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Posts filed under ‘Media’

Car Ads and Brochures:
Car and Driver, March 1984

April 24, 2013 by Matt

March 1984 Car and Driver

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I recently bought this issue on eBay. It has a fantastic review of the then-new Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE, an uprated variant of the first-generation car powered by larger 13B rotary engine. Between that and a road test of the contemporary Audi 4000 quattro (which I have owned and loved), I decided it was time to be able to turn the pages of the issue for myself.

Reading it was a delight. The road tests seemed to be far more detailed then than now, with fewer pictures and more involved descriptions of the driving experience. And then there were the advertisements, nearly worth the price of admission alone. I’ve scanned a few notable ones.

At top is great spread beautifully detailing Audi’s new quattro AWD system, and below is an ad for the Mercury Cougar, a car whose looks have not aged quite as gracefully as its (now defunct) manufacturer might have hoped:

March 1984 Car and Driver

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Mazda purchased the centerfold spread of the magazine to bring the buying public up to speed on the intricacies of its newest flavor of RX-7:

March 1984 Car and Driver

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Chevrolet’s ad is a bit of a head-scratcher, juxtaposing jaunty Southwestern enthusiasm with words like “synonymous,” “vernacular” and “refined:”

March 1984 Car and Driver

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The angle of the photograph in Ford’s spot for the Mustang SVO cleverly disguises the fact that the aero headlights intended for the car were not okayed by the feds until the middle of the following model year:

March 1984 Car and Driver

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Only a couple of pages apart, contrast Alfa Romeo’s wholehearted embrace of the emotional sell…

March 1984 Car and Driver

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…with BMW’s resolutely serious approach to advertising their 533i:

March 1984 Car and Driver

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Finally, we have a couple of non-car ads; first, one for Kenwood’s cutting-edge tape deck audio system with “wings” that swing out:

March 1984 Car and Driver

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And one featuring Recaro seats, examples of which many enthusiasts would pay dearly for nowadays:

March 1984 Car and Driver

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My automotive history sweet spot exists somewhere around the mid-’80s, so having the issue on hand to peruse was a real treat.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series chronicling interesting automotive advertisements and brochures. Read the other installments here:

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Car Ads and Brochures:
1995 Nissan 300ZX

April 15, 2013 by Matt

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

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Dug this one out of an old stash during a recent visit to my parents’ house. I can’t remember if I got it from the dealership or from a local car show; regardless, it’s a nice snapshot of Nissan’s last turbocharged Z-car during one of its final years here; it would depart our shores after the 1996 model year. I’ll let the pictures (mostly) speak for themselves.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

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1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Fantastic shot of a Steve Millen IMSA 300ZX. Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

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1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Beautifully simple lines. Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

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1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

This spread is especially nice; the technical illustrations on right page are printed on a translucent sheet which overlays a full-color photograph from the same perspective. Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Wonderful cockpit. I remember sitting in one in a dealership in the mid-’90s and thinking, “This feels perfect.” Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Click image to enlarge.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series chronicling interesting automotive advertisements and brochures. Read the other installments here:

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New Ron Howard Film Chronicles
1976 Hunt-Lauda F1 Rivalry

April 12, 2013 by Matt

It’s difficult to overstate how much I’m looking forward to this film.

Ron Howard’s upcoming movie Rush depicts the action, tensions and interpersonal drama that characterized the epic 1976 Formula 1 season. Chiefly concerned with the rivalry between two top drivers—charismatic British playboy James Hunt and methodical, determined Austrian Niki Lauda, both supremely quick in their own ways—the film’s trailers (you can see the first here) have set the online automotive community ablaze with commentary and anticipation.

The director, of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind fame, is an avowed Formula 1 fan, so there’s hope for we internet F1 geeks that the gestalt of the sport will be convincingly translated to the big screen. A quick review of the trailers certainly promises a gripping, action-packed film true to the spirit of the 1976 season.

