Long before Photoshop and Illustrator and all of the many powerful photo manipulation, illustration, and layout software we have today was available, people publishing magazines had two choices: look like crap or have lots of talent. And there were plenty of examples of both. But today I'd like to focus on just one little bit of non-crap, this ad for car accessories from the February 1968 issue of Road and Track.
The ad is from a Pasadena, CA company named "MG Mitten Motoring Accessories," which sounds like it's owned by the guy who was HR Pufnstuf's comptroller in the Living Island local government. The ads could have been illustrated with little grainy photos, as so many were, but the delightful decision was made to have them illustrated instead.
The illustrations, signed "Deal," (for the late Dave Deal) are incredible — accurate while being loose and flowing, full of action and humor and a very tangible love of cars.
He's even precise enough so I can see through the big lie of this ad for dash covers. They list a number of makes, but the illustration clearly show's a '60-'67 VW Beetle dash — which is not listed as an option! So, time travelers looking for good deals on car accessories, beware.
It's worth noting that not every company maintained these high standards of illustration quality. Check out this STP ad in the same issue:
I mean, I'm all for a loose style for a certain effect, but come on, STP. Take more than five minutes on the damn thing.
Still, STP's phoning it in doesn't take away from the lovliness of MG Mitten's triumph. Here's the full ad to enjoy: