Monday, July 16, 2012

Art of Advertising

Car and Driver Magazine, Photo (c) Terri Lynn Coop

For a car enthusiast and memorabilia collector, a gallery of art and photography lurks in every automotive magazine. New magazines have slick full-color spreads of what is new and hot.

However, in my opinion, the real treasures are between the covers of the vintage hot rod rags from the 1960s and 1970s. 

The 1960s is when advertising changed emphasis from line drawing to photography and is considered to be the "Creative Revolution" and the birth of branding. For the first time, cars and products were sold as lifestyle choices as much as products. 

And it worked. The Corvette and the Cadillac are both cars. Four wheels, seats, and chrome. However, they represent very different outlooks on life and driving. This branding is what makes advertising art fun to collect.   

Car and Driver magazine is one of my favorites. Founded in 1955 and originally called "Sports Cars Illustrated," Car and Driver showcases the best in American cars and a solid sampling of foreign cars in every issue. The magazine is a combination of reviews, buying guides, photo spreads, and advertisements printed on nice quality glossy stock.

Individual vintage issues in decent "reader" condition typically run $3 - $5 online and at collector shows. However, the key is to always check through the boxes of magazines at garage sales, especially if the sale includes tools or car stuff. I've picked up new car magazines for a dime a piece and vintage 1960s beauties for $2 for a foot-thick stack. Always check under the Popular Mechanic issues for the hidden hot rod treasures.

Don't leave inexpensive vintage magazines behind because they aren't pristine. You have to take the good with the bad. Crumpled pages, water damage, and missing covers are common. However, the prizes, the singlepage advertisements (tear sheets) are often intact and can be turned into high quality collectible art.

What is your favorite vintage automotive advertising? The indestructible VW Bug? The sophisticated luxury cars? The untamed hot rods? Let me know and I'll see what I can dig up for pictures.

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