That said, I do have a couple of concerns:

  • Chris Hemsworth seems slightly miscast as Hunt. He may convey his affectations and joie de vivre, but his face has a kind of boyishness irreconcilable with that of the more grown-up looking, rakish Hunt. Casting Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda was a masterstroke, however; he seems to have the Austrian’s appearance and mannerisms nailed.
  • Biographical accuracy. I’m not so much concerned about technical precision—the filmmakers used a combination of CGI, replicas and vintage racers for the action scenes, and Apollo 13 is renown for its level of technical detail—but the personalities, themes, and events must be presented as they existed and happened from a historical standpoint. I would less concerned if Howard’s award-winning effort A Beautiful Mind hadn’t taken rather large liberties with very crucial elements of its subject’s life story. If the new film turns out to be “inspired by” rather than “based on,” (the latter implying a more faithful rendering), I’ll be very disappointed.

Rush hits theaters in the US on September 20, 2013.

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Audi R8 V10 Plus Ad: The Animal Within

March 15, 2013 by Matt

Note to other performance automakers: This is how you do a commercial if you want to get your enthusiast base fired up about your flagship’s capabilities. None of that gentle-winding-through-a-wooded-backroad crap—which, ironically, Audi’s also done—just pure, raw, unadulterated power, full stop.

Aside from the visceral appeal, it’s quite a brilliant ad for Audi in that it directly addresses one of the main criticisms leveled against their R8 supercar: It’s too user-friendly, too sterile, too easy to drive quickly and not edgy enough to be called a proper supercar. As a result, the entire focus of the clip is on the roaring, crackling, popping, savage, well-nigh alive quality of the car’s engine—with a nice shot of the ultra-wide rear tires thrown in for good measure—dispelling any notion that the R8 is some kind of ho-hum “speed appliance.”

Between this and their well-received Super Bowl commercial, Audi’s marketing has been firing on all cylinders lately. I particularly appreciate the ads’ focus on the cars themselves, instead of simply trying to gin up an emotional reaction via a non-automotive storyline. It speaks to the confidence Audi (rightly) has in their design and engineering that in many cases the spots highlight those aspects of their cars which, according to conventional wisdom, would have less mass appeal. Well done, Audi, and carry on.

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The 2013 Parade of
Automotive Super Bowl Ads

February 1, 2013 by Matt

Increasingly, companies try to create a positive buzz around their upcoming Super Bowl commercials by releasing them early on the internet via YouTube or another social media outlet. Regardless of its effectiveness as a business decision versus capitalizing on the element of surprise by withholding an ad until the actual game, the week-before unveiling allows us to take an early peek at what automakers’ marketing departments have cooked up, and gives us a glimpse into their self-image and priorities.

My favorite, naturally, is the Audi spot featured at top. It’s fun, it showcases the actual car rather than projecting an amorphous emotion and hoping we associate it with the brand, and it really does communicate Audi’s bravery (some would say irrational stubbornness) in persisting with a mechanical configuration—quattro—inherently dynamically disadvantaged compared to those of its rivals. Well done.

For their part, Mercedes released a mildly racy teaser spot for their upcoming CLA, a baby CLS attempting to mimic its big brother’s swoopy lines and curb appeal in 2/3 scale. There really is little here besides the age-old (and admittedly effective) “sex sells” tactic.

The Kia ad is a teaser as well, and it certainly takes the “most potential to be truly bizarre” prize.

The cheeseball award this year has to go to VW‘s somewhat cringe-inducing faux-Jamaican accent office guy ad, a commercial that, as mentioned above, attempts to channel what the automaker hopes is the feeling drivers experience when behind the wheel of a VW, but somehow comes up short.

And then there’s Lincoln. Hapless, floundering Lincoln’s marketing department couldn’t even come up with a fresh idea of their own, so they called in air support and enlisted the “help” of social media so owners could supply them with a premise for their spot. In general (pun intended), I like Ford the best of the Big Three, and so I have every hope in the world that Lincoln finds its footing in the midst of the cloud of global luxury marques, but after witnessing their initial attempt at crafting an original commercial, I’m somewhat less optimistic about their chances of survival, to say nothing of actually thriving.

