Automotive Advertising: A-Z

Automotive advertising can tell us the story of the automotive industry as well as any other medium. This A-Z of automotive manufacturer advertisements (from left to right on the wall) and some that are not automotive which simply feature cool cars or drivers, taken from the Auto-Archives libary, shows just a few of our favorites from the thousands that are stored on our system.

We have been seeing car advertisements for over 100 years now. Shiny Cadillacs, sleek Jaguars, and pink Mustangs. In the beginning, it was all simply black and white. So how has it changed? Auto advertising throughout the years has evolved tremendously thanks to imaginative, and sometimes not so effective, creative techniques. The methods for marketing cars have changed dramatically over the past 120 years. These days, we’re bombarded from all angles with slick videos, flashy print ads and more online content than we could ever possibly consume. It all began with very simple adverts, produced soon after motor vehicles were invented. The first ever car advert in a US publication appeared in the July 30, 1898 issue of Scientific American magazine and featured the headline “Dispense with a horse” and simply sold the benefits of the Winton Motor Carriage. In 1912, Henry Ford said: “Ford advertising never attempts to be clever.”

Selling this aspirational dream of the good life, still a staple of American automotive advertising, became a more generalized force during the post-war boom. Impossibly elongated Buicks, Plymouths, and Pontiacs were posed in front of streamlined modern homes, nightclubs, and swimming pools, as emblems of the era’s suburban surfeit. The first ads for imports such as VW’s Beetle, with their famously minimal “Lemon” and “Think Small” campaigns, were an intentional undermining of that consumptive delusion, symptomatic of a countercultural youth trend that would result in both hippies and yuppies joining the foreign car bandwagon. Towards the second half of the 20th century, car advertising was already a professional area for photographers. The first studio photoshoots took place in the 1980s and showed a completely new side of cars. One full of elegance and style. These were the years in which automobile ads reached their peak in numbers. There were cases when one magazine would feature between twenty and twenty-five car ads in one issue.

Abarth Exhausts

Abarth Exhausts

AC Cars

AC Cars

AC Delco

AC Delco

1970s

AC Plugs

AC Plugs

1965

Acura

Acura

1991

Adamstand

Adamstand

1994

Alden

Alden

1981

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo

1967

Alfetta Alfa Romeo

Alfetta Alfa Romeo

Allard Motor Co.

Allard Motor Co.

