An avid collector and enthusiast of vintage car brochures, I’ve naturally come across some featuring rather unusual images over the years. Often, it’s due to the “scene” and its elements of actors, objects, and backdrop, which tend to distract from the actual car. Other times, such as this image from the 1973 Imperial catalogue, they’re just plain weird.
I’ve ran across this image numerous times over the years, and it always makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just crazy, but there’s something very ghostly about it. I can’t really explain why, but the completely out of their element seats that are placed in the center of the room and oddly angled, the startled expression of the woman in black, and the Vermeer-like artistic quality sort of give me the chills. I understand Chrysler was trying to showcase how the seats were as comfortable as a piece of home furnishing, but still, there’s something eerie about it.
It was the ’70’s, Brendan. You had to be there. 😉
I can see it. Has kind of a ‘Night Gallery’ quality to it.
Night Gallery, one of my all time favorite tv shows. I there is something so over the top about design of the late 60s and 70s that I find very appealing. Shag carpet in the bathroom, sure thing. What a weird and, from this vantage point, alluring time.
Here’s your assignment: Go home tonight, order take-out and watch “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby” back to back. Not only will you probably be less freaked out by the bizarro image above, but you’ll gain either a newfound fondness for, or an increased curiosity over just exactly WTF was up with the ’70’s. I lived through them, and I still can’t figure half this stuff out.
Oh, and “Harold & Maude” too. (Which is rife with great CC’s incidentally, but is also just another one of those “WTF” cinematic tidbits from the ’70’s.
+1 on Harold and Maude.
And an appreciation of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. Always useful
Whaddaya mean “eery”, deary?
Also the strange plate the doorknob is set in, the fact that the door is leaning against the oddly placed seats, and even the single white “A” in the lower right. Which is probably an identifier for a caption, but seems out of place here.
All that, plus the very creepy expression on the lady’s face. And the fact that her necklace looks like it’s made of skulls when viewed full size.
Exactly! For the life of me, I can’t figure out what emotion she’s trying to convey. It’s almost disgust, as if she’s used to the cat leaving dead mice on the doorstep, and now THIS.
Car seats in an 18th(ish) century house are incongruous enough by themselves, but the addition of the woman peering through a dark, half open door is unsettling because there isn’t any way to put together a sensible narrative from what’s in the picture. Kind of like this:
+1: That image from 2001 was the first thing that went through my mind when I saw the image above. But Stanley Kubrick was just weird….
“Honey. I can’t find the car keys! And also the front seat!”
Cool looking seats for what amounts to a 40/20/40 split bench. I dig the silver tone leather/vinyl.
What seem really strange was that the seats are not being displayed in a contemporary room setting. That looks like a 1930’s or so wall, and door trim. I could have pictured them set in a 70s mod living room.
We need to do a caption contest for this picture:
“George, if you put the Imperial seats in the den one more time I’m divorcing you.”
Definitely a picture from the era – it has a very ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ vibe to it.
“Where’s the rest of your car, Toots?”
Those who remember TV ads for the AMC Gremlin might recall this catch phrase.
“Hey baby, now come see where I put the back seat”
This is such an odd and creepy shot, but very funny.
I TOTALLY agree…in fact I felt the same bizarre-ness thing about this photo when I first saw this brochure years ago. The room is completely stark and kind of looks like an Andrew Wyeth painting. It’s as though this woman has entered an abandoned (maybe haunted) house with no furniture…and she opens the door to this room with car seats in it. Looks like she is saying, “oh ok I shouldn’t have come in here and disturbed the seats, I’m sorry, I’ll leave now”. LOL.
The woman is probably thinking: How is anyone supposed to get in the room with those chairs so close to the door? With regards to her skull necklace, it was intended to titillate. During the 70s there was a lot of discussion about advertisers putting occult and erotic images in things like ice cubes in liquor ads.
Keep in mind the image being shown there is (besides weird) being quite conservative and respectable.
