The Thanksgiving leftovers are still on the table when the Christmas tree goes up at the Kreutzer house. Wherever we go in the world I am determined that some traditions will survive and Christmas is one of the constants that my children can count upon no matter how hard it might be for Santa to find us some years. We have a fair amount of decorations, mostly indoor stuff, and when the season has ended I usually spend New Year’s Day pulling everything down and carefully wrapping each piece in its own individual piece of newspaper. The newspaper wrapping is just as important to me as the decorations themselves because I know that in the years to come, those crumpled bits of newsprint will become little time capsules that will show where we were and what we thought was important. One thing I am always sure to include are the car ads.
I love looking at old car ads. Armed with 20/20 hindsight, I get to see the best cars of the era in their prime and I get to marvel at the obscenely low costs of some great old iron while I conveniently forget the fact that I was making a minimum wage of just $3.35 an hour at the time. Since I started writing for TTAC a few months ago, I’ve spent more time than ever thinking about old cars and have rediscovered the joy of looking through the old ads and while I enjoy the full color glory shots from the slick pages of old buff books as much as the next guy, I think the real flavor of those times is best captured in newspaper ads. Getting those ads outside of my Christmas boxes, however, has proven to be a challenge.
In 2008, Google announced an ambitious newspaper scanning project. Although they abandoned the effort in 2011, they did manage to scan in quite a number of papers before terminating the project and those papers are still available on-line if you can find them. I like to think I am a fairly web savvy guy, I mean, I was around when internet 1.0 was born and, even if I am not totally fluent in – or for that matter really even understand the point of – Web 2.0, I can click around with the best of them. Even so, I had a hard time tracking down Google’s on-line archive. I’m not sure why that is exactly but I suspect that it is because many papers are looking to monetize their back issues and have hidden them behind a pay wall.
Fortunately for us all, I was researching another article I stumbled across the portal to Google’s newspapers and, even better, actual scans of a large, big-city paper, “The Miami News,” that just happened to have been printed within living memory. The following link is from the Saturday, October 10, 1987 edition of the Miami News “Weekender.” The car ads start on Page 18. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go through the paper and find the best deal you can. New and used cars in the Dealer ads or even something listed as a private sale in the Classifieds are fair game. Think that brand new 88 Mustang LX for just $8995 is a steal? How about the ’87 Jeep Grand Wagoneer at $16,666 – a whopping $7240 under list price? Let the games begin!