1952

Alpine Car Audio

Alpine Car Audio

Alvis

Alvis

1930

Amante

Amante

AMC Gremlin

AMC Gremlin

AMCO Accessories

AMCO Accessories

American Motors

American Motors

1970

American Racing Equipment

American Racing Equipment

1969

Amilcar

Amilcar

1930

AMOCO

AMOCO

1987

AMS Oil

AMS Oil

2015

Aqua Velva After Shave

Aqua Velva After Shave

ARAL

ARAL

Arnolt-Bristol

Arnolt-Bristol

Aston Martin DB4

Aston Martin DB4

Audi Fox

Audi Fox

Aurora

Aurora

1994

Austin 1100

Austin 1100

Austin-Healey

Austin-Healey

Austin Marina

Austin Marina

Automotive Products

Automotive Products

Autolite Plugs

Autolite Plugs

1967

Autosport Magazine

Autosport Magazine

1950

Avenger GT12

Avenger GT12

Aztek 7

Aztek 7

BAP Distributors

BAP Distributors

1965

Beck Arnley Belts

Beck Arnley Belts

Bell Helmets

Bell Helmets

Bentley

Bentley

Berkeley

Berkeley

BF Goodrich Tires

BF Goodrich Tires

Bilstein Shocks

Bilstein Shocks

BMC

BMC

BMW Motorsports

BMW Motorsports

BMW Bavaria

BMW Bavaria

Boardwalk Ferrari

Boardwalk Ferrari

Bob Challman

Bob Challman

Bocar XP-5

Bocar XP-5

Borg & Beck

Borg & Beck

Bosch Sparkplugs

Bosch Sparkplugs

Bowes Seal Fast

Bowes Seal Fast

1965

Brabham

Brabham

Bradley GT

Bradley GT

Brand Lotus

Brand Lotus

British Petroleum

British Petroleum

Bridgestone

Bridgestone

1987

Brooks

Brooks

1996

Buckler

Buckler

1950

Buick Lincoln MKX

Buick Lincoln MKX

Burago Die-cast

Burago Die-cast

Cadillac

Cadillac

Caltex fuels

Caltex fuels

Camel cigarettes

Camel cigarettes

Castrol Oil

Castrol Oil

Champion Sparkplugs

Champion Sparkplugs

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet El Camino

Chevrolet El Camino

Chevrolet Monza 2+2

Chevrolet Monza 2+2

1976

Chevy Sport

Chevy Sport

Chrysler 300C

Chrysler 300C

1957

Citroen DS19

Citroen DS19

Citroen ID19

Citroen ID19

Classic Motor Carriages

Classic Motor Carriages

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola

1965

Continental Tires

Continental Tires

Coenen Seatbelts

Coenen Seatbelts

1963

Conquest TSi

Conquest TSi

Cooper Car Co. Ltd.

Cooper Car Co. Ltd.

1950

Coors Beer

Coors Beer

Cragar

Cragar

1976

Cupra

Cupra

2019

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark

1981

Cyclone

Cyclone

DAF Daffodil

DAF Daffodil

1965

Datsun 240Z

Datsun 240Z

Day of the Champion

Day of the Champion

De Soto

De Soto

1957

De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera

Delage

Delage

1930

DeLorean

DeLorean

Devin

Devin

DKW F12

DKW F12

1963

Dodge Dart Demon

Dodge Dart Demon

Dodge Charger

Dodge Charger

1972

Dodge Viper SRT

Dodge Viper SRT

Don Eapsco

Don Eapsco

1965

Duckhams

Duckhams

1974

Dunlop

Dunlop

1954

Dyna Panhard

Dyna Panhard

Eagle SX/4

Eagle SX/4

Ebay Motors

Ebay Motors

ELF Oil

ELF Oil

EMPI Imp

EMPI Imp

Enco

Enco

Esso

Esso

Falken Tires

Falken Tires

Federal Mogul

Federal Mogul

1968

Ferodo

Ferodo

Ferrari

Ferrari

1954

FIAT 128SL

FIAT 128SL

Fiberfab

Fiberfab

Firestone Tires

Firestone Tires

First National City

First National City

Fittipaldi Wheels

Fittipaldi Wheels

Ford

Ford

Ford Capri II 'S'

Ford Capri II 'S'

Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger

Gabriel Shocks

Gabriel Shocks

Gates Tires

Gates Tires

GLAS

GLAS

GMC Truck

GMC Truck

GM Parts

GM Parts

Gold Leaf Team Lotus

Gold Leaf Team Lotus

Goodyear Tires

Goodyear Tires

GP Experience

GP Experience

Grand Prix the Movie

Grand Prix the Movie

Grant Piston Rings

Grant Piston Rings

1952

Griots Garage

Griots Garage

Gulf Oil

Gulf Oil

Hagerty

Hagerty

Harley Davidson TX-125

Harley Davidson TX-125

Hertz

Hertz

Hillman/Rootes

Hillman/Rootes

Honda Coupe

Honda Coupe

Honda Motorcycles

Honda Motorcycles

Hot Wheels

Hot Wheels

Hummer H3

Hummer H3

Hurst Shifters

Hurst Shifters

Infiniti M

Infiniti M

International Harvester

International Harvester

Isuzu Impulse

Isuzu Impulse

Jaguar

Jaguar

1954

Jaguar XJ6

Jaguar XJ6

Jaguar F-type

Jaguar F-type

Javelin-AMX

Javelin-AMX

1972

Jeep Commando

Jeep Commando

Jensen Motors Inc.

Jensen Motors Inc.

