By on August 15, 2012

Last week, Jalopnik ran a story bemoaning the loss of Joel Ewanick, complete with some appropriately DeLorean-esque winks towards possible conspiracy and a note that Mr. Ewanick just busted out a $1.4 million mortgage for a home in Detroit. This doesn’t seem like a good deal; surely $1.4 mil should get you, oh, I don’t know, 1,400 homes in Detroit.

What was so great about the guy who apparently green-lit “Chevy Runs Deep”? Perhaps a look into what GM once considered to be good marketing copy will offer some insight.

The image at the header of this story is part of the catalogue for 1972′s full-sized Chevrolets. Most of the text is pretty standard garbage:

We’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. They can help you settle on what you might settle in much faster than words alone can.

The phrase “settle for” is not entirely nimbly avoided here.

Just keep in mind that all the Impalas you see here have all the important Impala features we’ve talked about

Those features include — I kid you not — dual windshield wipers and frame rails with strategically-drilled drain holes to let the rust out.

And keep in mind Bel Air.

When I went out the door on dates with my high-school girlfriend, my mother used to shriek, “And keep in mind all the things you could catch!” It made me tremble a bit during the very chaste good-night kisses, I tell you, just wondering what the hell was likely to happen. So, keep in mind Bel Air.

Now don’t get the idea it’s an Impala that didn’t quite make it

WTF

Bel Air is Bel Air.

Is that so.

It’s its own car.

How so, exactly? Like, it’s attained consciousness? And really, I hadn’t thought about the idea that a Bel Air was an Impala that didn’t quite make it until YOU PUT IT IN MY HEAD. Now I’m envisioning the following scene:

An ASSEMBLY LINE in DETROIT. A wide variety of AUTOWORKERS are passed out drunk, or copiously vomiting, or engaged in sabotage of the monstrous hulks which slouch listlessly along, suspended by rusted metal jaws from a chain that jerks periodically like a roller coaster lift chain at a third-tier country fail. Only two men are upright and sober: a RANDOM WORKER and an IMPALA QUALITY INSPECTOR. As a large CHEVROLET wobbles past, the IMPALA QUALITY INSPECTOR takes notes.

RANDOM WORKER: How about ol’ 876102 here? Did she make the grade? Is she… an Impala?

IMPALA QUALITY INPSPECTOR: (shaking head sadly, slowly) No. She didn’t quite make it.

RANDOM WORKER: Then that means…

IMPALA QUALITY INSPECTOR: Bel Air.

RANDOM WORKER: Fuck. We haven’t managed to knock out an Impala yet this week. And it’s Thursday.

IMPALA QUALITY INSPECTOR: Not to mention a Caprice.

RANDOM WORKER: Yeah, but who’s stupid enough to buy one of those?

Just to make sure you get the point about the Bel Air, it’s presented in that unique shade of olive that those of us who grew up in the Seventies will forever associate with three-millimeter-deep cracks in the lacquer finish. That’s right. The Bel Air sucks.

If only GM had known Joel Ewanick back in the day. He would have had Bel Air sales through the roof, courtesy of a tie-in with Jalopnik or a Special Advertising Video featuring Jean Jennings. Plus he would have put it on social media, which back in those days meant waiting for Bob Guccione to come up with OMNI Magazine so the Bel Air could have its own weird personal classified ad.

Next to this stuff, “Chevy Runs Deep” seems bad in a pretty tame way, like the singer who swears during “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” in that one movie. But as bad as Chevrolet was, Cadillac was worse. Here’s proof:

Cadillac! The Spirit Of The Seventies! But wait a minute… the Seventies also sucked! Much harder than the 1970 Cadillac!

I tell you, that Ewanick guy is worth whatever they paid him.

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83 Comments on “Great Moments In GM History: The Bel Air Was “An Impala That Didn’t Quite Make It”...”


  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    “Third-tier country fail” is an entirely apt typographical error.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    If the Bel Air wasn’t cheap enough, there was still a Biscayne for 1972. It was pretty much only a fleet/taxi model, so I’m not surprised it wasn’t in the retail brochure. Most came with the 250 I-6. 1972 was the last year for the Biscayne in the US.

