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American Automobile Advertising, 1930-1980: An Illustrated by Heon Stevenson

By Heon Stevenson

This publication offers a entire background of yank vehicle ads over a half-century span, starting with the entrenchment of the "Big Three" automakers through the melancholy and concluding with the gasoline crises of the Seventies and early Nineteen Eighties. The good illustrated textual content follows a thematic instead of a strictly chronological constitution, tracing the relevant components in American vehicle ads. Advances more often than not ads layouts and photos are mentioned partially One, including the ways that vehicle styling, mechanical advancements, and comfort beneficial properties have been portrayed and highlighted in car ads through the years. half explores the ads topics that have been involved much less with the attributes of the automobiles themselves than with shaping the best way shoppers may understand and determine with them. half 3 addresses advertisements orientated towards the sensible elements of motor vehicle possession, concluding with an account of the development of imported vehicles into the United States after international warfare II. Illustrations comprise greater than 250 motor vehicle ads, the vast majority of that have now not been visible in print because their unique ebook.

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Extra info for American Automobile Advertising, 1930-1980: An Illustrated History

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The first of these cars was a Chrysler Airflow, as promoted to British motorists in advertising with an American flavor in 1935; the second was a 1939 Lincoln-Zephyr. The Airflow was a sales disaster with only around 29,500 Chrysler and 25,700 De Soto Airflows sold over four seasons, but the Zephyr, though inherently a more specialized car, was a successful product whose styling was widely copied. Both were sold on the strength of streamlined design; the difference lay in the marketing approaches used.

In 1962, Cadillac’s layouts remained similar, as did the style of the car itself, but embroidery gave way to vignettes of affluent life, and to more modest jewelry. Wrought-iron gates and stone columns echoed the aristocratic visual references which had been popular among upmarket advertisers in the 1920s. In 1963, realism suddenly took over, as dream settings in turn gave way to modest depictions of the new models that actually looked like conventional photographs. Evening dresses were replaced by less formal clothes, and the copy began to describe technical features which had been largely unmentioned since the early 1950s; pre-eminence had to be fought for and demonstrated, and could no longer simply be asserted by portentous language and improbable surroundings.

Consumers liked a car to be in some way “scientific” and demonstrably modern, but appeared to object when scientific principles were applied to its design. Car buyers also liked the idea of a streamlined automobile, provided that it remained visibly related to earlier, familiar forms which themselves owed little to aerodynamics; many had been more efficient traveling backwards than forwards. General Motors’ solution to the complexities of consumer taste in the 1930s was elegantly simple. The “one-piece solid steel ‘Turret Top’ Body by Fisher,” new for 1935 and heavily advertised throughout the rest of the decade, looked modern, yet largely retained familiar proportions.

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