lancer to retrieve her ever so slippery iPhone 6. It slipped down the side between the seat and the console; then while driving, found its way under a seam in the carpet to settle between the floorpan and the underside of the carpet, naturally in a place where my fingers couldn’t get to, UNTIL I REMOVED THE SEAT. She said, “I keep calling my phone. I hear it under the seat, but I don’t see it.”
In the 80s, I drove a 77 LTD wagon for a delivery job. You guessed it! Bumper jack + blowout in the fast lane of I-10. Changed it there, like an idiot.
Hey Ex Eugeniac … do you know the year for that Mad? I totally remember it! The rattle under the seat dislodged my memories. Also the reference to the lemon; as a kid I didn’t get that reference, as the term wasn’t in common use then (before consumer protection laws) and in case not in an 8 year old’s vocabulary in that context. Thanks for posting!
I’m guessing it’s circa 1959-60 based on the cars, but MAD tended to recycle material in “specials” and paperbacks upwards of a decade or more after first publication. Those latter had a long life on the used market, and MAD paperbacks full of material from the late ’50s/early ’60s found at garage sales (invariably with front covers torn off) were a regular feature of my late ’80s adolescence.
I’d agree late ’50’s based on the cars, but was curious about specifics because I suspect I saw it in the magazine, not a book, and my “Mad years” were probably ’65-67 or so. Then a brief hiatus from humor mags, revived by National Lampoon in the ’70’s. Only car content there was Bruce McCall.
Dave Berg was great at drawing cars.
and the Usual Gang of Idiots – describes the magazines artistic and writing staff. Dave Berg, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, Paul Coker are some of the artists that regularly drew for MAD.
That is some seriously early Dave Berg. Much different tone than “The Lighter Side of”.
Proabably one of the Specials from the early 70s.
March 1961, page 39+.
“Don’t Drive While Road Is In Motion”
This sounds like a quote from Foster Brooks.
Ah, Galloping Gertie… Every engineering student has to watch this film. Thanks for the post. This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen it with sound! It was always a ‘silent film’ in the classroom.
Jeez! The music almost DROWNED out the sound of the wind! LOL! 🙂
Is that an Isetta 600 being blown off the road in “Adjusting the horn”?
I remember doing so many of these things when fixing my first car. Including adjusting the horn – amazing what a difference that made, and how many folk didn’t know they were adjustable. Fortunately I never reached the stage of disassembling the car to find a rattle; it had so many I only noticed the new ones. Thanks for the memories, Ex.
Ohhhhh, yes. I took a swipe at those myself, some years back.
This what you’ve posted from the Mad issue I’ll once again be able to ID once a minor hard drive issue is fixed, though, is aces.
The bit about looking for the rattle reminds me of an episode of the old “Dennis the menace” TV show.
Mr Wilson half dismantled a ’59? Ford looking for a squeak, before Dennis pointed out the kitten in the trunk.
Cutaway car on the first page is a ’60 Imperial. Thanks for the laugh.
I remember reading my dad’s old Mad Magazines, found in my grandparent’s house. They ranged from the the late ’50s to the mid ’70’s. Great to see the vintage art again.
My take on the cars featured:
In the arrow at the beginning- Cartoon ’59 Cad on top, cartoon VW Beetle below, your least-favorite classic on the bottom.
As Erik stated, the cutaway car is indeed a ’60 Imperial.
In the “Adjusting the Horn” panel, it looks like the roof of a ’61 Galaxie is seen, with the driver of a ’56 Ford blowing his freshly-adjusted 17,000 decibal horn.
In the “How and When to use Car Chains” panel, a 1958 Ford with a Continental kit is featured.
You don’t see much of the car in “How to Change a Flat”, but I believe that’s a ’59 Dodge.
In the “Getting Rid of a Rattle” panel, we see the delightful derriere of a ’60 Plymouth. “Suddenly it’s 1957!”
And finally, in the “Rotating the Tires” section, while I believe they’re supposed to be the same, the first car looks to me like a 1948 Olds, while the upper car in the second panel looks like a ’48 Ford – Look at the grille bars.
The befinned lower car that the hoodlum is liberating the wide whites from is a ’59 Caddi.
Better spin that lug wrench quicker pal, if Officer O’Malley gets his hands on you, you’ll be spendin the night in the hoosegow me boyyo
I really like the wonderfully absurd “Drive-In Gas Station” sign in the last page.
Great stuff as always .
It would be great if someone could find and publish the MAD article from the same time period, “Future Styling Concepts”. Following the introduction of the ’58 Buick and Oldsmobile, one caption read, “Soon we will arrive at ALL CHROME cars…then they’ll introduce PAINT trim!”
I loved MAD Magazine back in the day. I definitely remember that article about fixing cars.
MAD had a total field day with Nixon and Watergate in the early 1970s.
I would love to see MAD do an article about the Dodge/Chrysler models of today. It would probably be something like this:
Chapter 4: Vehicle Electrical and Lighting
4-1 – Headlamp bulb replacement
1. Disconnect negative battery terminal(requires removal of Left-Front wheel and Fender; see Chapter 6)
2. Remove Front Bumper(See Chapter 6)
3. Remove headlamp assembly(see above photo for screw locations)
4. Remove bulb.
5. Installation is reverse order of removal instructions.
Just an FYI, SOME of these steps are the actual steps used to replace the headlamp bulb and assembly from the 2000ish Shitubishi Eclipse coupes, because Chrysler likes retarded, non-user-friendly engineering processes.