    Also of note… in 1972 you could still order a Biscayne with the I-6 and three-on-the-tree! I bet that’s pretty rare, though.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      I saw one at a classic car dealer once, it was pretty rusted out and just generally used up. I had to to a double take on the clutch and column shifter combo, it seemed unbelievable that a car from 1972 would have a 3spd on the tree. I believe this was the last car made outside the Soviet bloc to offer a column shifted manual. I think ZAZ and Trabant held on for a while yet though.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      1973 was the dead last year for manual trans BelAir with 250 ci 6.

      For 1977, the I6 returned, but with THM350 auto only

    • 0 avatar

      I had the 250 I-6 in a 73 Nova. It was a great engine, under rated for power and quality. I still recall running at a sustained 90 mph with only a small thrum. (The Escort detector was worth more than the car ! I miss full on X band !!)

      Of course, in the age of cheap gas and huge V8 power, it was overlooked. I always wanted to drive the hotted up Pontiac version which had a 4 bbl and headers.

    • 0 avatar
      st1100boy

      My dad ORDERED a ’78 GMC van (long wheelbase) w/ a 305 and three speed on the column. That thing stayed in the family well into the ’90s before being sold. Driving friends in high school was fun, and freaked out some passengers as they had never seen a column shifter, especially in a van.

      It actually got respectable mileage for a 5000lb ’70s van: about 18mpg cruising at 60mph.

      The speedo and odo conked out sometime around ’89, so I’m not sure how many miles it had when finally sold off in the early ’90s. A little over 100k I suppose. Original clutch and smooth shifting, except on the coldest days in North Dakota. Then it was very stiff shifting, and you did NOT want to have to come back across the H from 2nd to first…hint: use two hands, or just start in 2nd (it didn’t mind).

      • 0 avatar
        Ben

        A friend in high school used to drive his mum’s 1979 Holden Kingswood with a “3 on the tree” manual.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holden_HZ

        Some fine Australian engineering right there.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      The column-mounted manual shifter disappeared in North America by the mid 1980s, last appearing in the 1987 Chevrolet pickup truck. ~ Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_transmission

  • avatar
    j3studio

    “third-tier country _fail_” ?

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Jack did you look up the price of that 71 Bel Air?

    My guess is around $3200 plus, which was a lot a lot bucks back then and about a couple of hundred more than a Biscayne. The Biscayne was definitely a fleet queen of its day. So, you could go even lower.

    By the way, that 70 Coupe de Ville was a proper car, much nicer than what came later in the mid-70′ies.

  • avatar

    Really Jack? Does it not occur to you that in 1969 a slogan like “Spirit of the 70s” was actually forward looking, “now” and up to the minute? I mean, it wasn’t until the phasing out of unleaded, and then the fuel crisis that the 1970s look anything but better than the 60s.

    And yeah the Impala/Bel Air copy is really bad, but no one in 1971 would have had any bad connotations of that “Avocado” color. That green along with the “Harvest Gold” were colors on the rise in popularity for kitchen appliances, so again people though it was a very now thing.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    Driving one of those was like floating on a raft down the river.

    • 0 avatar
      77MGB

      Yes indeed. In ’86, when I was 19 I had the good fortune to “inherit” my great aunt’s ’72 LeSabre coupe. She was one of the few persons wise enough to know when she’d gotten too old to drive, so she sold it to me for $1. It had 35k miles on it and except for a number of small dents in the front bumper where she kept nudging into the light pole in her favorite parking space at the Piggly Wiggly, it was cherry. There was room enough to do all kinds of things inside that car, and punching the throttle felt as much like piloting a locomotive on the road as anything I’ve ever driven – tons of fun on rails. Ok it wasn’t a Chevy so a bit off-topic, but then again not really.

  • avatar
    david42

    The factory scene is brilliant.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The “Spirit of the Seventies” tagline was dreamed up in 1969…when no one had any idea that the 1970s would ultimately become synonymous with “Malaise Era.”

