Retrotisements — 1979 Station Wagons

For my latest gallery of vintage car ads I’m going to focus on one particular segment, in this case it’s station wagons from the 1979 model year. Having never owned one I can’t speak to the experience of what it’s like, but I always crack a smile whenever I see a classic family truckster still on the road.

So in the spirit of old school station wagons, let’s take a look from what was hot off the assembly line 40 years ago from a sampling of American and foreign automakers.


The seventh-generation Town & Country was in its second year as the mid-sized LeBaron wagon. It had formerly been the company’s full-size station wagon.

1979 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country wagon ad


The 1979 Safaris were available in several trim packages. This ad highlights the mid-size Grand LeMans Safari and the full-size Bonneville Safari.

1979 Pontiac Safari ad


This Cutlass Cruiser, Oldsmobile’s mid-size wagon, features a diesel engine. 1979 was the company’s second model year with a diesel engine for its wagons.

1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser ad

And here is the full-size Custom Cruiser.

1979 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser ad


All four of Ford’s wagon models for 1979 are on this beauty of an ad, including the Club Wagon van. We’ve got the Pinto, LTD, and Fairmont wagons all out for a nice day at the lake.

1979 Ford Wagon ad


1979 was the second model year for the Malibu wagon, then in its fourth generation. It was Chevy’s mid-size wagon entry.

1979 Chevrolet Malibu ad

Here’s Chevy’s full-size wagon, the Caprice Classic.

1979 Caprice Classic wagon ad


Dodge offered three wagon models in 1979 — the Colt, Aspen, and Diplomat. Here is the largest of the trio, the Diplomat.

1979 Dodge Diplomat ad


We can’t forget our imports now can we? Here is the 1979 Volkswagen Dasher, known back home as the Passat.

1979 Volkswagen Dasher


The subcompact Nissan Sunny (sold in North America as the Datsun 210) was in the second year of its fourth generation in 1979. In 1982 it was replaced by the Sentra.

1979 Datsun 210 ad


The Subaru Leone went by many names in America in the late ’70s, including the Subaru GL or L Series. Whatever you call it, it clearly stands out from the station wagon crowd of 1979.

1979 Subaru station wagon ad

Retrotisements — A Year in the Life (1967)

In past ad galleries I’ve typically stuck with a particular theme or product, such as holiday-themed ads or new car lineups. I’m going to try something new and product an ad gallery from a single year, covering a wide range or products and services. Basically, a sort of visual shorthand to see what someone would’ve seen in print or TV ads in a particular year. Think of this as a virtual department store of sorts.

For the first edition I thought I’d travel back exactly 50 years to 1967. Let’s browse!


1967 Chrysler ad

1967 Chrysler

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle ad

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle

Consumer Electronics

1967 Kodak Instamatic ad

Kodak Instamatic

1967 Westclox ad


1967 Automatic Royal ad

Automatic Royal


The Dirty Dozen ad

The Dirty Dozen

1967 Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze ad

“Purple Haze” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience


1967 Arrow ad


1967 Career Club Shirts ad

Career Club

Food and Beverage

1967 Nabisco Snackmate ad

Nabisco Snack Mate

1967 Michelob ad


1967 7Up ad


1967 Arby's ad


Health and Beauty

1967 Maybelline ad


1967 Alka-Seltzer ad


1967 Lustre Creme ad

Lustre Creme

Household Goods

1967 One-Step Floor Care ad

One-Step Floor Care

1967 Dash ad


1967 Admiral Duplex ad

Admiral Duplex


1967 Best Western ad

Best Western

Hawaii ad 1967

Hawaii via Pan Am and American Airlines

1967 Pan Am ad

Pan Am


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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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 — 1958 Plymouth New Car Lineup

Print advertisements, brochures, and TV commercials help give us a glimpse into the automotive past. Today’s ad collection shines a spotlight on the 1958 Plymouth domestic American car lineup, which featured three main models — the Plaza, Savoy, Fury, and Belvedere — as well as the Suburban station wagon.

The full-size Belvedere, introduced in 1954, was in its third generation for ’58, and was available as a 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, 2-door Club Sedan, and convertible. It was demoted from the top of the Plymouth line in 1956 to make room for the Fury.

The Savoy, also in its fifth year of production, was Plymouth’s mid-line priced vehicle. Three trims were available in 1958 — 2-door and 4-door hardtop, and a 4-door sedan. And then there’s the Plaza, which was the entry-level model for 1958 (its last year of production). Buyers had a 2-door Club sedan or 2-door Business Coupe to choose from, as well as a “Silver Special” edition with a custom silver paint job and silver spear.

