• Jason Chandler

Advertising and the Muscle Car

The muscle car era saw some of the most inventive advertising in history of the automobile. From Pontiac’s Wide Track theme to MOPAR’s psychedelic colors, ads for muscle cars pushed the envelop of traditional auto advertising.

Woodward Avenue holds a special place in the hearts of all Detroit motorheads. For more than 60 years it has been the revered stretch of road where people met and cars raced. Its long open stretches begged for acceleration. Its unique mom and pop drive-ins served good food and became the ideal hangouts for those looking for a street race, to meet old friends, or make new ones.

This is probably the most famous advertisement that few people actually saw. The year was 1968. Pontiac was on a roll with its Pontiac GTO advertising with its blend of performance imagery and tiger theme. However, GM management decreed that no division could produce ads that encouraged reckless driving. So how could Pontiac show off the performance of its GTO? They did it by creating the perfect implied ad. The ad looks harmless enough: two men sitting in a Verdoro Green 1968 Pontiac GTO in the crossover median of a road by some trees. The ad copy reads “The Great One by Pontiac. You know the rest of the story.” “The Great One” referred to the GTO but what was the “rest of the story?” The sign behind the car gave the answer. Woodward Avenue in Detroit was the place for street drag racing and was famous nationwide. Therefore, the knowledgeable reader realized that the two men were waiting for someone to race. Unfortunately, GM management saw the hidden meaning too. The ad ran just once, in the March 1967 issue of Motor Trend, before GM Management ordered it pulled.

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