    As for the backhanded reference to the Bel Air – the ad copywriters probably did that on purpose. GM WANTED you to buy the Impala – or, even better yet, the Caprice. If you were enough of the tightwad to actually demand the cheaper Bel Air instead of its plusher and more profitable siblings, GM was going to make you feel guilty, or like a failure, or both.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The Bel-Air did become second-fiddle after the glamorous Impala came out in the 1958 MY.

    By my spotty memory, the last time a Bel-Air was anything memorable style-wise, was the 1962 bubble-top version that a buddy in the air force owned in 1970. The only time I owned a Bel-Air was my second car I bought in November 1968, that unique two-door floating roof sedan.

    So, in a way, the Bel-Air indeed was an Impala that “didn’t quite make it” after all…

    My recently-sold 2004 Impala, being a base model w/sport appearance upgrade was in spirit a Bel-Air and should have been marketed that way. The Impala was the LS-and-up version.

    If my old Impala didn’t have the “Impala” nameplate molded into the dash on the passenger side, I would have changed the outward identity to “Bel-Air” just to be different. That not being the case, I embellished that car to make it more akin to dad’s 1966 Impala sports sedan trim and option-wise. It did and still does stand out unique to most other 2000-2005 years.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      So, in a way, the Bel-Air indeed was an Impala that “didn’t quite make it” after all…

      Yep, I don’t think the 250 Turbo-thrift was available on an Impala in 1972 Plus, the Powerglide automatic was an additional charge – which means someone, somewhere had a Bel Air with a 3 on the column manual.

      • 0 avatar
        Juniper

        Old and Slow Apparently your memory is starting to fail you. Lots of cars in 72 had 3 on the tree. It was 40 friggin years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        Juniper – In the ultra barge automotive segment – by 72 – I doubt that many Impalas would have been fitted with a 250 six and a three on a tree manual. The Impala was competing with the likes of the Fury III.

        The Bel Air was more of a Fury II. The Biscayne was like a government issue Fury.

        No doubt there were plenty of cars sold with a six and a three on the tree in the intermediate and compact segments.

      • 0 avatar
        Juniper

        Yea I know I was there, you said Bel Air. I said Cars. The larger and more optioned the car the fewer 3 on the tree but they were not uncommon.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        My job, among others was to hook speedometer cables to the transmission in 1972. Yes, they came with 3 speed standards. In 73 they changed them to South American export only.

    • 0 avatar
      Juniper

      Yes the 62 Bel Air bubble top with the 2-4 409 and 4 spd was a seriously nice car to have in 62. Worth bragging about and could back it up.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      “My recently-sold 2004 Impala, being a base model w/sport appearance upgrade was in spirit a Bel-Air and should have been marketed that way. The Impala was the LS-and-up version.”

      No. Your old Impala replaced the Lumina, which replaced the Celebrity, which replaced the Malibu. If anything, it’s like a Chevelle Deluxe or Malibu. Your new one is a Malibu Concours or Malibu Classic.

      Likewise, the new Malibu is a Nova. Chevy screwed the pooch on the model hierarchy when they killed the B-body after 1996. Had GM not had so many redundant brands for so long, maybe Chevrolet could have gotten the H-body flagship Caprice/Impala it deserved in 1986. Or 1992. Or 1997. Etc. But no. Instead, they tried to pass off a string of cheesy W-bodies as their top sedan, secretly hoping buyers would buy a Tahoe instead. Now, nobody wants a Tahoe and Chevrolet cars have almost no appeal in a highly badge-conscious marketplace.

      The one thing they have going for them is that the “Impala” name seems to sell itself.

      I haven’t forgiven Lutz the Putz for killing the LeSabre/Park Avenue and the nearly 50 year lineage that went with them, either.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Ameeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnn!!!

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        ‘Instead, they tried to pass off a string of cheesy W-bodies as their top sedan, secretly hoping buyers would buy a Tahoe instead.’

