The US auto marketplace was never bare of fruit for the writers at MAD. From sleazy corporations, to clueless drivers, crooked mechanics, indifferent highway workers… nobody got off the hook. Not even auto “journalists”. (Was the “Load & Crash” title a sly, prescient glimpse into the digital future? I mean, did non-geeks in 1973 know what that phrase meant? Or were MAD readers of the day a sort of proto-geek?)
I’ll let it slip here that I may have studied some journalism in school, and I may at one point have taken part in covering some facets of the automotive world; that’s the reason I used quotes around the word “journalists.” Sort of like sports “journalists”…or cavemen hunting grizzlies with a spear; participants often end up getting dangerously close to the game.
My how the tables have turned! No longer are Japanese-made cars considered inferior to those of any other nation, even if they sometimes underplay their hand. (This overlooks the overt racism, which we really shouldn’t overlook.) Can you imagine the spiffy gal shown here being squired about in some Thunderbird-esque barge being satisfied with a mid-range Ford sedan of today? On the other hand, I can still picture the aging professor on a rattly, noisy, China-sourced scooter of some kind.
Another aging stereotype is the slippery used-car dealer. Carfax and similar automated vehicle reporting systems have made the modern used car a nearly fungible commodity; that is, no one car is more or less worthy than any other of comparable spec, being essentially a known quantity. Even buyers of classics can use the Hemmings-style 1-4 point condition rating to find comparable sales. While flipping cars is inherently an opportunity for fast dealers, the bad apples (and bad practices) are falling out of the scene. (I now humbly await all of your used-car dealer horror stories.)
All images and humor courtesy of MAD Magazine.