By on January 7, 2010

into the wide-track psychedelic sixties with F & K

A good window into someone’s soul is their screen saver/wallpaper. You’re looking at mine. I don’t reveal my innermost secrets everyday; except, of course, all over the pages of my Auto-biography. This ad crystallizes my psychedelic experience as a seven-year old arriving in NYC from Austria on a hot summer night in 1960. You can read it here. But let me just say there really was a 1960 Pontiac parked at the curb as we stumbled out of the International Terminal after our twenty-four hour trip.

welcome to 1960 america

The Grand Prix CC reminded me of all these wonderful Fitzpatrick and Kaufman print ads that graced our optimistic early sixties. They worked as a duo; Art Fitzpatrick rendered the cars, wider than reality by a long shot, and Van Kaufman filled in the backdrops and the happy people. Does this seem like a different world?

FK 1959 pontiac

Wide Track Pontiac’s just got that much wider, as the two master painters took on Pontiac’s new image with a vengeance!

KF 1961-Pontiacconv 800

FK 63pontiacgrandprix

They captured the times perfectly, as long as those times lasted. Their style was still working fairly well onto the middle of the decade, like these GP ads of 1963 and 1965.

FK 1965pontiac_p8-9

By the latter part of the decade, their version of surrealism wasn’t working quite as well anymore, despite the counter-culture’s embrace of a new version. Ads had to become more realistic, so you’ll note that the the exaggerated widths are out by about 1969.

FK 67 firebirdThis ’69 GTO ad even featured snow!

KK 69pontiacgtosnow69gp_2ad1

The FK style petered out about this time; photo-realism and new photography techniques ruled the seventies. But the fact that Pontiac’s golden decade corresponded with the legendary art work of Fitzpatrick and Kaufman is probably no mere coincidence.

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38 Comments on “Those Amazing Psychedelic Pontiac Ads by Fitzpatrick and Kaufman...”

  • avatar

    The 1960’s and 1970’s were good to me and I enjoy the flashbacks.

  • avatar
    also Tom

    The GTO in snow. Yeah, that’d work.

  • avatar

    The lines of that ’65 GP are so seductively beautiful, even after all these years.  And that one-year-only color of iris mist (or something similar as GM called it) was stunning.

    Somebody should tell that gent in the first ad that he doesn’t need highbeams in traffic!

  • avatar

    I remember these ads in National Geographic, among other publications. Wonderful stuff; they epitomize the sense of carefree upscale optimism that ground to an abrupt halt after Chicago, Memphis, and Tet.  I miss it.

  • avatar

    This is the Mad Men era of advertising. So not only do the ads fit the early 1960s, but those who saw these ads when they were new, instinctively were aware of the sleek Madison Avenue chic they displayed.

    Consider the market Pontiac is shooting for. Were buyers mostly middle class males? What were the attractive professions of that era? Advertising was as hot a 1960s field as being an astronaut, a jet pilot, a banker or a celebrity.

    Consider the age of the buyer. This was before the Baby Boomers. These ads were designed to be attractive to men who were married, hat-wearing, heteros with families with more than two children. The Baby Boomers weren’t buying full sized new cars in these years. These ads come before advertisers started worshipping the “youth market”.

    So these ads appear classy, mature and elegant.

    Today, if you want to find a suit-wearing, hat-wearing, slim-cut man with a large family, you aim for the under-45 male crowd. Today’s Baby Boomers are retirees with gray hair puttering around in Toyotas and Hondas, wearing white athletic shoes with baggy blue jeans and sporting gray goatees.

    • 0 avatar

      The last year of the boom is ‘64.

      Demographers updated that old figure about twelve years ago. They now end the Baby Boom generation in 1955, and include those born between 1955 and 1969 as the Jones Generation, the current President included.

    • 0 avatar

      Today’s Baby Boomers are retirees with gray hair puttering around in Toyotas and Hondas, wearing white athletic shoes with baggy blue jeans and sporting gray goatees.

      Most of us are still too young to retire.  My hair is still (mostly) black, I do drive a Toyota (not putter, I hope), my athletic shoes are black, my jeans aren’t (very) baggy, and I do have a gray goatee.