        Because of bulls#!% CAFE standards. CAFE is the only reason the SUV as we know it exists, remember…

        The Panther was the last of its breed. The big RWD American (built in Canada) car. Maybe Fiatsler LX (300, Charger, Challenger, et. al.) is the closest to it now, but with absence of BOF architecture, well…

  • avatar

    Wow, thanks for validating my decision to never again voluntarily read that one website. That linked Ewanick “analysis” is emblematic of what happens every time that particular network tries to write anything even remotely “serious” Headline that writes checks the content can’t even begin to cash? Check. Incoherent thesis? Check. Repeating rumors without actually investigating them? Check. Citing cherry-picked blog comments as “evidence” in hopes that readers will mistake this for “investigation”? Check.

    There are a lot of opinions about Ewanick, but Jack’s point about context is incredibly important. It’s easy to complain about how lame you think “Chevy Runs Deep” is, but you’ve got to consider what it replaced. To use a more current frame of reference than Jack, Chevy’s taglines since “American Revolution” debuted in 2004 have been “May The Best Car Win” (used by all GM brands) and “Excellence For Everyone.” Compared to those gems, “Chevy Runs Deep” is a world-beating tagline… although I think Jack’s “bad in a tame way” metaphor is about as accurate an analysis as you can ask for.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      And to be fair, Ewanick may have been delivering a tagline that the boss wanted to hear.

      This whole notion that GM is supposed to position itself as does Apple is the mentality that drives the creation of a slogan such as “Chevy Runs Deep.” Instead of pitching the product as a product, they’re trying to turn Chevy into a sort of cultural icon that makes the product connect with the consumer as being something more than just a vehicle.

      The Apple thing is misplaced. With GM’s brands as tarnished as they are, the branding message should be more credible and straightforward:

      -The cars are reliable, modern, and up-to-date
      -You’ll like driving them
      -These cars won’t break (but if they do, then we’ll be really good about fixing them for you)
      -If you park one in your driveway, your neighbors will respect and envy your choice, instead of wrinkling their noses and laughing at you

      When Apple starts selling computers for $25,000 that can get your kids to school, that’s when GM should start behaving like Apple. But until then, Toyota would provide a much better role model.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Yeah “How GM Kills Innovation” is a particularly hyperbolic headline for that article.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      “the new American Revolution” always made me think the revolution was “Hecho En Mexico”.

  • avatar

    If the Bel Air was an Impala that didn’t make it, what does that make the Biscayne?

    Actually, I would love to see the Biscayne come back. Large car, but with rubber floor mats, flat bench seat so the car would hold 6, no fancy stuff at all. Just a large car for hauling people.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      A $23k WT-trim Silverado or Sierra Crew Cab is probably as close as you’ll get.

      • 0 avatar

        This was the reason I specified “car”, and not “vehicle”. I know that you can get a truck that way, but not cars. A decade or so ago, you could still get a bare-bones car, but it was always a little car. Bigger always meant “luxury”. Back in the 60′s, you could get a full sized, 6 passenger car with no options that was also cheap. From ’66 to ’72, you could get (in descending order) a Chevy Caprice, Impala, BelAir or Biscayne. All the same full-sized car, but different trim levels. The Biscayne itself went from 1958 to 1972.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “This was the reason I specified “car”, and not “vehicle”. I know that you can get a truck that way, but not cars.”

        That’s why I wrote “probably as close as you’ll get” not “exactly what you want”. Pick ups have pretty much replaced full-sizers in all but luxury applications (as you mentioned).

        Just out of curiosity, why do you prefer the stripper full-sizer to the stripper truck?

      • 0 avatar

        (I’ve had to reply up here because the comment section only goes a couple of layers deep in replies).

        Because a family shouldn’t have to get a truck just to haul around their 3 kids. Trucks are too big, they’re wasteful not only of materials but fuel. There’s no reason why Suzy Homemaker should have to haul 20 feet of truck and bed to pick up the kiddies at school or go grocery shopping.

        Trucks only became popular as personal transportation back around 1977 when big cars started to seriously downsize. Before that, a family wouldn’t consider a truck for everyday transportation (unless you lived in Texas).

