By on March 4, 2019

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

There are occasions when human beings need a bit of time to get used to something, such as when your teenager suddenly dyes their hair purple or you are suddenly forced to buy new work boots because your old ones have completely collapsed. I have experienced 50 percent of these examples in the past week and will leave it to your speculation as to which one it is.

Something else your author needs time to assimilate? New car names slapped on machines introduced to replace an outgoing model. It’s the automotive equivalent of daytime soaps suddenly hiring a new actor to play the same character. It’s jarring.

Here’s today’s question: should OEMs introduce new names with their new cars? Or should they hang on to the tried-and-true? As you’d expect, I have a couple of opinions.

(Read More…)

By on March 15, 2018

Lexus sales slipped in the United States over the last two years. While overall deliveries remain relatively strong, the Japanese luxury brand saw its annual volume surpassed by Mercedes-Benz in 2013. BMW followed suit in 2017 and the gap only looks to be widening this year. So, what does a high-end nameplate do to lure back customers?

The answer is an obvious one: it starts building boats. It might shock you to learn this, but boats have actually been around since prehistoric times and physical examples have been discovered that are at least 10,000 years old. Meanwhile, most cars aren’t even 100 years old. Basic math proves boats to be the more sustainable product and a sounder investment. Cars had a good run, but autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services are about to convert driving into a passive and homogeneous experience in a totally hypothetical and undetermined amount of time. Boats will be where it’s at very soon and every automaker will eventually become a sloop manufacturer.

Alright, I’ll stop being a prick (for now). What Lexus is really attempting to do is gussy up its image, endearing itself to the growing legions of super-rich people by providing contemporary yachts — something Mercedes-Benz has done in the past. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2017

wilt-chamberlain-volkswagen-beetle

Ages ago, we asked about your favorite car-related marketing campaign. Your answers were varied as they were well-thought out – Nissan’s toy 300ZX, Iacocca daring us to find a better car, and VW’s Star Wars ad.

Absent from all of the above? Celebrity endorsements… unless you count Ken & Barbie in the Z ad. This time around, we’re asking you what’s the most memorable car ad (for better or worse) featuring someone straight out of central casting?

(Read More…)

By on December 1, 2016

Mazda Dog

Mazda, which has seen its previously strong sales slip in Israel, feels the brand has developed a bum rap. Its once-exciting cars have become unworthy of praise in the Jewish republic — claims the company finds flagrantly objectionable.

So, rather than take the perceived abuse lying down, the automaker developed the “Prepare to be Amazed” campaign in response. Its essence isn’t that Mazda begs to differ with naysayers, but that the general public is simply wrong in its assumptions.

It’s the advertising equivalent of telling off the school bully while putting on a pair of sunglasses and moonwalking home. (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2016

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Pickup trucks are about as stereotypically American as firearms, baseball, Coca-Cola, and landing on the moon. However, General Motors and Ford don’t want us hoarding all that goodness and plan on exporting their piece of the American pie to the East. The Big Two want to place large American trucks in the hands of upscale Chinese buyers and establish the eminence of a vehicle China currently sees as little more than a tool for farming or construction.

Coincidentally, that is exactly how our love affair with the truck began.  (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

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Mazda is like that artisan pizza place or a craft brewery your coolest friends all like. They make a familiar product, but there is definitely something different about it. While you can’t always place your finger on it, that unexplainable “x” factor affords them the hint of pretentiousness that comes along with doing things differently.

And like any hip outlet selling quirky artisanal goods, they are likely going to start charging you more for it.

(Read More…)

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…)

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