At the time this catalog was being shot (summer 72?), the current upcoming pop cultural trend was Glam Rock (David Bowie in the Ziggie Stardust days, T-Rex, Roxy Music was just coming on line in England), as well as the height of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer in the mainstream rock venue. Motown was still going strong.
Punk and disco were still a few years away, and a lot of the late sixties hippie stuff was still going strong although definitely fading out in America.
Something is still missing I think…ah yes this is it!! Click on the picture for full effect!!
The woman is inviting you into her bedroom. You, on the other hand, are engrossed in your CAR SEATS.
What’s the matter with you? 🙂
Perhaps the lady and her companion were sweetly but ineptly trying to recreate a years-ago in-car romantic tryst…”but you unbolted and carried up the wrong seat, you lunkhead!”
Clearly those were seats made to look good, & not for long-term comfort. I imagine a lot of home furniture has been designed with this goal as well. I think of an older man complaining about back pain after a lifetime of sitting in furniture like that.
“….and all that was left were the seats. Oh, and the last two years of payments.”
Wow that is strange! Her necklace does look like it is made of skeletons if you enlarge the photo! And why are there car seats in her home anyway? I know Chrysler’s intention was to make it seem like their car seats were comfortable enough to be in a house but still it is just plain weird.
She’s more likely thinking : ” I told him, bring in the box BEHIND the seats, he never gets anything right”.
Oh yes, funny stuff. I remember a similarly odd image in a Plymouth brochure, same era. Only it was a bench seat sitting in a field of long grass. I used it for my computer wallpaper at the office. I’m a bit odd too.
Maybe this is where Clarkson got his set design ideas from. Probably more comfortable than those Vauxhall Senator seats.
What’s the point of such tapered seats in such a humongously wide car? They just don’t seem appropriate for the car; I wonder what proportion of Imperials were so equipped.
(Also a big Night Gallery fan, although a discriminating one. Full-length original versions, not the goddamned half-hour syndication package with the unrelated Gary Collins show glommed into it.)
It was probably to somehow keep in line with ChryCo’s “fuselage style” of the time.
That’s nothing on the creepy scale compared to Imperial advertising circa 1969-70……
“The 1969 Imperial: It won’t impress your sullen teenage daughter either.”
LMAO! Yes – that will make me purchase this car – the picture of the sullen teenage girl with her ‘father’ – totally messed up!
I concur. Those ads make me want to call the police.
Evidently they were going for the “creepy old guy” market at the time. Makes me feel a bit dirty for liking these cars! Also, in the 1970 brochure’s “for the rich” spread – they say”We take the time to make them very carefully.” They did not, however, crop the accompanying image carefully enough to avoid making the tires look flat!
” I keep telling him not to restore that Imperial in the den and to take it into the
garage.Thats it I m leaving him!”
The movies “Tommy” by The Who, and “The Wall” by Pink Floyd are 2 more to add to your ’70s movie weirdness viewing pleasure, Brendan. You can thank me later 🙂
Total weirdness suzulight, for sure!
For me, nothing tops “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for 1970’s weirdness in my book!
The Man Who Fell To Earth is far, far weirder.
If I remember correctly, The Man Who Fell To Earth was a Ken Russell movie. If not, ANY Ken Russell movie is weird.
Compare Amadeus to The Music Lovers…..Music Lovers is strange…..
Nicholas Roeg, who is just as notorious for weird films (he did Performance and Walkabout).
Zardoz is another monumentally strange 70s flick.
I’m waiting for ImpCapn’s business case analysis of this marketing initiative.
That whole brochure, but especially the seating shots for some reason, was an homage to Andrew Wyeth. Odd bit of inspiration for a luxury car brochure…
Bingo. Given Wyeth is considered one of the America’s most accomplished artists, I’d say the association is one of cultured aspiration with a strong emphasis on home-grown. However, in the case of the pic Brendan used, perhaps not applicable across all aspects of a product brochure.
That page is a direct homage to “Christina’s World,” except that instead of a woman with polio, there’s an Imperial. Baffling. (And that little girl reminds me of the kids in “The Wicker Man.”
