My lovely bride buys me old car brochures as gifts, and this Christmas I found a catalog for the full line of 1963 Buicks under the tree, in honor of our new ’63 Riviera (although it was not included in the full-line brochure, having been introduced a bit later in the model year). Given my propensity to overthink dumb things, I found myself lingering on this picture. First, the text on the obviously retouched Michigan license plate is a hodgepodge of cryptic letters one might find on the inner walls of a pyramid. Second, I’m fascinated by this seemingly mismatched couple and their luncheon on the grass (without a lunch).
Here’s a closer look. Unless I’m missing something, she is perhaps decades younger than he is, yet there is no evidence of a mid-life crisis in his general appearance. He’s not wearing clothes that the kids might wear; he’s not coloring his hair. I mean, he’s driving an Electra, for crying out loud. She’s wearing white pants and lying on the grass, looking at him as if he’s saved her at the last minute from the jaws of a great white shark – “My hero!” My lesser impulses want to paint her as a gold digger, as an older man with an Electra is possibly the well-off doctor, lawyer, businessman type. But maybe she’s his secretary. Maybe he’s simply a really nice guy after a string of really mean guys. Maybe he’s a confirmed bachelor who’s finally found “the one,” and she just happens to be a beautiful younger woman, although he’s not wearing a wedding ring. What’s he reading, the owner’s manual? There’s not even a picnic basket – why are they parked on the grass reading a pamphlet!?! How has that hat not messed up his hair?!!!!!!???
ENOUGH! What do YOU think? Please don’t answer that this is simply the concoction of some marketing department in a vain attempt to make middle-aged guys think they can nab a beautiful younger woman if only they’d buy a new Electra. That’s no fun at all.
P.S. If that picture does not pique your curiosity, how about this advertisement below?
It’s a plain old ad for a ’63 Electra 225 four-door hardtop (nice car!). But we’re looking down from the ceiling tiles at two well-dressed businessmen standing on a shabby looking floor. The angle of the lighting implies that it’s closing time, and these two successful guys are engaging in some shop talk before heading out to the waiting Electra. But what if it’s more sinister? Their eyes are shielded, and the contrast between light and dark is vaguely reminiscent of a noir-like sensibility. Is the Electra some kind of getaway car? The man in the tan coat is making a forceful point with his right hand – is it a threat? Are they engaging in insider trading? According to the text, the Electra owner IS a man of action. What do you think?
By the way, this is just for fun: Absurd answers are expected.
As long as it isn’t his daughter, it’s all good (including the advertisements)!
She’s a trophy wife. And that’s his trophy car. And he still can’t believe his good fortune. He stares at the sales brochure while he grins a the whole scene of his life, and she grins at him, equally happy with her own future… with or perhaps especially without him.
He’s been handed a brochure on holistic treatments for ED and the young lady is suggesting, “Frank, can we try it again, pleeease?!?!”
She is a dead ringer for Sam Jenkins in “Ed and His Dead Mother” an excellent retro movie. I am thinking she is showing him a life insurance policy she wants him to take out.
Bottom pic is the FDIC official talking to the new receiver of the bank they just took over. For them the Buick Electra was ideal – nobody became a high-level banker to drive a strippo Chevy II 100, but a Cadillac would send the wrong message.
Advanced Thrust Engineering. Hmmm. Does it also have nonconsensual fuel-injection?
This was actually the inspiration for “The Bandit” (as in “Smoky and…”). ElectraMan only takes his hat off for one thing.
These were great and wonderful cars for 1963. Top of the line right here.
My Parents had the Honey Gold one w Tan interior. Excellent Road Cars! 🙂
She is comforting her father after the wife/mother’s funeral.
The two guys with hats, maybe they’re standing in the lobby of a hat factory. “I tell you Jenkins, styles come and go but hats go on forever. It’s like printing money!”
Or the two hat guys are standing in the lobby of the hat factory in 1963.
“Business has really fallen off the last couple of years….. At least Frank still wears a hat on his album covers, showing real style and class, not like those beatnicks with their hair down over their shirt collars.”
The couple sitting on the grass is a species of people seen only in Brochureland. I love that picture’s absurdity.
The “Today’s Man of Action” ad was actually part of a series, and all the photos were taken in the same high-rise office building lobby. A few of the other pictures from this series are below:
He’s in between open heart bypass surgeries, and has just saved her fianceé, for which she is looking at him like her hero. He downplays his role, looking at the brochure to decide which model is the ideal one for his wife.
(I know, open heart bypass surgery was only a dream then, but anyway)
Grant: “Jim, I know you want to go upscale, but this new Buick of yours doesn’t even have tinted glass. Did you buy a plane Jane? No A/C, no AM/FM radio, no power equipment other than the standard windows?”
Jim, “Well, I…I…:
Grant: “Shoulda just bought a Pontiac optioned out, Jim.”
The bottom one is really weird – that top-down shot of two hat-wearing “men of action” though the only action seems to be talking to each other.
