I nearly cheered last night when the series finale of Mad Men opened with Don Draper tearing ass across a Utah salt flat in a modified Chevelle SS. Or was it Dick Whitman? He may have been an advertising savant, but the post-war Midwesterner behind the facade has always loved cars.

For a series ostensibly about New York advertising there are a ton of great cars from the era as Don Draper switches cars with roughly the same glee and frequency as he does lovers – although without the same regret. And last night’s episode essentially cemented this.

Up until the end, the only peace he’d seemed to find as he began to lose himself was his connection to cars. No sooner had he abandoned his Cadillac in the last episode that we find him, without explanation, funding a couple of guys trying to make their 1970 Chevelle SS fast enough to race at El Mirage. As Julianne Escobedo Shepherd wrote on Jezebel this morning:

The best he looked all episode, actually, was in his element—racing cars across the vast Utah plains, dressed as Speed Racer (no, kiss my ass, Lou Avery!), wearing double-denim and exhibiting the working-class swag of a masculine Midwesterner whose first post-war job was at a car dealership. It was a strange scene that could have been in any era—the handsome drag-racer, the bewildered younger fans, the cheering blonde, the little boy in awe—except The Doors were bleating from the transistor radio, 1968’s “Hello, I Love You,” the lyrics of which are a good summation of Don’s libido. He ends up in bed with the blonde later, which we all knew would happen the second we saw her in the frame.


All you need to do is browse through the show’s IMCDB page to see just how great the car casting has been and to remember all the subplots with cars.

Forgetting the recent GM drama, remember when Don Draper walked into a Cadillac dealership and sat in that Newport Blue Coup de Ville. You knew his Buick LeSabre was yesterday’s news, even if it took him a few days to finally but it.


And then there’s that Jaguar XKE. I’ll miss the show, but at least it ended well.

Contact the author at matt@jalopnik.com.