The other thing i find strange is the poor quality of the seats’ padding, especially at the front edge. Lumpy, uneven, with the piping drooping across the front. I personally LOVE the design and the color, but these particular seats look like they were found at a wrecking yard. Maybe the woman is the long-suffering mother of a 20-something son who has been “restoring” (&@($ing around with) an Imperial-or two- in her driveway/yard for far too long…
As disturbing as this is – and it definitely is – there are some brochure shots from about the same time of a young and disturbed looking girl staring into a ’70’s car looking at the seats – really chilling because she looks like she had just killed people who may have been sitting there. .
Around the same time – and a few months ago someone put a selection on CC – there were numerous brochure shots of car seats in strange places – in houses, in the middle of a lawn, the strangest was a seat in a crop of some sort! How these images did anything to sell cars really is beyond me.
I even think the seats themselves look a bit like tombstones.
You mean this one?
Come play with us Danny. Uh, have you seen my sister?
That picture is downright creepy–having lived through the 70’s I remember there were
some strange things going on, but this reminds me of an Andrew Wyeth painting with
some Stanley Kubrick weirdness thrown in for good measure.
I remember those awful Chry-Co seats , they were far worse to sit in than look at and they’re really FUGLY .
I’ve forgotten the name of that clown (?Pennywise ?) , it’ll come to me as soon as I hit ‘ send ‘ .
I’m not scared by clowns but I know so many Men who are simply terrified of clowns , even in broad daylight .
Indeed, for a truly miserable experience, try riding in an E-body bucket seat for more than 30 minutes. They were definitely designed for appearance and not ergonomic comfort. Not to mention that, soon enough, they’d start developing rips and tears from normal wear and tear.
Lower trim bench seats in other Mopars of the era weren’t nearly as bad.
Sticky The Clown, sitting in what appears to be a Brougham seat bench.
That couch looked familiar –
KJ in Oz
Maybe they’re back seats. Would that make it more erotic?
Chrysler, being (a usually distant) third place to GM and Ford, was always much more willing to let their advertising and marketing department jump into whatever trend happened to be current in American culture at the time. Sometimes it worked, with legendary results, such as the Dodge Scat Pack and Plymouth Rapid Transit System with their bold statements and wild cartoon depictions.
Other times, it didn’t, like this rather strange attempt to associate the 1973 Imperial with a renowned American painter. Considering how poorly the Imperial perennially fared against Cadillac and Lincoln, I’d say it was worth a shot. They really didn’t have a whole lot to lose.
All right Richard, I know you were tripping hard last night, but put the gawdam seats back in the Chrysler so I can get to the EST meeting!
This was the brochure for the British export model. ChryCo was based in Scarfolk at the time.,http://www.scarfolk.blogspot.com.au/
The 1978 deluxe Pontiac brochure, IIRC, contained some seats resting on their carpeting only, with mountains and obelisks in the background, everything outdoors.
The ’75 or ’76 Buick Park Avenue sedan magazine adverts had the Broughamtastic red velour interior shown with hand-drawn wild animals in a jungle trying to attack it from outside (unsuccessfully), all sorts of snakes, lions, anything scary they could draw up. The point was evidently that no matter what the surroundings, you’d be at piece in the button-tufted, loose-pillow soft velour seats in your Park Ave.
I had a 1973 Imperial with these seats, in blue! The whole concept of photographing car seats separate from the car is a kind of recurring theme in Imperial ads in the late 60s and early 70s. The 1969 brochure, with car seats sitting in a wheat field while a blonde looks wistful in the background, is also kind of crazy.
Yes, the design is a little unusual – the tapering, the seat cushions. The big front button on the seat bottom is good for fiddling with while stopped at red lights. Also strange? The idea that “bucket” seats could be this big. Hey, I’ve got a car that’s 6 1/2 feet wide, but only 2 people can ride in front!
I will say this, though – these were plush. A cushy seat for a cushy car!