        Personally, I have to wonder why no one has tried making a small-wide car (except for the AMC Pacer) that will allow comfortable 3 across seating. Width gives the impression of a bigger car to the driver.

        I know that talk like this will get me shot in Texas (where I live), but I’ve been driving small cars since 1980, and have driven an ’01 Golf since 2001, and it’s all the car I’ve ever needed. Even if I had three kids and a wife, I wouldn’t need to haul around a 7ft bed everywhere I go while getting 11 mpgs.

    • 0 avatar
      jellybean

      Hooray for Biscayne! We had one when I was a kid, a big green (ex-police car) painted metallic green. It had a black vinyl interior and was powered by a 327 with the Posi-trac rear-end. The Bel Air seemed swanky along side it.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    I always thought that “Bel Air” was the high-end trim. In the 50s, you got the 210, or stepped up to the Bel Air. I was born in 1977, and my dad was in the car business, but worked with Fords and Mazdas in the 80s…didn’t get to Chevy until the 90s, so I had no experience with many GMs of the 70s or 80s, but the 50s nostalgia in the 80s got me interested in the tri-chevys.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Through ’57 there was also the 150, best described as a 210 with everything comfortable about it stripped out. No sunvisors, no armrests on the doors, rubber mats on the floor, etc. I think there was also a business coupe (well, business 2-door sedan) too.

  • avatar

    that Ewanick guy was a pompous nitwit. I know.

  • avatar
    Ted Grant

    I along with K5ING miss the Biscayne. My 68 Biscayne 2 door sedan didn’t even have a switch for the dome light on the passenger side. Still it had a 427 and a 140 MPH speedo. The ultimate go fast cheap car.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I recall coming across that old Caddy ad in some National Geographic back in grade school. Even when I was all of 12 years old, i thought that was pretty damn hilarious. And what was with the old blue-hair in the wheelchair? They really had the demographic nailed.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      Umm, that’s not a “wheelchair” and the lady has a 60′s blonde up-do*, looks about 35-40ish. People my parent’s age at the time. Not every person in 1969-70 was a “Woodstock Hippie”.

      and Cadillac was not an “old folks car”…..yet.

      *Yeah, the clothes and hair are dated now, duh, but this is a nice ad for the time.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I remember those Cadillac ads from that time. The car was photographed at an angle that made it look bigger than it’s already battleship like dimensions. In the corner was a superimposed 50ish guy with either a captain’s hat and a sailboat in the background, or a cap and pipe (Bing Crosby look). If there was a woman, she was blonde, 28-35, and in white formal wear. (2nd wife)
    I always wondered if they looked as goofy to the target demographic as the Maverick/Dart/Nova ads with the “young swingers” did to people in their 20s.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    I just can’t get over the size and shape of these monsters. And they were made of… metal! Just imagine the sound when they smashed into each other, compared to today’s sissy cars. BLAAAANNGGG!!!

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I don’t even understand what you said, but I think I and my avatar resent it. But I’m easily confused.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    How about this one–
    for 1958, you could get a Chevy “Yeoman” wagon. My uncle had one. It had a 283 with 3 on the tree and overdrive. It only had 28,000 miles on it by 1975, mainly because nobody wanted to drive it. it had no radio, no heater and a cardboard interior with rubber floor mats.
    My cousin was absolutely mortified when uncle #1 loaned it to uncle #2 (her stepdad) so said cousin could go to a 4H convention. Imagine pulling up to the Statler Hilton in Dallas in a nearly 20 year old strippo car–my cousin never forgave uncle #1 or uncle #2 for that event…it seemed like a conspiracy to me, especially since stepdad had a ’63 Riv and a ’71 Buick wagon during those years…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hell even the cop cars have power windows now a days…

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    I know kids don’t understand, but Big 3 used to use whole names for trim levels. So they go “What’s a Biscayne? It looks like an Impala?” And the top of the line was usually on bottom within a decade, or so.

    Thus, there was no title of “IMPALA QUALITY INSPECTOR”, they were “Chevrolets”.