John Player Special

John Player Special

1986

Jowett Jupiter

Jowett Jupiter

1952

Koni Shocks

Koni Shocks

L&M Cigarettes

L&M Cigarettes

Lagonda

Lagonda

1929

Lancia

Lancia

Land Rover

Land Rover

Laser 917

Laser 917

Lea-Francis

Lea-Francis

1929

Lexus VDIM

Lexus VDIM

Lincoln Versailles

Lincoln Versailles

Loctite

Loctite

Lola

Lola

Lotus Cars

Lotus Cars

Lotus Engineering

Lotus Engineering

Lucas

Lucas

McLaren Automotive

McLaren Automotive

2012

March Engineering

March Engineering

1970

Maremont

Maremont

1979

Maserati Ghibli

Maserati Ghibli

Mazda RX7

Mazda RX7

Mehari by Citroen

Mehari by Citroen

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz

Mercury

Mercury

1964

Mercedes-Benz Classic

Mercedes-Benz Classic

MGB

MGB

Michelin

Michelin

Mile-O-Meter

Mile-O-Meter

1953

Mini Cooper S

Mini Cooper S

Mobil Oil

Mobil Oil

Momo Steering Wheels

Momo Steering Wheels

Monroe

Monroe

1968

Monroe Shocks

Monroe Shocks

Morris

Morris

Motorcraft Parts

Motorcraft Parts

Motor Trend

Motor Trend

Mustang

Mustang

NAPA

NAPA

1982

NASCAR

NASCAR

NGK Sparkplugs

NGK Sparkplugs

Nikon Cameras

Nikon Cameras

Nissan Nismo

Nissan Nismo

Norton Industries

Norton Industries

1976

Offy

Offy

1968

Oldsmobile 442

Oldsmobile 442

Opel GT

Opel GT

Owen BRM

Owen BRM

1970

Palmer Tyres

Palmer Tyres

1930

Panhard

Panhard

1955

Penzoil

Penzoil

Peugeot

Peugeot

Perfect Circle

Perfect Circle

1963

Philips

Philips

1965

Pirelli

Pirelli

1989

Pirelli - JPS BMW

Pirelli - JPS BMW

Plymouth Sport Fury

Plymouth Sport Fury

Plymouth Arrow

Plymouth Arrow

Pontiac Firebird

Pontiac Firebird

Porsche 924

Porsche 924

1983

Premiere Industrial Corp.

Premiere Industrial Corp.

1976

Pure Citation

Pure Citation

1965

Purolator

Purolator

1971

Quaker State

Quaker State

1959

Ranco Moly

Ranco Moly

1965

Renault 5

Renault 5

Renault Gordini

Renault Gordini

Rexin

Rexin

1964

Riley

Riley

Rislone Additive

Rislone Additive

Rob Walker Garages

Rob Walker Garages

Ronrico Rum

Ronrico Rum

Rolex Watches

Rolex Watches

Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce

Rootes

Rootes

SAAB

SAAB

Scimitar GT

Scimitar GT

1970

Sears Tires

Sears Tires

Sebring

Sebring

Semperit Tires

Semperit Tires

Shelby Cobra GT

Shelby Cobra GT

Shelby Accessories

Shelby Accessories

Shell

Shell

1966

Simca

Simca

1963

Simoniz Polish

Simoniz Polish

Simplex

Simplex

1960

Simpson

Simpson

Skoda

Skoda

Smiths Industries

Smiths Industries

Spark-O-Matic

Spark-O-Matic

Stewart Warner

Stewart Warner

1965

STP Oil Treatment

STP Oil Treatment

Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker Avanti

Studebaker-Packard

Studebaker-Packard

Subaru

Subaru

Sunbeam Alpine

Sunbeam Alpine

1954

Sunoco

Sunoco

Sunoco Action

Sunoco Action

Superior Wheels

Superior Wheels

1979

Suzuki TS

Suzuki TS

Talbot Sunbeam

Talbot Sunbeam

TEK Hypo

TEK Hypo

Thermo King

Thermo King

1968

Toyota Celica GT

Toyota Celica GT

Tracta

Tracta

1930

Triumph TR8

Triumph TR8

Turtle Wax Polish

Turtle Wax Polish

TVR

TVR

1967

Union Gasoline

Union Gasoline

Unipart

Unipart

1981

Valvoline Oil

Valvoline Oil

Van Der Steen

Van Der Steen

1973

Vicks Lozenges

Vicks Lozenges

1973

Vokaro

Vokaro

Volvo 164

Volvo 164

VW Scirocco

VW Scirocco

VW Vanagon

VW Vanagon

Viceroy Cigarettes

Viceroy Cigarettes

Vredestein Tyres

Vredestein Tyres

1963

Wynn's

Wynn's

1969

Yenko Vega Stinger

Yenko Vega Stinger

Yokohama

Yokohama

Yugo

Yugo