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Kodachrome Memories #3: Sears Parking Lot, 1940s

Some of the best old Kodachrome slides you can come across are of parking lots. They give you the chance to see a nice cross-section of cars, sure, but they also offer a hint as to the economic condition of the area. A bunch of rusted old junkers paints a very different picture than a lot full of shiny, newer models.

Vintage Kodachrome slide: Sears Parking Lot, 1940s

This is a great selection of pre and post-war models, including at least two Woodie station wagons. And as an even bigger bonus, you can see a Sears storefront, from a time when they reigned as one of the great retail operations in America.

Good times, my friends, good times.

If anyone can identify any of the cars in this picture, please leave a comment.

Lexus "December to Remember" message - Suck It, Poor People!

Congrats to Lexus on the Most Obnoxious Holiday Commercials of All-Time

Lexus "December to Remember" message - Suck It, Poor People!

Lexus, a perennial contender for the most annoying holiday commercials of the year, has roared back to the top of my Most Hated Christmas Commercial list in 2011 for all-time after being temporarily dethroned in 2010 by the Hyundai Hipsters. Incredibly, they’ve found a way to amp up the obnoxiousness even more this time by playing cutesy with their stupid “December to Remember” jingle. If you haven’t seen this spot from 2011, get a barf bag handy:

Look, I don’t normally encourage class jealousy or class warfare, but this is just fucking ridiculous. Who exactly does this campaign appeal to, if not privileged, upper-class white people without an ounce of shame? At least this year’s Acura holiday ads try to be funny.

If it makes you feel any better, feel free to sing along with this jingle with some lyrics I’ve come up with:

“I’m a giant douchebag / look at my car / don’t you wish you were just like me!”

(Turns out this is actually a real song called “Family & Friends” by Steve Kujala. Good for him for cashing in, I guess.)

2013 Update: While Lexus has toned down the smarm factor just a bit this year, there’s still a lot to loathe. Now these stupid fucking red bows are being elevated to holiday icon status. Ugh.

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1968 AMX Pink with Angela Dorian-feat

Angela Dorian’s Playboy Playmate Pink 1968 AMX

According to at least one source, in 1964 Playboy magazine started giving away so-called Playmate Pink automobiles as prizes to the women selected as Playmate of the Year. For 1968, Angela Dorian — born Victoria Vetri — was given the honor and a brand-new 1968 pink AMC AMX, the first model year for the sports car.

Angela Dorian's Playboy Playmate Pink 1968 AMX

Hot pink indeed.

This AMX was powered by the base 290 V8 with automatic transmission, air conditioning, tilt wheel, AM/8-track radio and optional rear bumper guards. In addition to the paint job, this car differed from other AMXs in that its dashboard number plate contained Dorian’s measurements, making her car AMX 36-24-35.

According to my exhaustive internet sleuthing, Dorian still owns the car, which is now black. At least that’s as of 2010, when she was arrested for attempted murder of her husband. She was given a nine-year prison sentence in 2011.

(Sorry fellas, no nude pictures here — this is a family site!)

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne promo photo

Concept Car Capsule: 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne

Three years before Chevrolet introduced the Biscayne model to its new car lineup, it debuted as a rather interesting concept car design at the 1955 General Motors Motorama car show. It’s fascinating for a few reasons. First, it stood in clear contrast to the growing trend of making American cars bigger and flashier. Secondly, it was a curious mix of styles, incorporating aspects of the then-current Corvette with a glimpse of the Corvair to come.

Of course, as with the Edsel, your eyes are immediately drawn to the front of the Biscayne. The odd headlamp placement and Jaws-like grill styling were bold, to say the least. The ’55 certainly bore precious little resemblance to the production model that rolled off the assembly line in 1958, as you will see in the final image in this gallery.

Here is a host of images of the 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne, most of which feature the shade of green that you would never see on an automobile now. First up are scans of the original Motorama brochure, followed by promo images and magazine covers. Most images can be clicked for a larger version.

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne manual

manual scan

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne manual

manual scan

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne manual

manual scan

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne manual

manual scan

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne promo photo

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne promo photo

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne promo photo

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne promo photo

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne promo photo

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne Topps World on Wheels card

1955 Topps World on Wheels card

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne magazine cover

Das Auto Motor Und Sport

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne magazine cover

Motor Trend, December 1957

1974 AMC Matador wire photo

Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 31: Classic American Cars (1930s – 1970s) Part 1

One of my favorite past-times is combing the vast archive of press wire photos on eBay. I’ve found all sorts of neat things there, but one of my current obsessions is old automobile press photography. So here is the first of what I hope will be many galleries featuring ten classic American cars, mainly from the mid-century period. Apologies in advance if I get some of the years or models wrong — I can only go off what the original auction listed. Also, those marks you see on some of the photos are original editorial markings, so you know these are 100% real!

For much more detailed looks at classic American cars, check out my ad galleries for the 1970 Dodge, 1975 Chevrolet, and 1982 AMC lineups.

