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15 Brilliant Vintage Automobile Ads

It is always a treat to look back at advertisements from the past. A lot of rules and techniques have changed in print advertising from the early 90s to now, and most of those changes have been due to new technology available for design. Today, designers have a lot more tricks available when attempting to create a marketing piece that immediately captures attention; in the past, designers often had to use hand-drawn illustrations or low-resolution photographs. You may notice in browsing through the automobile ads below that many include more text than today’s posters and magazine inserts. You may also notice, though, that every ad still attempts to reach consumers with a lifestyle appeal or benefits appeal, a valuable marketing trick that is still prominent.

The following 15 vintage automobile ads are the best from their eras, and you may be able to see why. Each seem to be breaking away from their competitors with a fresh design or style that put them at the top when it came to marketing.

1909 Pierce Arrow Ad

Most ads were still in black and white at this time. This one also is different from others of its time in that the picture includes people in action, rather than just an illustration of the car.

1928 Chevrolet Sedan Ad

Another beautiful color ad in an era of black and white, this one is aimed at women. The marketers for Chevy were onto something in targeting the woman of the household, and they do it right too, with the appeal of lower prices but better benefits (performance and beauty).

1930 Ford Model A Town Sedan Ad

This ad is rather stunning with the dark black of the car against the rich reds of the mansion in the background. It seems Ford was trying to appeal to men who want a high class lifestyle, and the colors are perfect for this message.

1930 Cadillac Automobile Ad

The colors of the woman’s dressage outfit perfectly match the black Cadillac with orange stripe. The overall color usage is quite dreamy and the picture of the Cadillac owner jumping her horse in the background reinforces the “strikingly beautiful appointments” of the enclosed model.

1940 Nash Magazine Ad

The colors are vibrant, the layout is gorgeous, and the story draws you in so that any man can imagine himself as a Nash man. The extra photos with captions on the left side of the page are perfect for men who only like to skim.

1950 Ford Ad

The appeal to this ad is the headline dividing two very eye-catching illustrations; however, it is interesting that the colors of the cars are two slightly different shades of green.

1959 Plymouth Vintage Ad

This ad shows that the era of illustrations ads only is ending. This one is of a colored photograph appealing to middle-class couples.

1960 Cadillac Eldorado Seville

Showing a bit of skin has been unheard of in 50s ads made for the general population, so this one is definitely stretching boundaries during its time.

1966 Fiat Ad

True, this is an Italian car, so using beautiful models in ads were much more acceptable; however, this American advertisement shows that a sexy model with a humorous play on words can really turn heads.

1968 BSA Ad

A half-dressed girl holding onto a BSA motorcycle with a Ferrari in the background has quite the sex appeal, especially with the muscled up male model standing behind her. The use of different shades of red is quite interesting as well.

1970 Chevrolet Camaro

A muscle car advertised with a muscle man in a sweater? An interesting idea, but what is really appealing about this ad is twofold: only half of the car is showing and the models are slightly off-center.

1977 MG Midget Ad

An advertisement that definitely appealed to the younger crowd, this photo of a skateboarding stunt in the dam is a nice touch. Action shots were not very common before this time because of the lack of technology, so this ad is certainly taking advantage.

1980 Ford Van Ad

The pharaoh on the side of the van is an original touch; it does go along with the message of a king-sized vehicle. Ford was trying to make the “Built Ford Tough” appeal with an appeal to a king-sized lifestyle.

1990 Ford Thunderbird Ad

Finally in the era of vehicles in action, this Thunderbird ad shows how appealing a car in its element can be. The angle is a nice touch as well.



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