Last but not least, there’s the 1958 Plymouth Fury. Immortalized in Stephen King’s Christine, the Fury was limited to around 5,000 units in 1958. Nevertheless, it was clearly the marquee model in the ’58 Plymouth lineup. Around two dozen Furys — along with some converted Belvederes and Savoys — were reportedly destroyed to make Christine. King fans should note that the 1958 Fury was not produced in red, as Buckskin Beige was the only color available that year.

In terms of advertising, Plymouth’s print ads tended to focus on the make in general as opposed to specific models. But when one is clearly shown I’ll point it out.

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

1958 Plymouth — General

Plymouth ad, 02-17-1958
Plymouth ad, 12-16-1957

1958 Plymouth "Money-Ahead" Contest Form

1958 Plymouth "Money-Ahead" Contest Form

This is for the same contest mentioned in the TV spots below. It’s the “Money-Forward” contest, where you can win either a 4-door hardtop Belvedere or a Motorola transistor radio. Neat!

1958 Plymouth contest ad with Bob Hope

Here are some in-show advertisements for Plymouth, who sponsored the short-lived ABC sitcom Date with the Angels (starring Betty White and Bill Williams). I wonder who won the $500 a month for life, and if they’re still around to collect. I really dig the road test with the tray full of food.

Plymouth ad, 5-19-58 feat. the Belvedere

Featured in this ad: the 2-door hardtop Belvedere

Simoniz ad, 03-03-1958

This Simoniz ad features a beautiful red Belvedere.

The quality on this TV spot isn’t the greatest, but it’s worth it for the jingle at the end.

1958 Plymouth station wagon brochure cover

Suburban Station Wagon brochure cover

1958 Plymouth station wagon newspaper ad

1958 Plymouth Suburban station wagon ad

1958 Plymouth Cabana station wagon concept car

1958 Plymouth Cabana station wagon concept car

What strangeness is this? If you haven’t ever seen this on the road, there’s a good reason. This is the 1958 Plymouth Cabana, a concept car in the form of a station wagon. Pretty swell, if you ask me.

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1967 AMC Marlin Fastback hood ornament

A Gallery of Classic Car Hood Ornaments

Along with real bumpers on cars, decorative hood ornaments seem to be a thing of the past. ‘Tis a shame too, as they really added that extra bit of personality to a car. Here’s a collection of photos showing some of my favorite hood ornaments, via Flickr.

Pontiac hood ornament


1956 Chevy Belair hood ornament

1956 Chevy Belair

1929 Ford Model A Special Coupe hood ornament

1929 Ford Model A Special Coupe

1949 Ford hood ornament

1949 Ford

Chrysler hood ornament


Brooklands Bentley Driving Tests - 1939 Bentley 4.5 Litre Vanden Plas Tourer (FYU 313)

1939 Bentley Vanden Plas Tourer

06b 1955 Buick Century - Hood Ornament (E)

1955 Buick Century

Brooklands New Year's Day Meet 2012 - 1934 Hudson Terraplane (YSK 315)

1934 Hudson Terraplane

1932 Buick 8 Convertible Coupe_IMG_3994

1932 Buick 8 Convertible Coupe

1934 Plymouth Emblem

1934 Plymouth

1967 AMC Marlin Fastback hood ornament

1967 AMC Marlin Fastback

Packard Goddess with Glass Wing

1939/40 Packard

1956 Cadillac Coupe De Ville

1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville

1941 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe

1941 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe

1934 Dodge Brothers Pickup

1934 Dodge Brothers Pickup

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Burger King logo, 1969-1994

No-Go Logos

I’ve always considered myself an armchair graphic designer, particularly when it comes to logos. A logo is a really easy and effective way to convey an image about your business/club/whatever. And while I’m all for modern styling, logos are one area where I’m old-fashioned. Too often, companies will update their logo for seemingly no good reason, and it’s usually for the worse. So let’s take a look at a sampling of logos and emblems, both old and new, and see if my stodgy views are justified.

Burger King

The original BK logo was simple, yet effective. A nice, quirky little font and the bun halves got the point across. Not as iconic as the golden arches, but still good.

Burger King logo, 1969-1994

Burger King logo, 1969-1994

The font on the logo was made blander in 1994, then five years later BK unveiled a SLAMMIN’ new look:

New Burger King logo (1999 - present)

Burger King logo (1999 – present)

Yeah, it’s the same basic idea, but what’s the point? For some reason the buns are shiny now (a bit odd). And everything was slanted, a sure way to show that the Whopper is now totally in your face! Oh well, at least they’ve atoned for their unnecessarily slick image with their Creepy King ad campaign.

Winner — Old logo.