    • 0 avatar

      Do I really have to grow a goatee?

    • 0 avatar

      What hair?

  • avatar

    You aware that the writer  are both boomers? One doesn’t need a human brain to do that sort of stereotyping. btw, most of the baby boomers were too young to buy cars in that era. The last year of the boom is ’64.
    Love these ads, especially the first one. That really captures the spirit of Manhattan.

    Note to moderators: if you are going to delete mine, you should delete the previous post too.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Umm, that’s the Golden Gate Bridge, David.  And why are you worried about your comment being deleted? I think you misunderstood VanillaDude’s comment.

  • avatar

    If you’re gonna suggest using them as wallpapers, then link to wallpaper worthy versions of the image!  I’m pixelating here!

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Better for you to google: pick the year you like with “pontiac ad”, or google “fitzpatrick and kaufman ads”. Most of these are not very large scale, so they might not be suitable for big monitors. Good point, since I’m just about to upgrade from a small one to a 23 incher.

    • 0 avatar

      The Old Car Manual Project has some high resolution scans of old brochures available for download.
      Pontiac brochures for most years … with some beautiful Fitzpatrick/Kaufman images.
      Resolution varies, but some are as high as 3421 x 1500 for a single page.  You’ll need to crop/edit the image for your wallpaper.

  • avatar

    When I was a kid (and even into my teens) I used to love it when I came upon a stack of old magazines like Life or Look.  Lots of car ads.  The top ad of that copper 60 Pontiac always stuck with me because my Aunt Norma and Uncle John had a 60 Catalina that same color (though theirs was a radio-delete 4 door sedan).  The 60 Pontiac was always one of my favorite designs of that era. 
    I knew nothing about the artistic team that created these ads, so thank you, Paul, for the background. 

  • avatar

    Looks just like the GW Bridge. And the feel of the colors in the background is definitely Manhattan, not California. To me, at least, and I’ve been around both a lot.
    However… now that I look at the picture carefully, the colors on the license plate look like California of that era.

  • avatar

    But look what these guys had to work with.
    Real cars with real personalities. Not these homogenized look alike lumps that they would have to deal with these days.
    I remember these Pontiac ad’s with fondness. Representing an era that has unfortunately passed into history.

  • avatar

    And for an excellent Bruce McCall/National Lampoon take on the subject, check out the catalog for the ’58 Bulgemobiles:

  • avatar

    John Z. DeLorean complained in his book about a Pontiac ad that was never released. It showed a picture of a GTO in a driveway with a small boy holding a sponge and a bucket of water standing in front of it looking at the camera. The caption was simply, “A Boy and His Goat”. GM brass were highly incensed, exclaiming to the ad agency, “You can’t call one of our cars a goat!”. They didn’t have a clue that the word was common street slang for a GTO and it certainly wasn’t anything derogatory.

    Be that as it may, if you want to talk great car magazine ads, there really needs to be not one, but two articles on the great Mopar ads of the late sixties and early seventies (one for Plymouth and another for Dodge). My favorite for Plymouth was the wild, multi-color, two-page, psychedelic ad of a cartoon 1968 Roadrunner coming off the line on a dragstrip, spewing multi-color exhaust out of open headers.

    For Dodge, it would be the ad for the 1968 Super Bee with the simple caption, “Rumble Bee”.

    In so many ways, the sixties were really the golden era of American car culture.

    • 0 avatar

      I loved the “Mother Warned Me” ad for the 1969 Dodge Charger, which features a beautiful blond standing at the tail end of a Charger, suggestively holding her mini skirt hem. The copy is priceless, and perfectly reflects its era.

      Also loved the ads for Chryslers in the 1960s, which boasts that the featured low price in the ad isn’t for a small Chrysler, because “we don’t make any.”

    • 0 avatar

      Im too young to ever know a ’69 Charger new OR used.

      But this is for you.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you, AccAzda! What an ad!

