QOTD: What Was the Greatest Automotive Product Placement?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd what was the greatest automotive product placement

There’s a questionable spy photo of the next-generation Ram 1500 floating around. “Questionable,” because since the dawn of time, a Ram pickup, whether prefixed by “Dodge” or not, has retained solid, distinctive, and simple lines.

Unfortunately, the 2019 model seen in the photo appears with an odd mish-mash of Silverado and Tundra styling cues in place of today’s handsome front fenders and traditional crosshair grille. This got the TTAC chatroom talking. After all, the Ram nameplate is well-known for taking a styling direction and running with it for decades. Two styles over 40 years, essentially.

That got us talking about the most memorable Rams, the most quintessential and Rams, and, eventually, to the most famous Ram of them all.

While we all remember the solid, conservative model that kicked off the Ram nameplate in 1981, it’s the 1994 model that everyone remembers most. It’s not just because the bold redesign pushed Ram sales from a middling amount (compared to its Detroit Three rivals) into the stratosphere, nor because the model debuted the innovative Quad Cab bodystyle or offered an optional V10 megablock under the hood.

No, you also remember it from a summer blockbuster movie. The TTAC crew agrees that the Dodge Ram’s appearance in the 1996 film Twister represents the pinnacle of automotive product placement. The most effective, the most widely seen, the most memorable. That red, extended cab pickup was as much a star of that flick as Helen Hunt or Bill Paxton, may he rest in peace. Chrysler Corporation execs must have been salivating, eyes rolled back in their heads, at this feature-length advertisement.

“Oh man…..it went through that HOUSE! Try doing that in a Ford or Chevy. You can’t! I f***ing dare you!”

While this author is pretty adamant he’s in the right on this, other examples of automotive product placement abound. Off the top of my head, I could list some Bond films that really pushed the limits — saturating the screen with Chevrolets, AMCs (that was weird), Fords, and BMWs.

What’s your pick for the best starring role by a contemporary car or truck model?

[Images: Brian Cantoni/ Flickr, Twister/Warner Brothers]

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  • Freekcj Freekcj on Oct 18, 2017

    Not real product placement (or a real car for that matter) so probably why no one mentioned it. But as a impressionable youth I so wanted the Coyote X from Hardcastle & McCormick. I was always upset that the bad guys could get away from that car.

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Oct 18, 2017

    All the Mopar products in the 2nd season of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. were fun. One episode had a silver 66 Charger drive through the street scene several times. It felt like a "Lookit me! Lookit me!" type of a deal.

  • Lou_BC Panther black? Borrowed from Dodge panther pink? One could argue that any Camaro is a limited run.
  • SCE to AUX I much prefer the looks of the Tucson version, but either is a great value.How was the driveability, namely the electric/gas transition? I had H/K's first attempt in a 13 Optima Hybrid (now in my son's garage), and it was gruff and abrupt in that phase of driving.
  • SCE to AUX My guess of $60k from a few years ago may be low.My EPA estimate would be 263 miles, but that's unladen, temperate conditions, driven at the speed limit, and 0% left in the tank - all unrealistic.Subtract 15% for full payload, 20% for cold, 10% for speed, and 20% minimum battery level, and you're down to 129 usable miles at times. Even in nice conditions (springtime, town driving), I'd only expect 180 usable miles.This vehicle will have the same challenge as electric pickups do - when used as intended (traveling with family and stuff in this case), the utility is lost.When these hit US roads, expect to see videos of unhappy/surprised customers who thought this thing would go 260+ miles all the time. For starters, it should have a 150 kWh battery, minimum, and then you're talking real money.No, I wouldn't buy it, but it might be a fun rental for local driving.The common argument "once everyone who wants one gets one, sales will die" may not apply here. 789k New Beetles were sold in the US from 1998-2021. True, sales dropped 50% in 5 years, and another 60% in the next 5 years, but it ebbed along for two decades, helped by a refresh along the way. That's not a bad run for a niche car.
  • Theflyersfan I still have visions of Radio Shack and Circuit City and Silo - the huge walls filled with hundreds of aftermarket cassette players fit for any budget and style. And the eyes would always go to the Alpine ones with the green lighting. When I see the old Japanese cars like this, I'm always reminded of those aftermarket stereos because it was like a rite of passage slapping in your own cassette deck and maybe if your rich enough, four new speakers, and mega-bucks here, the equalizer and amp. And this Toyota still has less rust on it than an 07 Silverado, so there's one positive.
  • Parkave231 Agree with everyone else here -- big initial push, and then everyone who wants one will have one.I am curious whether, or how much, extra engineering they had to do with respect to the front crash structure. Yes, this isn't a cab-over situation like the original and many 60s/70s vans, but there's still not a lot of real estate between you and the front bumper. (Maybe it's just an illusion.) I suppose with just enough nose and empty space in front of the firewall they could have a pretty beefy impact system there.