Readers outside the U.S. Northeast may not know of ShopRite, but it’s your basic grocery store chain. Originally founded in 1946 as Wakefern Foods, ShopRite arrived on the scene in 1951. Just like BK, their classic logo (introduced in 1974) is simple, clean, and visually appealing. I’m not sure what typeface is being used but I like it. And the shopping cart full of cannonballs tells me I might run into either Wile E. Coyote or the top-hat guy from Stratego when I’m shopping, so I like that right off the bat.

ShopRite logo (1974 - 2002)

ShopRite logo (1974 – 2002)

But of course, this wasn’t good enough, so in 2003 this already dated new look was unveiled:

ShopRite logo (2002 - present)

ShopRite logo (2002 – present)

OK, first off the new typeface sucks. The old one conveyed a sense of gravitas and authority. When you shop here you shop RITE, dammit! The new one kind of suggests, “Hey, if you’re not too busy later, maybe you might wanna come here and look around? Maybe? If not, that’s OK too.” Just too weak and ineffectual. The shopping cart is pretty much the same, except they’ve made a point to show that they sell more than one shape of grocery now. But watch out, pick the wrong melon and your cart might just EXPLODE with savings at any moment!

Winner — Old logo.


The Plymouth brand was introduced by Chrysler in 1928, and its logo went through a number of changes over the years. The original one represented the Mayflower, which as we all know came to symbolize European hegemony over the Western Hemisphere. But on the car, it looked pretty good:

1947 Plymouth ship logo ornament

1947 Plymouth ship logo ornament

1947 Plymouth logo badge

1947 Plymouth logo badge

The badge is neat enough, but how sweet is it having a toy ship in plastic on the hood?!? But starting in the early 1960, all Chrysler makes were re-branded with the so-called “Pentastar” logo:

Plymouth "pentastar" logo

Plymouth “pentastar” logo

A bit understated, but it certainly became well-known enough, so I suppose it was effective. However, as Plymouth’s fortunes faded over a number of years they went retro and brought back the Mayflower. Just in the wimpiest way possible:

Plymouth sailboat logo

Plymouth sailboat logo

That right there is a logo bad enough to kill a company, and that’s exactly what happened. The last Plymouth rolled off the assembly line in 2001 and had to bear the shame of displaying what looked more like a crappy model sailboat than one of the most famous vessels in history.

Winner — The original logos, or even the pentastar replacement.

Denver Broncos

Over the past 15 years or so, more bad logo changes have been made in the world of sports than in any other. For too many teams, “tradition” equals “low sales,” and so every few years it seems another team kicks sand in the face of its past and rolls out a ghastly new look.

One of the worst offenders is the Denver Broncos. From 1962 until 1997, they sported one of the best logos in the NFL:

Denver Broncos Logo (1968 - 1992)

Denver Broncos logo (1968 – 1992)

I’m a lifelong Oakland Raiders fan, and even I can admit that this is a damn cool logo. I mean, how awesome is a horse that shoots a laser blast from its snout? (That is a laser, right?)

But then in 1997, the Broncos sold their soul to Nike and unleashed this monstrosity:

Denver Broncos Logo (1997 - present)

Denver Broncos logo (1997 – present)

The oh-so subtle incorporation of the Nike swoosh is bad enough, but the fact that it looks like something an Arena Football League team would use is even worse. This is design-by-committee at its soulless worst. And while fans will point out the fact that the team won the Super Bowl the year they adopted this garbage, they know it’s coincidence and nothing else.

Winner — Do you even have to ask?

New England Patriots

While not nearly as awful as the Broncos, the New England Patriots went from classic to craptastic. After ditching their first design (a tricorner hat), they busted out good ol’ Pat Patriot:

New England Patriots Logo (1971 - 1992)

New England Patriots logo (1971 – 1992)

Sure, Pat has a rather sinister look on his face for a guy wearing stockings, but it sure was the most distinctive logo in the NFL (and AFL before that). But according to the Wikipedia article on the Patriots, the logo was too busy and therefore too expensive to reproduce and so they ditched it. I’m sure they saved a ton with the new design, but at what cost?

New England Patriots Logo (1993 - 1999)

New England Patriots logo (1993 – 1999)

Many fans dubbed the new logo “Flying Elvis,” but I dub it “Flying Crap.” This looks more like a logo for an insurance company than a football team. Sure it’s reliable and can produce an actuarial table like no one’s business, but it doesn’t belong on a football field. Oh well, it gives me one more reason to hate the Pats I guess.

Winner — Pat Patriot in a New England minute.

I could devote a whole site to bad logo choices, but I think one post is enough for now. But by all means let’s hear your suggestions! I promise to think about giving you credit if I post a followup.

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