He just got the jury, pro bono, to release her aging father who had been in prison since 1920 accused of bootlegging. She was conceived during a short visit from her mother. He’s so well respected, he gets to park in the lawn in front of the courthouse. Again, she’s looking at him as her hero, and again, he’s thinking about what new Buick will he get for his wife’s birthday.
So, Sam, you take care of the brown jacket guy, and I’ll take care of the black one. I-ll leave in the Electra, you get the Olds. Meet you in Al’s in an hour
A slightly older Don Draper and Megan Draper. It’s straight out of Mad Men.
Or, like gray Roger Sterling and his 2nd wife, the young secretary he married, 😉
Or maybe Mad Men is straight out of this Buick brochure! Maybe Matthew Weiner was perusing his brochure collection for ideas and came across this picture! Mad Men was a great show, but after a while I wondered why I was pulling for Don Draper. He was the perfect anti-hero.
Or, vice versa.
Was Spray ‘n’ Wash invented in ’63? Gonna need it for the grass stains.
They are sitting behind the idling Electra inhaling fumes from high test gasoline while he thumbs through the ’63 Buick brochure wishing he bought a new Riviera instead.
Trophy wife. Reminds me of a famous politician and his wife.
Famed WWII hero Bob Dole and his young wife Libby, perhaps?
That guy actually does look a little like Bob Dole. Bob Dole parks where he wants!
Looks like Panama Red is back in town.
1963? Closer to Reefer Madness than Panama Red.
She looks like the winner of a beauty contest. Miss Airbrush of 1963.
He knocked her over while trying to find parking and is now consulting the first aid flyer that was in the glovebox
Top ad: Girl – “ I so enjoy these trips with you out to the country. Does your wife ever suspect?”
Bottom ad: Two executives talking about a higher level executive – “ … and that pretentious SOB made sure he showed off that new Cadillac to everyone at the club”
I have no young/old age scenario, but as a kind of reverse spin: I know of a guy who at the age of 18 for his first car bought a black ’68 Electra 225 4 dr. brand NEW! I can’t imagine a scenario where a normal 18 yr old would want one and not a Skylark GS muscle car for that kind of money at that young age. He worked in a garage to save up the $ and that’s what he bought… just plain weird in my book!
Maybe he thought a black Electra 225 would be invisible to the local constabulary? After all, it did have the 425…
And loads of room for the drive in and other shenanigans.
The two guys ad is the sales manager at the Buick store (tan jacket) and the other is the sales person. Manager is yelling at him because he didn’t sell a car that day. The Electra is the SM’s demo waiting to whisk him away after work.
First thought- They are lost, hence nothing but forest on the horizon. Pride won’t allow him to ask for directions. He’s looking down in humility being forced to listen to her and read a map. She’ looks up in triumph and affection as she now knows she wears the pants in this relationship.
Second thought- this is post coitus cuddling, or at least what is allowed in 60’s advertising. Many of us born in that era were probably conceived in the back of a Buick, and these two are expressing the accomplishment of their deed…differently.
The “Men of Action” are clearly assassins-for-hire enjoying a nice professional discussion, retro John Wick style.
“Can you believe it? 25 grand she offered me to whack her husband in the park. I felt kinda sorry for the guy, seeing as he’d just bought a new Electra and all. Still, a job’s a job.”
People looked different in the early 60s. Guy in the top photo could be 45, maybe a couple of years younger. There was a 12-year age difference between JFK and Jackie. Could she be 33?
The top photo is oddly meta – a brochure photo of someone reading a brochure. The woman is trying to show her affection and get his attention, but he’s nonetheless ignoring her and is wrapped up in that brochure. In all, a very unnatural pose that’s unconvincing of being any relatable real-life situation.
Those fedora wearing men will be in left lanes going 45 mph, in 20 years after pictures taken, 😉
“I tell ya’ Jake, I’ve got the photos here in my black bag. She was all over him, shoes off an’ everything. He took off his wedding ring. Give him a call, I’m sure we can score some big cash from this deal, maybe enough to buy each of us one of those great new Buicks”.
“Dear, it will be several decades before car mags have ads about ED remedies. Let’s try it on the grass instead of the back seat.”
She’s looking at him wondering when the poison she put in his martini at lunch is going to kick in. She’s not looking at her aging husband. She is looking at her inheritance.
The hat guys? It looks like espionage (industrial or otherwise) to me.
And, as a double insurance sort of thing, the man is her father-in-law with whom she’s been having a torrid affair – before she poisoned him. Her husband is the only heir and she’s a gold digger.
Little does she know she’s also pregnant by the father-in-law but she would later pass off the child as her husband’s. This was before DNA testing and the child was going to have a resemblance to her husband anyway.
Then, two years later, her husband realizes he’s raising his half-brother as as his son due to her duplicity. That’s where the other two guys enter into this, as they are the private investigators the husband has hired.
Or something like this.
Hey Vinnie. We can put three bodies in trunk.
Hey Vinnie, Let’s go dig some holes in the desert first…
“Darling, read me that part about ‘Advanced Thrust Engineering’ one more time – you know how I love it so…”
Vis-a-vis the gentleman’s lack of a wedding ring… wedding rings for men were not the de facto standard in this era. I’m not sure why – perhaps some men felt that wearing any jewelry was effeminate? My father never owned or wore a wedding ring.
