Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Chrysler FirePower V-8
Year: 1951

Why We Love It: Just look at that design: Selling any car with a V-engine with wings should be a snap, right? With a moniker like the "sensation of the century," it had better be able to fly. That tiny air filter is one sexy beast, no?

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Auburn Road Cars
Year: 1935

Why We Love It: All based on the same chassis, the 1935 Auburns were big beasts and could be had in a variety of body styles. We like this brochure because we've never heard of or seen one of these cars built in the speedster body style, and we cannot imagine an Auburn buyer with slicked-back hair and driving goggles. Or maybe we can. Maybe that guy is us.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Kaiser Traveler
Year: 1951

Why We Love It: Kaisers were cool without even trying, the Traveler more so. The latter was a crossover before the word crossover had even been invented. The combination of a lifting rear hatch and folding tailgate and seats meant sturdy cargo room without the bloated, sea-cow styling of modern cars. It didn't hurt that the illustration made it look absolutely enormous.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Auburn Speedster
Year: 1935

Why We Love It: The Auburn Speedster is one of the most iconic shapes in motoring history. Powerful and sporty, the supercharged cars were monsters of the era, capable of triple-digit speeds in a time when most Americans had never been over 60 mph on land. Bonneville Salt-Flat feats just helped sell the fantasy.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Studebaker Champion
Year: 1955

Why We Love It: Ads like these helped create the mythology of 1950s America: smiling bright faces, sharply pressed modernity, and a relentless fascination with the future. Consider it a wildly cynical pitch in this case — the Champion was Stude's entry-level car, sold to the unwashed masses. (In other words, no, there isn't a jetpack in the trunk.)

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product:Chrysler Imperial
Year: 1961

Why We Love It: The Imperial was an early attempt by Chrysler to create a luxury brand where there was none. It didn't pan out, but it did afford an opportunity for some insane styling. (Check out the dashboard "ears.") Push-button everything and a design aesthetic that George Jetson would have considered garish? Sounds like the future.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: General Motors Acadian
Year: 1963

Why We Love It: Acadians were sold exclusively in the Canadian market through GM's Pontiac dealers, though they were never officially called Pontiacs. This type of brochure is a now-common format, a sort of convenient map marking all the car's best features. In the Acadian's case, we can note such titillating delights as "mufflers" and "rocker panels." Contain yourselves, America.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Pontiac Parisienne
Year: 1978

Why We Love It: The Pontiac Parisienne was little more than a badge-engineered Bonneville for the Canadian market, but oh my God look at that landau top! Sorry, all those luxurious late-70's features — locking doors? Ahhh! — caused a momentary lapse in concentration. Carry on.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Pontiac Astre
Year: 1974

Why We Love It: Because it makes no sense. Why rebadge the Chevy Vega for the Canadian market? Oh, right — it's a Chevy Vega. Of course.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Jeep Jeepster
Year: 1966

Why We Love It: It's youth, it's beach culture, it's a Jeep, there's a doggy. We like this one because of the, uh... features in on the Jeep. That, and because AMC had the stones to use the tagline "4-Wheel Drive Sports Convertible."

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Buick
Year: 1940

Why We Like It: Once upon a time, Buick had a proud design portfolio filled with big, bold, ebullient cars. This ad celebrates an all-new grille change that stretched across the Buick lineup for 1949. It's positively the bee's knees, you know?

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Edsel Prestige
Year: 1959

Why We Love It: No matter how much Ford's marketers tried, the words "Edsel" and "prestige" just didn't go together. The car-buying public thought as much, too. Call this brochure a homage to the lost cause. (RIP, horse-collar. Gone, but not forgotten.)

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Frontenac
Year: 1960

Why We Love It: The 1960 Frontenac wore a very old name for a very plain 1960 Ford car. Frontenac was the name of an obscure seventeenth-century French-Canadian Governor. It was first used as the name of a car company in the 1920s — a car company that failed — and Ford slapped it onto the '60 Falcon in order to give Canadian Mercury dealers something to sell. Shockingly, it lasted only one year, being replaced in by the Comet. Eventful, indeed.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Dodge 880
Year: 1962

Why We Love It: There he is folks, all that is man, loving wife, playful son, very brown car of very large proportions. Where's my steak, goddamnit — and it better be bloody!

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Imperial
Year: 1959

Why We Love It: Another Imperial ad, yes, but this one's a little different. It's a snob-appeal brochure — "Buy our car and you too can have a fancy-suited driver!" Aspirational marketing will get 'em every time.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Holden Statesman
Year: 1980

Why We Love It: It was 1980, and the color of choice was a muted, tasteful brown. People were wearing thick brown glasses with brown-tinted lenses, long brown hair, brown frilly shirts, brown shoes, brown polyester pants, and brown kerchiefs were wrapped around their necks. This Holden Statesman ad perfectly captures the time.

Gallery: Vintage Detroit Brochures


Product: Buick Riviera
Year: 1964

Why We Like It: The Riviera is one of those cars that, no matter the vintage, someone somewhere will absolutely adore. Perhaps its name infers exotic luxury, or maybe GM's designers just happened to capture the time just right. In any case, we like the simplicity of this brochure page: Car against black background, words about car. When the product is good, it practically sells itself.