Here’s a couple of ads from 1968, of GM touting its styling excellence. I find this first batch to be a wee bit questionable, as both the Toronado and Riviera were basically two years old and had questionable chrome loop bumpers grafted on their front ends. There’s probably a reason they showed the back end of the Toro, although that would be defaced in 1969. And the Grand Prix? Where’s the ’68 GTO? That was the by far the freshest car in the lineup in 1968, along with the new Corvette.
Ah, here it is, along with the Eldorado. And a Corvair! In 1968? It already had three of its independently suspended wheels in the grave by 1968. Hardly “further ahead”.
that particular Grand Prix was the most unfortunate-looking iteration
The 68 Grand Prix is like the Jaguar XJS: It’s a cool sketch that just didn’t work in metal with practical proportions. The wide, skirted rear quarters make the car look like it’s parked on flat tires even when it’s moving.
At least the Jaguar’s proportions communicate that it’s exotic, extravagant, and expensive, even if it’s covered with bad decisions. The 68 Grand Prix communicates that it’s a failed attempt to do something special with a Catalina.
Agreed. The 1968 Grand Prix always struck me as bulbous, and it seemed like it tried unsuccessfully to blend American muscle and Continental European themes.
This reminds me of the great car-casting in Goodfellas, specifically, Henry Hill’s cars. In the very first scene, he has a 1968 Grand Prix (with Billy Batts in the trunk) which reappears later. In flashbacks, he has a 1966 Newport convertible.
I liked the black Eldo in the opening scene of “Casino”. Perfect setting.
I’d have to go back and look, but I think it was a ’68.
They made one anachronistic mistake. They have the guys posing on a ’65 Chevy in 1963.
IMO, the ’68 (and 69) Riviera was less dramatic and intriguing than the 1966 and ’67 models – my favorite BTW.
Why no GTO or any of the other new A-bodies? I dunno. They were quite a departure from the ’66-’67 model is terms of appearance. But, new Corvette.
The Corvair photo was GM giving Ralph Nadar the finger. Even the most ardent of safety Nazis would have to admit it was a good looking car whatever other faults they might claim it possessed. Kind of like a handsome serial killer to those folks.
Not just the photo, but the copy that touts that experts (ie not Ralph) lauded its excellent handling.
Even Ralph admitted in the book the ’65 Corvair solved the problems he complained about. Then he tried to use that to prove GM knew the first-gen car was tragically flawed. If it was so good, why improve it?
Nader had much more influence in government regulation of the entire industry than he had in killing the Corvair. The Corvair was doomed over the long term simply because it was a design dead end. It had a unique engine shared with no other line and even Volkswagen was in the process of abandoning the rear engine layout. The future for smaller cars was front drive.
Also, the rear-engine, air-cooled Beetle was still in vogue, so they’re reminding readers that GM can do that, too, in a graceful, modern car.
Actually, GM gave Nader $425,000 plus a humiliating public apology by GM president James Roche for their ham fisted attempts to smear him.
Let’s be grownups, eh!
The magazines, especially Car and Driver, used that term regularly.
Those who work to make automobiles and traffic kill and maim fewer people are pretty well the opposite of the bloodthirsty, evil, genocidal Nazis, so thoughtful grownups (whether writing in a magazine or in the comment section of a website) do not equate the two.
Soup nazi was a punchline from the biggest sitcom on nbc from 30 years ago, thoughtful grownups should be able to separate the figurative from the literal.
30 years ago, yep. Live and learn (at least some people do; others don’t).
Learn what? Spend 10 minutes on the biggest platforms on the internet and you’ll find the continued unchecked casual use of the word nazi by self proclaimed thoughtful adults. It’s Godwin’s law.
A random commenter saying “safety nazi” is a far cry from a corporation using Native American imagery on product marketing, that’s exploitation. Safety nazi, soup nazi, grammar nazi (that’s one I’ve been on the receiving end of as a forum moderator/administrator plenty) and so on just trivializes/lampoons fascist tendencies and that doesn’t seem like a bad thing.
All of the ads touting GM’s advanced styles are facelifts of old designs. There were 4 flavors of the new A bodies (with the GTO as the style leader) and the new Nova to go with the Corvette. I think this reeks of the outdated thinking of “the 14th floor” at GM. I’m a little amazed that a DeVille convertible isn’t shown.
And yes, the less said about the Corvair in 1968 the better.
I know everyone hated the Corvair by 1968 but I still liked it, it looked sporty to my eyes then .
My 1968 Malibu 700 four door was a good looking and well handing good running “low cost” (MEANS : cheap) car .
GM ~ snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for decades .
GTO was the performance model of the Tempest/LeMans A body series. The plastic Endura bumper and hide-away headlights were options, and only thing different stylistically than other A’s. Some ’68 GTO’s had the chrome bumper and no hide-aways, believe it or not.
Calling one car model the “style leader” is purely subjective. Some will say the ’67 GTO was “better looking”, and on and on for other models.
I wonder if someone at GM got the wild idea to push older (but potentially more profitable) cars in a couple of cheap-to-produce ads. For one thing, notice that there’s zero background settings or good-looking people. And then they’re combining various higher-priced cars from different divisions in a sort of catch-all. The only one that’s truly out of place is the Corvair. That’s a strange one to include in those groups, to be sure.