I’m pretty sure the lady is wearing a ring.
Interesting about the retouched license plate… it is based on the 56-58 Michigan “Water Wonderland” plate, although the year is retouched to “63”
The ’62-’64 plates were very dark green letters on a white background, so it’s mostly correct for 1963, but they did touch up the fact that the 63 in the corner should be on a separate green tab
Here’s what the plate looks like on my brochure.
1963 was first year Electras had different trunk styling than LeSabre/Wildcat/Invicta, so first picture is promoting it, vs. a front or side view.
She’s had work done on her face. Note her slight middle-age paunch. Ten years age difference at most.
The floor is porcelain, used in high traffic public buildings. I made the mistake of putting it in one of my rental houses. Yeah, it wears like iron but cleaning it is a PITA. That’s why you see motorized floor cleaners in public establishments.
“Bob, when I told you that I wanted to suck the chrome off of your trailer hitch, I didn’t mean to swallow it.”
Men if action? just sold him a load of pure, Buick included, look in the trunk.
I haven’t laughed like this in a while, they remind me of my grandma and my step grandpa!
He was born in 1920, she was born in 1940.
He owned a succesful cookie factory in Amsterdam from the 50’s until the 90’s when he sold it.
This allowed him to buy a new car every two years which for a few decades happend to be… a new Buick!
Aaron now you know that atleast one Buick owner lived just like in that brochure in the same time period. Sadly we likely didn’t get that brochure here.
Mr DeLorean went undercover, but still acted to type…
225 inches long
Even if it was a typo, and actually 225 mm, it would be more than adequate, I’m told.
Little nuance in the lead pic. Old guys can get it, if you buy an Electra. Look at his hands. They look even older than his face. lol They made no effort to make him appear younger. They wanted him to be very relatable to Buick buyers. The expression on her face deliberately says unrealistic adoration. Fantasy for some men.
Having worked in advertising, this pic cuts right to the chase. Very manipulative for sure. Hilarious.
These are great.
Axe body spray totally ripped off Hai Karate; just replace the middle aged guy with some high school kid.
preparing suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
I love these Buicks .
You guys never fail to impress in the comments =8-) .
The left guy, at first glance I thought was holding a pipe, I used to like that .
Agreed that this advert is aimed squarely at the middle aged guy who can finally afford a decent car and has wild dreams .
He took his new Electra to a quiet place to read the owner’s manual.
When he gets to the part about the spare tire and opens the trunk
There she is!
He’s trying to find if she is mentioned in the owner’s manual.
Maybe he’s playing hard to get. (He said “hard”).
I loved all the above responses. However, as someone who grew up with parents who collected marriage licenses, I go with trophy wife. This ad brought back memories: My father at 42 driving off to Cape Cod with his 29 year old secretary to get married in his new 73 Thunderbird. Then on the other side my 37 year old mother who was often mistaken for Grace Kelly driving off in her 76 Fiat Spider with her 27 year old photographer boyfriend. Not quite a trophy wife anymore, more like Mrs. Robinson.
He’s a “Bachelor Father”, as portrayed in the eponymous TV sitcom from the ’50s by John Forsythe, who assumes responsibility for raising his niece (Noreen Corcoran) when her parents are killed in an automobile accident (NOT in a 1963 Buick, one assumes, as the series ran from 1957-1961). Forsythe drove a Chrysler New Yorker Convertible throughout the series.
I doubt the art director would have chosen such a suggestive pose (curvy) for the woman, if it wasn’t meant to portray a romantic element.
What they were thinking…
After trying since their honeymoom, Mrs. Rev. Dr. Lloyd Andrews, share the exciting news with Rev. Dr. Lloyd Andrews that “the rabbit died”.
2nd photo: A pigeon’s eye view of new Buick drivers.
Which guy in “ad#2” is the “man of action”?
My father had a 63 Electra. He bought it brand new. Very proud of that car. He loved it. There is 8mm film of it on my parents honeymoon. I still have the original bill of sale & the word – Electra 225 – from the dashboard. Fond memories of riding in the back seat.
The 63 had the Best looks of the 60s Buicks. My parents also had one. It was Mother’s car. (Great Road Cars also)🙂
First, I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. My block had mostly Chevys, Pontiacs and Dodge/Chrysler products, rarely ever a snazzy Buick like this — My dad had ’62 and ’67 Impalas. BUT, this Electra is a classic 9mpg boat that we adore! Secondly, when I see the ad, I think: “Mad Men – Weekend Retreat”. He is and older exec with a son in college. His wife is living with her sick mother back in Pennsylvania. The gal in the photo is the older sister of one of his son’s university friends who wants some action (…and daddy’s $). And… The guys in hats photo is total Mad Men at the end of the work day. It’s noir with a touch of Technicolor.
He’s trying to find one of the 17 positions from the karma sutra. The problem is he realizes it’s the owners manual to the Buick and he’s thinking what happened to the sex position book? She’s excited about this…
The man of action is saying how come this damn photographer always takes our picture from above our heads?