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Car and Driver: Advertising the 1970s: These Car Ads Define a Nation Desperately Trying to Enjoy Itself

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FotorCreated

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As the revolutionary social climate of the 1960s began to lose steam under the weight of its own idealism, the once razor-sharp line between the counterculture and straight-laced America began to blur. By the time we hit the ’70s, the two had melded into an avocado-and-burnt-orange-hued decade of bell-bottomed and puka-shelled self-exploration. For a visual timeline of this decade-long transformation, one need look no further than the advertisements in C/D. What starts out largely with straight talk and black and white imagery quickly plunges into clever (and not-so-clever) innuendo and “hip” branding illustrated with full-color graphics influenced by, and in a few instances, created by ’70s psychedelic art icon and Corvette-hoarder Peter Max.

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Although a pair of gas shortages and the 1974 enactment of a national 55-mph speed limit spurred advertisements for citizens-band radios and fuel-saving devices of dubious effectiveness, the overall message remained predominately the same: A life without sweet wheels/tunes/tires/glasspacks/babes/smokes/brewskis is not a life worth living. By mid-decade, Ford zeroed in on the national vibe and struck paydirt with a series of van advertisements featuring a group of shirtless, shoeless, and mellow studs chilling with their babes après surf, inadvertently turning the act of violating the “No Shirt, No Shoes” shop-window proviso into a competitive sport.

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If you lived through 1970s, salute; if you didn’t, take a few minutes to look through the collection here and get taste of what you missed. Note: You can click or tap the ads to enlarge.

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Panasonic Model RS-820S – February 1971
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Panasonic Model RS-820S advertisement

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Snap-On – April 1971
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1971-04001

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Subaru – April 1971
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197104-001

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Maremont Cherry Bomb – May 1971
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1971-05001

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Dayton Daytona Sport – May 1971
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Dayton Daytona Sport advertisement

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General Electric 500XL – May 1971
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GE General Electric 500XL advertisement

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Goodyear Polyglas tires – June 1971
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Goodyear Polyglas tires advertisement

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Honda Motosport 125 (SL-125) – June 1971
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Honda Motorsport (SL125) motorcycle advertisement

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Firestone Mini Sport – July 1971
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Firestone Mini Sport tires advertisement

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Gulf Oil Company – August 1971
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Gulf Oil Company advertisement with Steve McQueen and Porsche 917

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READ MORE: 44 of the Most Bodacious Car Ads of the 1980s

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Cox Models Eliminator 2 – October 1971
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Cox Models Eliminator 2 model advertisement

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Jeep Commando – November 1971
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Jeep Commando advertisement

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Volvo 1800E – November 1971
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Volvo P1800 / 1800E / 1800ES advertisement

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Beck/Arnley – December 1971
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Beck/Arnley clutch advertisement

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Arrow Mach II – February 1972
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Arrow Mach II knit clothing advertisement

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Gabriel – March 1972
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Gabriel shock absorbers advertisement

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Honda Coupe – April 1972
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Honda Coupe (Z600 / 600) advertisement

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Jeep Renegade – May 1972
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Jeep Renegade advertisement

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Honda Coupe – May 1972
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Honda Coupe (Z600 / 600) advertisement

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Lotus Europa – August 1972
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Lotus Europa advertisement

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READ MORE: Advertising the 2000s and 2010s—www.Y2K.org/LOL

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Plymouth Road Runner – October 1972
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Plymouth Road Runner advertisement

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Chevrolet Vega GT – November 1972
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Chevrolet Vega GT advertisement

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Dodge Challenger – November 1972
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Dodge Challenger advertisement

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Sportgrip – December 1972
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Sportgrip advertisement

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Speed Equipment World – February 1973
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Speed Equipment World advertisement

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Volkswagen Thing – July 1973
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Volkswagen Thing advertisement

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Winchester – July 1973
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Winchester advertisement

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The Bullworker – September 1973
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The Bullworker fitness device advertisement

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Cronus 1 – September 1973
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Cronus 1 advertisement

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Brylcreem – January 1974
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Brylcreem advertisement

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Winchester – February 1974
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Winchester advertisement

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Jaguar E-type – April 1974
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1974-04001

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Pirelli – April 1974
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Pirelli advertisement

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READ MORE: Advertising the 2000s and 2010s—www.Y2K.org/LOL

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Superior Superlug – May 1974
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Superior Superlug advertisement

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Bradley GT – May 1974
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Bradley GT advertisement

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Stereo Review Model SR12 Stereo Test Record – January 1975
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1975-01002

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Dodge Tradesman – May 1975
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Dodge Tradesman advertisement

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Mercedes-Benz – July 1975
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1975-07-001

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Johnson – April 1976
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Johnson CB radio advertisement

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READ MORE: These 1950s Car Advertisements Are Undeniably Cool

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Dodge Street Van – May 1976

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Dodge Street Van advertisement

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Ford Econoline – May 1976
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Ford Econoline advertisement

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Volvo 265 – May 1977
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Volvo 265 advertisement

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Gatorade – July 1977
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Gatorade advertisement

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BAP/GEON – July 1977
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BAP/GEON import car parts advertisement

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STP Motor Oil – October 1977

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STP Motor Oil advertisement

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Realistic TR-802 – October 1977
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Realistic TR-802 advertisement

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Bulova – October 1977
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1977-10003

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Keystone – May 1978
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1978-05001

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International Harvester Scout – December 1978
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1978-12002

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READ MORE: Advertising the 1960s: These 60-Year-Old Ads Are Undeniably Cool

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