Ads like that would certainly be less expensive to create than, say, some of those wild Goat ads, including the one with the picture of a GTO waiting at one of those famous Woodward Avenue turnarounds with the caption, “You know the rest of the story”.
It was a none-too-thinly-veiled reference to street racing. GM did, indeed, “know the rest of the story” as that ad only ran once.
Upon further thought, I’m going to guess that GM threw the Corvair in there simply to have it in ‘something’. They didn’t want to devote an entire ad to a car that was on its last legs so, in an effort to give it some final ‘buzz’, put it in the background with two of GM’s flashier rides.
I’m drawing a blank on this first picture. I know the gold colored one is a Toronado. And I think the blueish one towards the front is a Buick (Riv?). But I just can’t figure out what that green one towards the back is. I see several comments about Pontiac, so is that what it is?
68 Pontiac Grand Prix. One-year body because it was hideous and unsalable.
Thanks Scampman. I thought (after reading the comments) that it must have been a Pontiac, but I would NEVER have thought a Grand Prix. I actually don’t mind the looks of it, but not as a GP.
I don’t think the ’68 was a one-year-only. The 1967 has a very different front end and most of them seem to be convertibles (cancelled for 1968), but if a 1967 Grand Prix hardtop is viewed from the side, it sure looks like the same sheetmetal as the ’68.
The standard Pontiac bodies are the same for 67 and 68, but the 67 Grand Prix just has the hallmark concave roof on a regular Catalina lower. It was sufficiently standard to offer a Catalina convertible trimmed as a Grand Prix.
It was also the last GP built on the full-size chassis. It was built on the A-body chassis starting in 1969. John DeLorean supervised its conversion to a lighter (by 800 pounds), tighter, sharper package.
These subject/picture selections were probably made by the bean-counter GM executives, who knew nothing about car design.
I totally get the advertisement.as its touting the flagships of each division…..don’t understand the Corvair however.
Plus the Corvette was only in its second year of a pretty daring design at the time and the Cadillac, Toronado and Riviera were only in their third year very good looking coupes.
GM was still at the top of their game under Bill Mitchell and were the design leaders.
The copy mentions hidden wipers, which debuted in ’68. Do we know what magazine this is? That might give a clue to the choice of vehicles.
The print touts ventless windows(a big FU to GM for that), which the 68 A bodies still sported, so maybe that was why the GTO wasn’t included? Then again the Corvair never got rid of them either, so maybe not
The Eldorado and Corvette are the only ones that really deserve to be there, (the Corvair is beautiful but old) but the hard truth is GM really didn’t hit many stylistic home runs after 68, the 69 Grand Prix/Monte Carlo, the 70 Camaro and the 75 Seville are about all I can credit being influential, the rest of their designs weren’t better than what Ford or Chrysler were doing
Why a Grand Prix instead of the GTO? I wonder if it’s might be a foreshadowing of things to come for 1969 and the 1970s?
The Corvair is the biggest surprise to me, because I’ve frequently read that all advertising for that car was pulled in 1967 and onward. The dealers didn’t even stock Corvair brochures in 1969.
The Corvette had a removable rear window? That’s news to me. I take it the later fastback C3s deleted that feature.
1972 was the last year for the removable rear window.
I’ve heard various reasons as to why it was eliminated, most often that they leaked or that the absence of the rear window caused wind buffeting.
GM had many ads, this particular ad show cased the personal luxury cars of B.O.P. The GTO would be found in other ads.
Heck, I’d argue that the 68 Corvair had all 4 wheels in the grave and was buried up to its axles. Total production was <16,000 units. I'd argue there were only a couple valid reasons to keep building it – either to thumb their nose at Nader or to use up parts that were stockpiled.
Midway through the '69 MY, the Corvair was being produced on the same line with Nova and was totally messing up Nova production – so badly that they took Corvair off the line and all units were hand-assembled beginning late '68.
I guess they used the GP because it was the closest Pontiac had to a Riviera/Toronado equivalent from a marketing point of view. But I can’t imagine anybody cross-shoping those two against a GP. Definitely not a looker.
The ad with the Corvair in it reminds me of the ones from a few years earlier for Cadillac that featured the current offering and would have a two year old Cadillac usually in the background (much like our featured Corvair) to promote the preowned Cadillac’s available for sale at your Cadillac dealer. I can only guess that this ad was an experiment in marketing that highlighted some radical engineering that the Corvair had over the contemporary models that were selling much better and didn’t need the sales push.
Love me that red “Corvair”!!
I’ve been thinking about how odd putting the Corvair in with the Eldorado and Corvette seems, at first. But maybe another way to look at it is how exotic the Corvair still was, even in 1968.
I mean, what other car would have fit in with the most premier, personal vehicles that GM offered? They’d already covered their other PLCs in that other ad, so they’re all out.
Commenters (indeed, even the author) has suggested it should have been the GTO, and there was also the 2nd year ponycar Camaro and Firebird. But are those cars really on the same level as the Corvair in 1960?
Frankly, it seems like the third car in the picture should have been something like the ‘rope-drive’ 1961 Tempest if Pontiac was still building them in 1968.
It’s also noteworthy in how the Corvair is in the background and oriented as if it’s driving away, a none-too-subtle way of saying, “look, we know the Corvair is on the way out, but in it’s day, it was an engineering tour de force, just like the Eldorado and Corvette are today”.