Thanks to family friends who knew of my love of cars, on two separate occasions I got a large cache of old car brochures from the 1970s and 1980s, which made my addiction to vintage car literature much more acute. Thus began a wild and amazing spending spree on eBay starting in about 1999. By then, I was naturally a bit more interested in the lovely ladies featured in many of these 1970s brochures.
You see, back then, car companies weren’t in love with stark backgrounds, bland colors and bland design. Whether a BMW, Ford or Nissan, select any current sales brochure (if you can actually find one) and you are likely to see a gray car in a gray background with gray buildings and gray sky. Lame.
Who is running today’s advertising agencies? Why does everything look the same? And I don’t mean the cars themselves, I mean the brochure pictures and art. A few years back I was at Lujack Auto Plaza, the local Audi-Mercedes-Porsche dealer. I picked up a brochure for the Audi A5 coupe, a car I’ve always admired. After flipping through it and only seeing black or silver cars featured, I put it back in the rack. The entire catalog might as well have been printed in black and white, so bland were the colors. Only the orange turn signals and red taillights confirmed it indeed was a color brochure.
So it is always a pleasure to dive into my old car brochures and admire the wide color choices and upholstery styles of what once was. The models often seen in said brochures only add to the appeal.
Yes, you could get interior colors! And leather was leather then, not the poor rubberized facsimile seen on many modern automobiles. And color. Lovely, glorious color: maroon, blue, green, white, dove gray, saddle tan and red.
Even aqua velour!! Are today’s cars better than ’70s luxury yachts? By and large, yes. Safer, longer-lived in most cases, more efficient in most every case. But man, those Broughamtastic land cruisers of the Me Decade sure were snazzy, were they not? And whether or not you love these velour clad cruisers, one thing they weren’t was meek. Or bland.
And ladies were classier too–not a tattoo or nose ring in sight. And remember when people dressed up? In a world where folks wear jeans and T-shirts to weddings, I feel like a man without a country with my golf shirts, slacks and loafers. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade. I’m rambling…
Anyway, at least I can always go back to the ’70s with my trove of brochures. All you can do, when the flux capacitor hasn’t yet been invented.
And hey, maybe it’s for the best. As much as I love ’70s cars and ’70s TV shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show, I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the bellbottoms, Nehru jackets and other “with-it” ’70s pop items!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I bought the first season of The Bob Newhart Show at the mall last week, and need to watch it. So until next time, keep calm and Brougham on. And always tip your bartender!
The comely lass in the fourth pic? Sitting through the sunroof like that?
If she’s young enough to do that, than she’s WAY too young to be owning, or even driving, a Cadillac.
But her gentleman friend probably isn’t.
I’d missed the silver-haired patrician type there, tending the horses. Probably supposed to be her father. What better way to have a daddy-daughter Sunday outing, than posing to sell Cadillacs with Campbell-Ewald Advertising?
What was wrong with the baby boomers, This photo collection shows how well a successful man will be treated by the gentler sex if they just make the correct stop on Brougham Street. Yet then they go spend they their money with the lying white coated, clip boarded geeks talking up swing axles.
Thank God we know longer have such sexist advertising that reinforced the Patriarchy that keeps women down. What sort of message does it send to society where young attractive women pose alluringly in luxury cars they could almost certainly never afford unless they rely on a rich father, husband or boyfriend to support them? How are fat or ugly or trans women supposed to get a luxury car?
Furthermore, since we only have 12 years before the planet bursts into flames from global warming, what sort of message does it send to have large luxury cars shown with only one thin woman luxuriating on cushy seats with scads of legroom? Who is going to want to ride a crowded, cramped hybrid bus to save the planet after seeing such suggestive images?
Yes it is far better today, where brochures no longer show images that send messages of wasteful consumption or oppressive inequality and unfairness.
I think this pretty much sums it all up. The subtext of the bland advertising of today is that it’s irresponsible to enjoy nice things. That we are too sophisticated to enjoy such crass and tacky luxury of yesteryear. Woke professionals should feel guilty for their success. If you are proud of your individual success, subdue it. Don’t be too obvious about it.
What a better time it was back then. Men were men. Women were women. People didn’t have to feel like they were walking on eggshells all the time. Those brochures, the cars and women featured in them exude class and elegance. The woman in the ’78 Park Avenue looks exactly like my Mom did in 1978. And ironically the next year she bought a ’79 Buick Riviera! So these pictures and brochures were not only designed for the males to have eye candy, they also gave women who drove these types of cars an idea of what it would be like if they were to own one as well. Back then, one could order their car in their choice of many colors and with options to suit their taste. Take it a step further – back then, the Mom & Pop stores were everywhere. We had choices and towns and cities were unique. Today’s world is so full of boredom it disgusts me. Every town has an Applebees, CVS, Walgreens, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Wal-Mart, etc.etc. – well you get my point. Gone are the Mom & Pop establishments. No distinctiveness anymore. No personalization. Same with cars. Bland. Boring. Are they great vehicles? Yes. But as boring as hell. LONG LIVE THE BROUGHAM AND THE BEAUTIFULLY PHOTOGRAPHED BROCHURES!! Great write-up as usual, Tom!!
The same folks who owned “Mom & Pop” stores now own McDonalds and Wendy’s franchises. Hell, even Durst Lumber, a family owned hardware store & lumber yard where I’ve shopped for over 50 years is an Ace Hardware franchise.
Interesting that on the Versailles and the Seville the pictures more imply that the ladies will be the drivers not just a welcome accoutrement for the successful man. I wonder if the demographics of the actual first owners significantly skewed more female or it was just a hope of the marketers. This would mean an expanding market and not just a less profitable shift between existing customers.
Also on the Versailles. Did the console shown come with a floor shift, I don’t remember them having that.
A goolag image search reveals a column shifter on the Lincoln.
Yes and no. If you ordered the tilt wheel no otherwise you could have the floor shift
It seems the ideal woman in Brougham Land was lean while the ideal car was plush.
I’m sure they were going for “powerful CEO” in the 1979 Lincoln Versailles ad, but all I’m seeing is “professional hitman”. Maybe “dominatrix”.
The equestrian clothing and accessories is clear shorthand for old money leisure class.
When was this, 200 years ago? In a galaxy far, far away? It seems so, yet it was really yesterday. I also have many of the brochures shown, as well as many others, all showing successful, beautiful women and men…should they have shown unattractive, unsuccessful people? Good article!