By on September 13, 2013

1970_Toyota_Corona_Commercial-Picture courtesy of Toyota USASince my first car was a 1969 Toyota Corona sedan, I always look for these cars in junkyards. I toy with the idea of getting another first-gen Corona sedan someday, into which I will swap a 1UZ-FE engine out of a Lexus LS400, so of course I check the internetz for old Corona ads. Here’s a good one! (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2013

TransmissionManOutIt wasn’t that many decades ago that imported cars— any imported cars— were considered fairly exotic. I’ve dredged up memories of some very funny 1980 Aamco ads that deal with that subject, and the internet has obliged by providing those very ads for us! (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2013

I do a lot of traveling (to such exotic places as Kershaw, South Carolina and South Haven, Michigan) in my travels with the 24 Hours of LeMons, which means I have plenty of dead time in airports to contemplate puzzling car ads. The Economist is the best possible magazine to have on hand when you get hit by a six-hour weather delay at George Bush International, because of its incredible bang-for-buck density. It’s clear that marketing flacks take the Economist‘s word for it when they talk about readership demographics, because the split between self-proclaimed readership (powerful and influential globe-trotting executives) and actual readership (geeked-out history/politics junkies with unkempt beards and Dead Kennedys T-shirts) makes for some entertaining car advertisements. Here’s one for the ’13 Lincoln MKZ, which attempts to woo the 72-year-old owner of a 6-store dry-cleaning chain into feeling that the purchase of an MKZ will transform him into a focus-group-perfect 42-year-old entrepreneur. Let’s take a closer look at what Lincoln’s marketers picture as the idealized MKZ buyer. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2013

Daewoo never had much of a presence in the United States, though I do see the occasional Nubira in the junkyard. That’s too bad, because Korean-market Daewoo ads of the 1970s and 1980s have some of the manliest/cheeziest voiceovers in car-advertising history. Let’s take a look at some examples of the genre. (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2012

The Chrysler New Yorker went through many variations during the television era, from Warsaw Pact-crushing expression of capitalist triumph to Slant-Six-powered Dodge Diplomat sibling to snazzy-looking LH. Along the way, Chrysler’s marketers created a series of TV ads that now tell the Thirty Years of New Yorker story. Let’s check out a sampling of those ads. (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2012

A Grand Touring car is— or used to be— a big, fast, luxurious machine made for long drives to high-roller destinations. Once automobile manufacturers figured out that they could stamp out GT badges just as cheaply as Brougham emblems, we started seeing some truly silly GTs on the street. Say, the Hyundai Excel GT. Or the Plymouth Scamp GT, which wasn’t even a car. Even with those examples to choose from, my vote for the most absurd GT has to go to the Pontiac Vibe GT. Do you think a decadent, Quaaludes-and-Chartreuse-addled Italian countess would have driven a grubby little badge-engineered Toyota econobox to Monaco at an average clip of 115 MPH? (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2012

A couple of days ago, I accompanied a friend on a journey to pick up a couple of Rabbits at a mysterious not-open-to-the-public yard that sprawls across a couple of square miles of prickly-pear-covered prairie east of Colorado Springs. I’ll tell the story of that adventure soon, but I just couldn’t wait to share this car that I spotted during our visit: one of the finest examples of Malaise Era special-edition marketing madness in the history of the universe! (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2012

Right before AIDS and Reagan ruined the party, the early 1980s were a time of meaningless random sex, 20% inflation, sub-100-horsepower midsize sedans, Quaaludes, and— most of all— mountains of white powder (in imagination, not in the reality of the ’81 recession). This ad for the 1981 Ford Mustang captures the spirit of its time. (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2012

Back in the 1990s, Volkswagen and Trek Bicycles got together for a co-branding deal that shook the world (if you define “the world” as “a couple of zip codes in Marin County“): Golfs and Jettas with sporty-looking upholstery, roof racks, and matching Trek bikes! 15 years later, all but the most fanatical VW and/or bicycle zealots have forgotten the Trek Limited Edition VWs, which makes this an especially rare Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2012

One of the key lessons learned by American automobile marketers in the 1990s was: friendly cars flop, aggressive cars sell. Have they learned this lesson too well? (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2012

Yesterday, I shared a Toyota Corona ad from the February 1969 issue of Playboy. I like the Corona for personal reasons, but if the Time Machine took me back to ’69 and I didn’t have a lot to spend (or even if I did have a lot to spend), the Datsun 510 would be one of my top choices. Wouldn’t you know, there’s an ad for the 510 in the very same issue! (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2012

A generous 24 Hours of LeMons racer gave me a copy of the February 1969 issue of Playboy as a gift last weekend, and it’s even more of a time capsule than most publications of its era. The only cars advertised in the issue are the Ford Mustang (Mach 1 and Shelby), Volkswagen Beetle, Datsun 510 (labeled as the “/2″), and the Toyota Corona. Since my very first car was a ’69 Corona, I felt compelled to share this ad. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2012

In 1999, you could still buy a brand-new Peugeot 504 in Argentina. With such a classic French automobile available, Renault’s marketers had to come up with an extra-special advertising gimmick to move those Clios off the lot. How about El Diablo? (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2012

Having suffered behind the wheel of a few rented Corollas during my travels with the 24 Hours of LeMons Circus, I’m here to tell you that the current generation of Corolla— the version you get in rental fleets, at any rate— is one of the least fun motor vehicles you can buy. I am convinced that the suits at Toyota have ordered their top engineers to devise a Fun Prevention Control Module™ for the Corolla, a little box under the dash that does everything from preventing you from finding a good song on the radio to ensuring that you will never, ever be able to pull off even a half-assed e-brake turn in a muddy racetrack paddock. With the FPCM™ in full effect, you’ll drive your Corolla for hundreds of thousands of trouble- and fun-free miles, all the while fantasizing about setting the thing on fire and giving some crackhead $119 for a much more fun ’95 Mercury Mystique rolling on three space-saver spares. So, it came as a shock when I spotted this Corolla-hustling ad on a Saigon Toyota dealership during my recent trip to Vietnam. (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2012

Wait a minute— this Malaise Era heap, with its solid rear axle and AMC Hornet-esque lines, this car can’t be a 510! That’s what I thought when I spotted this car at a Northern California self-service yard last month, having forgotten that Nissan’s American marketers slapped 510 badges on the 710/Violet/Stanza/200B for the ’78 and ’79 model years. This is the first time I’ve seen one of these things in at least 20 years. (Read More…)

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