Back in 1969, a full-page ad for a car in a major magazine like Road & Track wasn’t cheap, especially for a company like British Leyland, which didn’t exactly have the resources for their American operations like, say, Ford or GM. That’s why you’d think you’d make a full-page ad with some actual pictures of the car you were trying to sell and not just focus almost exclusively on copy about the glove box, knobs, and vents. But that’s not how British Leyland rolled.
Instead, British Leyland decided to advertise their genuinely interesting Rover 2000 with a mostly text ad that talked about the car’s “capacious, padded, swing-down bin” in the dash and then implored you to look at your hands while you thought about the dash knobs they used. Here’s the whole ad, so you can experience the magic, too:
Sure, they also managed to get a shot of some serious knee action there, too, to really grab your attention, but the only picture of the car is a tiny line drawing at the top. Which is a shame, because the Rover 2000 (or, as they liked to typeset it, 2OOO) was quite an attractive and distinctive-looking car:
The ad’s focused on a concept they’re calling “ergonometry” which I suppose is basically what we’d call “ergonomics,” and, to their credit, that’s a pretty forward-thinking concept to be concerned with in 1969, when many cars didn’t even bother to label their dash controls.
The headline, with that odd, verbose quote and the whole top third of the ad are focused entirely on the glove box. The freaking swing-down, padded, knee-adjacent compartment there. I mean, I guess it’s a decent enough glove box, but is that what people were basing car choices on in 1969?
Honestly, that swing-down design looks like it’s getting in the way of those knees, really. I’m not sure why focusing on the proximity of that swing-down door to human knees was thought to be such a big deal here.
Then there’s the knobs, which BL seems very proud of:
I mean, sure, they’re very cool knobs, but are they really that intuitive? Or, for that matter, different from what everyone else was using around that time? Look at that PARK/SIDE light switch there; are you sure of how to use that thing? Or the FOG/HEAD light switch—which way do I throw that? Just in the direction of either FOG or HEAD? Why the weird bend in that switch?
I kind of adore this ad, though. I love the hilariously polite and verbose wording for everything, like the text on the mail-in coupon:
“Gentlemen: Please send me a profusely illustrated brochure about the whole Rover 2OOO, both Twin Carburetor and Automatic models.”
Looking at this, you can both see why Rover never really made it big in America, and why that’s sort of sad.