(Click on any picture for the full size.)

1937 Dodge wire photo

1937 Dodge

If anyone can tell me what the model is for this ’37 Dodge I’d be most appreciative.

1940 Chrysler Royal 6-passenger sedan wire photo

1940 Chrysler Royal 6-passenger sedan

1941 Studebaker Skyway President sedan wire photo

1941 Studebaker Skyway President sedan

You could never get away with sitting on the hood of a car now, unless you feel like removing a big dent.

1954 Cadillac Park Avenue sedan wire photo

1954 Cadillac Park Avenue sedan

1960 Dodge Polara wire photo

1960 Dodge Polara

Designs inspired by the Jet Age lived on into the early 1960s.

1962 AMC Rambler American wire photo

1962 AMC Rambler American

1970 AMC Gremlin wire photo

1970 AMC Gremlin

1971 Buick Opel 1900 wire photo

1971 Buick Opel 1900

German-made Opel automobiles appeared under their own name in the U.S. from 1958 to 1975, when they were sold through Buick dealers as captive imports.

1974 AMC Matador wire photo

1974 AMC Matador

1976 Chevrolet Suburban wire photo

1976 Chevrolet Suburban

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Honda Presidents Day car commercial - Abraham Lincoln and George Washington

Honda’s Presidents Day Commercial Is My New Jam

Honda Presidents Day car commercial - Abraham Lincoln and George Washington

Up until recently, every Presidents Day sale commercial I had seen was either stupid, disrespectful or both. And then I caught this Executive Office Slow Jam from Honda.

Oh yes, that is glorious. And inspired.

“Who’s your founding father?”

“Talkin’ ’bout the red, white, and bluetooth.”

I need to watch this again. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have never seemed so damn soulful.

Plymouth Fury 1968 billboard ad

Ads from the Open Road, Volume 1

I don’t really pay much attention to billboard advertisements while I’m driving, unless it’s something fairly snappy or unique. And as much as I’d like to romanticize old billboard ads, I think the medium as a whole has been fairly bereft of great ideas. And if you think about it, it makes sense.

You’re only going to see a billboard ad clearly for what, four or five seconds? So it’s all about economy of ideas and design. Anything too complicated and you either lose a driver’s interest or cause a 20-car pileup. Neither is good for business.

I’m not holding this group of classic billboard ads up as the best ever, but I think you’ll enjoy them nonetheless. These are all courtesy the Duke University Libraries Digital Collections advertising series.

RCA (Whitey's TV) 1969 billboard advertisement

I can’t decide which part of this ’69 RCA billboard I love the most.

Anti-Ayatollah Khomeini billboard (1980)

Sammy Hagar clearly does not approve of this gem from 1980, aimed at Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Plymouth Fury 1968 billboard ad

I like the shape of this 1968 Plymouth Fury ad. It’s a nice change from plain old rectangular. And I love that they used the Plymouth font for the tagline too.

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Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)

Time Capsule: Vintage Detroit Car Maker World War II Production Photos

As part of a larger story in its August 17, 1942 issue on strife within between Detroit’s car makers and their labor union member workers, Life magazine captured some excellent photographs of Motor City manufacturers in the midst of wartime production. The pictures, taken by staff photographer William Vandivert, captured a rare moment in modern American history — when the nation’s vast commercial manufacturing muscle was flexed to produce machinery (planes and bombers) for World War II.

Seen here are images from Ford, Chrysler, and Chevrolet plants in Detroit, Michigan. Click on any photo for a larger version.

Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)

The exterior of the Chevrolet Gear and Axle plant, the union car on the street.

Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)

Ford aviation plant workers constructing a B-24 heavy bomber.

Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)

The assembly line at the Chrysler tank arsenal changing over from M3 to M4 while the line continues moving.

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Retrotisements -- 1975 Chevrolet New Car and Truck Lineup

Retrotisements — 1975 Chevrolet New Car and Truck Lineup

Retrotisements -- 1975 Chevrolet New Car and Truck Lineup

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that 1975 was a great year because that’s when I was born but it’s totally the case. And that’s pretty much all the inspiration behind the choice for this car capsule. It features Chevrolet, perhaps the most All-American automotive brand around (sorry Ford fans).

Chevy’s slogan for the 1975 model year was “Chevrolet Makes Sense for America,” which was a recession-themed tagline carried over from the previous year, according to this very in-depth look at Chevy marketing. Their TV ads sported a catchy little jingle titled “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet.”

And the ’75 Chevy lineup was rather a large one, featuring nearly a dozen passenger cars. And here they are, ads and brochure pages for every Chevy model from the subcompact Vega to the mid-size Monte Carlo, and finally to the legendary Camaro and Corvette. You can click on the 2-page ads to see a larger version.

(To see other car lineup advertisement galleries, click here. Got a request for other years and makes? Let me know in the Comments section.)

1975 Chevrolet Cars (general)

1975 Chevrolet Caprice 4 Door Hardtop

1975 Chevrolet Full-Size Wagons ad

1975 Chevrolet Wagons ad

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