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Movie Stars: The Ferrari 328

January 16, 2013 by Matt

Alright, so maybe the fact that the car’s only in the clip for the first 20 seconds doesn’t really warrant its addition to the “Movie Stars” post series, but indulge me. Besides, is there a more inspired choice for a music video car than a mid-’80s Ferrari 328? Big kudos to whoever’s responsible for making the car a part of the intro sequence to Sleigh Bells’ video for their song “Infinity Guitars,” whether the band, the producer or the director, Phil Pinto. It sets up the tone of the rest of the video, and as a bonus includes a bit of engine noise, making the Ferrari more than just eye candy. Well done indeed.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing cars which featured prominently on film or television. Read the other installments here:

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Fantastic Documentary on F1’s Turbo Era

January 8, 2013 by Matt

Dovetailing nicely with the previous post, if you have an hour or so to spare, enjoy this clip. It’s part 1 of a 2-part documentary detailing what qualifies for some as the most technically fascinating period of Formula 1: the Turbo Era of the 1980s. It comprises a span of time, ending roughly with the banning of most electronic “driver aids” in 1994, when F1 technology was truly at the vanguard of automotive innovation. In some ways, the F1 Turbo Era is akin to the Apollo Era of spaceflight in that it stirred a sense of wonder with respect to its engineering achievements that really hasn’t been felt since. Sure, modern F1 tech is sophisticated in the sense that the execution is unparalleled and the engineers sweat the details, but in many ways an average sports car’s engine trumps its F1 racer’s counterpart, what with its variable valve timing, direct injection and advanced materials. At least for a little while, up until the early ’90s, engineers were given much more leeway, and in the process created absolute monsters of race cars that thrilled us and made us stand in awe of the men who could tame them around a circuit.

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The Spannerhead Seven™ for 2012

December 31, 2012 by Matt

Spannerhead Seven Award

For the second year running, let’s compile a list of the the seven most enjoyable/significant automotive publications of the past 365 days, the Spannerhead Seven™:

  • Autoblog. A mainstay of the online automotive press, this site’s opinions are almost always right on the money, and their motorsport coverage (esp. F1) is top-notch as well.
  • Autoextremist. Essays on the automotive industry from a former insider, the language is cutting, the writing razor sharp and the insights spot-on.
  • Car and Driver. A pillar of the automotive media world, Car and Driver‘s reporting and features are frequently impudent and always interesting.
  • Left Lane News. Often first with breaking developments in the automotive world, Left Lane provides eminent reporting and commentary on political and car industry-wide happenings.
  • Motoring Con Brio. Fantastic photography and pitch-perfect taste in cars highlight this beautiful blog. The editor’s Monday “grab bags” are not to be missed.
  • Tamerlane’s Thoughts. One of my new favorites, this one has a little of everything, from thoughts on upcoming cars like the new Tesla Model S to ruminations on classics and a host of other topics as well.
  • Top Gear. An institution among car buffs, Top Gear is the standard by which all (and I do mean all) automotive shows are judged. Highlights of 2012 for the program include the India Special (technically broadcast on the 28th of December 2011, but we’ll count it for this year) and especially the 50 Years of Bond Cars feature.

Thanks to all of you for reading these past 12 months. See you next year!

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The Nissan Skyline Racing Pedigree Began Here

December 24, 2012 by Matt

As if any reminder were needed, this clip consolidates the case that the post-war racing heritage of Japanese automakers extends almost as far back as that of outfits more commonly renown for their competition pedigree, such as Porsche.

The misconception, of course, is that Japanese cars have no character, no soul; they’re relatively sterile both in their demeanor and in the amount of racing success they’ve given birth to. And yes, in the race featured in the clip the Skyline does lose to the sole foreign entrant, a Porsche 917—but the effect on Japan’s burgeoning racing culture of the fact that the Skyline held its own for a few laps cannot be overstated.

Via Tamerlane.

Merry Christmas to all my faithful readers! You’re the best gift a blogger could ask for.

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