  • avatar

    The awesome Rapid Transit System of Mopar’s

    • 0 avatar

      Rapid Transit System = Plymouth (1970 Roadrunner, GTX, Sport Fury GT, ‘Cuda, Duster 340)

      Scat Pack = Dodge (1968-1971, Charger R/T, Coronet R/T, Super Bee, Dart GTS, Swinger 340, Demon 340,  Challenger, Daytona )

  • avatar

    These are beautiful artwork …

    It is interesting how, despite Pontiac dropping the excessive width proportion of the hoods that they kept the excessive elongation …

    Don’t know if the one add is the Golden Gate or the GW, but the other GP ad reminds me of one of the bridges over the Seine!  (just did a little googling, and yep, I hope the artists were budgeted to go in-situ when they drew these beautiful ads…  to wit:

  • avatar

    A ’68 Chrysler New Yorker would’ve been a perfect fit in one of those ads. Wrong car family, though. I remember years ago my friend telling me “I always know it’s you coming up the street because your car’s headlights are so far apart”.

  • avatar

    john.fritz, that reminds me about the old joke…motorcycle rider hits a 68 New Yorker headon. Wakes up in the hospital, wife asks him, “What on earth were you thinking??!” He says, “I thought it was two motorcycles and tried to go between them.”

  • avatar

    I remember these ads from my childhood. If they didn’t escort you into the land of Carnutdom, nothing would’ve. Who, as a kid of 6 or 7, didn’t aspire to drive a car cooler and more sophisticated than his Dad’s? These ads were the gateway drug into the addiction of cars for me. Thanks for the memories…absolutely awesome.

    For the record – I’m 49, no kids, baggy jeans or gray goatee. I work in Marketing and drive a Genesis 3.8 and a Harley Road King.

    God…I miss the 60’s and 70’s. For gearheads it was a great time to be alive.

    • 0 avatar

      Amen, brother.

      For me, when the word “car” is mentioned, it is these images that will always spring to mind.  These pictures = Pontiac, and Pontiac = car.

      These cars, the ads for them, and my Hot Wheels made ’64 – ’72 auto nirvana. 

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Bravo  Paul, I am gonna google those artists by and by.  I was nine in 1960.  I could  probably identify every American car make and model year from 1941  to 1960.   A good buddy  of  mine bought a 64-ish Bonneville  when he was last east.  It took him a week to sort out  the linkage on the tri-powers. It was bergundy.  Low and wide was the style in the early 60s.  It was a cleaner, smoother look than the current lozenge shape.

  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    Remember this radio ad  jingle from 1965?
    Hurry on down to wide track town,
    wide track town is Pontiac town  …
    In my mind, I can clearly hear the tune of this jingle 45 years later.
    It ranks right up there with Beneficial’s “Doot, doot, you’re good for more!”
    Ah, the 1960s. What an era it was for wasting time watching television and going to the movies, rather than what we pursue today, enriching our lives on the Internet discussing old cars and the people who built them.

  • avatar
    1600 MKII

    I’ll never forget the day a friend of mine and I discovered that “wide-track” meant a simple reversal of the inner wheel orientation to “insies” rather than “outsie” And I hadn’t gotten over the Turbo Bonneville yet….

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    This is what made me realize that euthanizing Pontiac is a good thing.  This division of GM has been a shell of itself for nigh on 3 decades……and rather than letting the proud Pontiac name continue to be sullied by the weak-ass vehicles which Gummint Motors chose to throw out there, letting Pontiac die a dignified death is the right thing.

    Thanks to sites like TTAC and others, the best of the proud Pontiac tradition will continue to live (in limited numbers) on the road, and in our memories and that part of our hearts which all American males reserve for our favorite cars….

    These ads were always prominent in the scorebooks and programs at Tiger Stadium in the days of my youth. I remember lusting after the late-60’s Pontiacs between innings while watching Al Kaline, Willie Horton and Mickey Lolich rock the ballpark…..
    RIP Pontiac.

  • avatar

    VW did the same thing with their advertising either right before or after WWII. Lots of Loooong VW vans and swoopy Beetles. Somebody ought to build an aircooled van or Beetle that actually resembled what the ads showed. LOL!

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