It was a bad year to sell cars, especially large American cars. For those not yet alive, 1974 arrived towards the end of the OPEC Oil Embargo—and the related record-high gas prices—and at the beginning of a mild recession.
The related social and economic turmoil of the moment largely explains the primary themes of the print ads collected below. The Dodge Colt ad uses the word “Japanese” as code for efficient and reliable. The Chevrolet Impala ad reminds would-be buyers that it’s still okay to buy a large car. Even the Buick ad is laced with subtle nods to sensible frugality.
Indeed, only the Ford Thunderbird ad bucks the trend, boasting of the car’s huge engine and real-luxury pedigree. Question: Is it just us, or is the T-Bird driver staring through the sunroof super creepy?
Enjoy the ads, and if you have any thoughts, share them below.
Cars of 1974
Cars of 1974 Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images