    By ’72, Impalas were the mainstream ‘appliance car’ of the time. No SS versions. Caprice was starting to catch more buyers. According to sales #’s, 72 big Chevy was biggest seller of the 71-76 generation. More Chevy buyers went to Colonnades for ’73.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    And one more thing, title should say, ‘Impala, a Caprice that didnt make it’

  • avatar
    msquare

    Remember too that the full-size Chevys (and Pontiacs, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Fords, Plymouths, etc) never carried a model designation. The names were trim levels. The full size Chevrolet was the Chevrolet. There was even a TV commercial for the 1964 lineup that called it the “Chevrolet Chevrolet.” Note also how much time is devoted to the full-size car in the ad. It wasn’t until the first energy crisis that the full-size cars stopped being the anchor of the lineup, though that may have just as much to do with them getting too big. Fuel economy with the emissions-strangled V8′s was pretty bad no matter what car you put them in.

    As for three-on-the-tree, I’m sure a handful made it out the door, but it was listed in the brochures primarily to keep the advertised base price down and/or boost the advertised EPA mileage ratings. Sure, they were able to squeeze 30 mpg highway out of a Volare in ’76, but it had a slant six and a manual. Hardly a mainstream choice by then

  • avatar
    Terry

    In my area of St Louis in the ’60s, the police had 427 Biscaynes. Pretty fast for a big beast.
    When I started watching cars trying to memorize names and models(late ’50s/early’60s) I remember seeing several Chevrolet Del Rays, the model below the Biscayne.

  • avatar
    marc

    I’d be more concerned about the punctuation error in the Cadillac ad. You’d think it was written by a blogger.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    i learned to drive on a 1972 chevrolet impala 2 door coupe in green with a green interior and a vinyl roof. 350 2bbl and a 3 speed hydromatic transmission. someone earlier described this vehicle as a raft going down the river and that is an apt description. i still enjoyed it. loved that bench seat and all the room to put my legs. i could do long drives with the left foot and rest the right foot on top of the tranny hump. alas, there was no cruise control. that car took the family from detroit to nova scotia, yellowstone, around lake superior, and the great smokey mountains in successive summers all while pulling a pop-up camper. malaise era? perhaps but still good memories.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Thats funny as hell…

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Growing up in the 50′s, my parents always purchased Chevrolets; we
    had, I believe, a ’56 210, a ’58 Biscayne-then a “60 Bel Air and a
    ’62 Impala. They all had the inline 6 and powerglide-none had a radio, my parents finally broke down and had a radio installed in the ’62 after driving it about a year.
    I do recall seeing an occasional ’62 Bel Air hardtop-I think the roof was a carry over from the ’61 Impala, but after that the Bel Air was quickly relegated to second tier status(especially after the arrival of the Caprice) for those individuals who were too cheap to spring for the top of the line Chevys or could not afford anything else.

  • avatar
    detlump

    Is the Bel Air really that bad? I mean what kinds of Impala can you buy now? The LS, LT, and LTZ? What does that mean? At least the trim levels used actual names.

    Camaro is even worse: 1LS, 2LS, 1LT, 2LT, 1SS, 2SS, ZL1!!! WTF?

    No one dreams of a Camaro 2LS. You don’t drive down the road, see a Camaro coming, and say “Look at that Camaro 2LS! No, it’s a 2LT – 2LS – 2LT!”

    To me it makes more sense to use actual names then an alphabet soup.

    Besides, what was Chevy’s market share in that period? They’d kill for it these days.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      So if I get a Camaro 2LT with a Nav package will it get me lost in the woods? Sorry, a little Army humor.

