Who wouldn't want to buy a car with skeedaddle and nickel nursing economy? This series of jazz-infused TV ads for the 1960 Plymouth Valiant uses such schlocky literary zing to sell one of America's first real economy cars.
Slipping into the domestic car market on the heels of the finned behemoths of the 1950s, the Valiant must have seemed like a breath of fresh air to America's car-buying public. Its smaller size appealed to customers hit by recession at the tail end of the '50s — people to whom large, gaudy land yachts must have seemed anathema. It also offered a reasonable choice to folks who weren't ready to cram into the small, noisy Volkswagen Beetle.
The Valiant was about as close to revolutionary as a mid-sized family sedan could be. Not quite as crazy as the rear-engined, air-cooled Chevrolet Corvair, and not as humdrum as the plain Jane Ford Falcon, Chrysler's engineers managed to design a car that was economical and interesting to look at. Its new Slant-6 engine would be a Mopar staple for decades.
The world has since moved on to smaller, lighter, and better things. But Valiant holds a place in American automotive history as one of Detroit's few successful attempts to offer something new and practical.