    • 0 avatar
      Juniper

      The Bel Air is what the average guy actually bought. He drooled over the Impala but bought the Bel Air The Biscayne was for cheap skates and the Impala was for the guy who couldn’t or wouldn’t quite buy a Pontiac or an Olds.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      To be fair, the Camaro model designations were difficult to decipher even in the early years. I still don’t know – and don’t consider it worth studying – the various ways in which the RS and SS features could overlap (headlight doors on the 1969s, etc.). The early Firebird lineup was a model of clarity by comparison.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    In late 1971, my dad traded in my mom’s yellow 1969 Country Squire (I was 8 and I cried, for I loved the C.S.) for a brown 400 CID 1972 Kingswood (I.e. the Impala wagon) bought from Roger Penske! Then he scrapped the ’65 Polara he had inherited from his father and replaced it with a new black over green 350 CID 1972 Impala coupe. I was no GM fan, but dad was; I have to admit the Chevys were both good cars, the coupe was replaced with white Bel-Air wagon in ’74, which looked stripped down because iall the bright moldings came in white paint finish to match the color of the car (I thought dad had been conscripted into the ranks of Good Humor men!).

    As to the brochures, the were written to speak to the men of the times by the men of the times.

    A few years later, when Chevy started to doubt itself, it started to sell motherhood and apple pie, with “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet.”. And the slide was on…

  • avatar
    chas404

    “Chevy Runs Deep” just seems so offcolor and porno and cheesy.

  • avatar
    amac

    I really don’t see the point of this article. Comparing old ad copy to todays advertising standards? It’s like making fun of wide ties or bouffant hairdos. Too easy. It all may be funny now, but at the time it was relevant. The slogan “Chevy Runs Deep” is terrible, period. If you have to compare it to 40-year-old ad copy to make it sound half decent, then something is definitely wrong here.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Hell, I like looking back and thinking how “cool” we thought we were and now, older/wiser? we can chuckle at ourselves. I grew up in the 70′s, drivers ed car was a 1974 Pontiac Catalina. Talk about a boat with battering ram bumpers – buddy, it was it! Dad had a 1966 Buick 225, mom had 1969 Buick LeSabre. Either one was as goo as a Motel 6 for me and my hot little girl friend. I think back about those days and thank God for Trojans.

  • avatar
    nikita

    The whole concept of named trim levels was marketing genius. But, like grade inflation in school, its a moving target over time. Belair started out as the name for a special hardtop(no post)body, then the top trim for all bodystyles,then mid level when Impala came along, and finally the “el cheapo” just before it died. Ultimately, we ended up with Caprice cop cars and taxi cabs. Taxi fleets are where those Turbo-Thrift Belairs went in the early 1970′s.

    The same thing happened with trucks, but in later decades, Cheyenne went from being top dog, only to be pushed down the ladder by the Scottsdale and Silverado. Now, even a crank window, rubber floor truck is a Silverado.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    “Now don’t get the idea it’s an Impala that didn’t quite make it

    WTF

    Bel Air is Bel Air.

    Is that so.

    It’s its own car.

    How so, exactly? Like, it’s attained consciousness?”

    Perhaps it’s the way that this was phrased, or maybe how the cadence played out – but man, I literally LOL’d in my office. Nice.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I firmly believe that if Chevy brought back proper name heirarchy for their cars and drop all the L-this-and-L-that, they’d recapture some of thier past, as in: Impala SS-Impala-Bel-Air. Ditto for Ford (Galaxie, Galaxie 500, Fairlane, Falcon) and Chrysler (300 is OK, Newport, et al).

    The foreigners? Who cares? Not me, but I’m from an older generation…

    Yes, we own a Honda CR-V, so what?

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    I learned to drive in a ’72 Biscayne, blue 4 door, 350 V8. It was nicely equiped with creature comforts like….carpeting.

    I remember the one advanced feature it had (and the only thing I could show my friends) was the ‘mist’ wiper feature that would pulse the washer fluid nozzles and wipe at the same time.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    When the “downsized” full-size Chevys for 1977 appeared, the ad campaign was really not bad; this was the jingle, as I recall:

    Now that’s more like it
    That’s more like it
    That’s more like it, that’s much more like it
    The new…
    Chev…ro…let!!

    Of course this was an implicit admission that the 1971-76 cars (one of which, a ’72 with the experimental soft front end cap, I drove as a taxi for a few weeks in Lexington, MA, at age 19) were awful, as indeed they were. Even if such a sharp transition were possible today between an outgoing and an incoming model, I don’t think any modern ad copy would dare to suggest such a thing about the superseded car.


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