Advertising plays a major role in boosting a vehicle to its maximum possible sales. It may seem weird, but while an engineer probably spent many a late night developing the right suspension geometry for a new model, it's equally important that the chosen advertising team is presenting the car appropriately. At the end of the day, if the cars don't sell, it will not be a success.
Anyway, here are some of the more notable advertisements from our archives...
Back in the 1970s, Japanese car manufacturers were just about crawling on hands and knees to their prospective Australian buyers. It was a tough market to break into, given the Aussie-made brand loyalty and the perceived prestige of the European cars. Subaru - for one - entered the scene pushing their econobox vehicles in a very timid fashion. Fuel efficiency, practicality and low-cost were the main quoted features of these Eastern imported vehicles. It really is a funny contrast to Subaru's magazine prominence these days; they barely even bother advertising their hottie WRX coz there's already too much demand for them! [Well, the previous model, anyway! - Ed]
European cars had it totally different back in the 70s. It seems that if a car was European (even if it was just Euro designed and locally built) - it was instantly viewed as a world leader! Arrogance oozed from every pore of these contemporary magazine advertisements; the belief that nothing else could be anywhere near as good as a Euro
obvious. Alfas, Peugeots and a few oddballs - like the 49kW Renault 1.4 - strutted around like show ponies. Pffft. I think they've had to swallow a lot of humble pie since then...
The early '80s saw the first wave of high-performance mass produced vehicles from Japan. Suddenly, those previously timid adverts were replaced by some much harder-hitting, bolder campaigns. "Something special" from Nissan was the ET Pulsar, which can be seen here associated with those "cool dude" sunglasses. Mitsubishi also had this type of ad, pushing their flagship Starion and Cordia turbos. The Starion was certainly the very first Japanese turbocar that Australians took seriously.
The Brock mobiles carried their own mystical aura of superiority. The combination of Peter Brock's profile and Holden's willingness to tie it to their vehicles was an absolute winning combination. With the relationship kicking off with the VB Brock 5.0s, there were numerous different models released prior to what was nearly the very last of the Brocks - the leaded-power VK SS. It's amazing how much of a profile the Brock vehicles had - just take a look at this advert telling how nothing else - not even a Porsche - came close! Ahh, the effects of widespread hype...
When Holden and PB went their separate ways in 1986, the newly-created HSV division filled the void. The VL Walkinshaw was a heavily developed vehicle and - sporting EFI for the first time - it was a real goer. With an impossible to miss TWR body kit and 0-100 performance quoted in the 6s, it was a car that made the desired marketplace splash. An awesome car such as this was an essential tool to try and get back those devoted Brock-mobile lovers. It worked! Today HSV is the biggest tuning success story in Australian motoring history.
And what was Mr P.Brock turning his hand to after the Holden marriage shattered? Well, take a look at this. The Lada Samara Deluxe by Brock featured "sophisticated Porsche influence" not to mention "the design magic of Peter Brock". Geez, if you reckon its body kit and mags look sad, just consider that the lil' Lada's engine went un-touched. Maybe the Polariser wouldn't squeeze under the hood...
Here is a wonderful ad to look back on. With Australians only just beginning to embrace fuel injected locally built cars during the early 80s, Ford surged ahead and gave the usual "substitute for cubic inches" spiel. Check out the amazing technology; the cutting-edge ECU board and that injector thingy-bobby. The bar graphs show the difference in performance between the injected 4.1 six Falcon 4-speed and the 4.9 litre carby V8. The V8 took 10.7 seconds to hit 100 km/h, while the alloy head'd EFI motor shaded this by a not-too-shabby 6 tenths of a second. Impressive stuff indeed! Maybe Ford Australia talked themselves into dropping the V8 during the late 80s/early 90s!?
Toyota's Corolla always had a reputation for reliable, basic transport - never anything high performance. So you can see why Toyota had to push their 1986 TwinCam Corolla very, very hard when they wanted it to appeal as a hot hatch. This double page ad had more information on it than any other car ad we've laid eyes on - the text is extra-small so that it all fits on the double-spread and there's even an engine dyno graph! Interestingly, there's a lot of tech talk on the development required to develop the 86kW/136Nm DOHC motor. Note that - at the time - Toyota were also pushing their "TwinCamry" (in both the DOHC 2.0 four and the DOHC 2.5 V6), the DOHC ST and SX Celicas, the Cressida and the Supra. Toyota's DOHC, 16-valve theme certainly received a heap of publicity! In hindsight, it's obvious that the 16V Corolla - and its campaign - were very successful. The next model Corolla was released with the option of the 86kW motor in the cooking-models, and a highly tuned 100kW version in the SX. We are still yet to see an equally comprehensive magazine ad.
The naturally aspirated 3.0 litre Supra was a very significant car during the late '80s. The big 2-door Toyota, together with the newly-released Mazda RX7 S4, were evaluated against comparable sportscars from Europe and - for the first time ever - the Japanese vehicles came out hands-down victors. At last, the Euro stranglehold on sportsters had been broken. But then - just after journos had finished raving on about the new na Supra - the monster turbocharged version came along! This car had an awful lot of power; 173kW in fact. And that, remember, was when the newly EFI'd 5.0 litre Holden V8 made 165kW... Still, the Supra T had one major downfall - its $60,000 cost was well beyond mortal men. Nevertheless, Toyota managed to earn themselves a solid reputation for high performance, with the Supra Turbo powering on to come either 1st
in every race in the 1989 Australian Production Car Championship. Mt Panorama, especially, became Supra-man territory.
Probably the most heavily advertised vehicle in Australian automotive magazine history is Mitsubishi's 1989 series Galant. Available as a SE, GSR and VR4, these vehicles were most focused on for their high-tech wizardry. The GSR featured Active ECS, which was - in effect - a productionised active suspension system. This enabled different ride height and stiffness settings, plus - as the above ad shows - terrific cornering flatness at varying road speeds. (Or maybe it was just the same photograph used in each frame?!) Mitsubishi did away with this electronic technology when it came to the ultimate Galant - the rally-bred VR4. This beast featured on other adverts in its full spotlight planted rally guise. All members of the Galant range, however, were pushed with a common "feels like Europe, works like Japan" theme. This was one of the last God-the-Euros-are-brilliant references made in a Japanese manufacturer's advertisement.
"Where there's commitment there's success". Well, it seems that Nissan had quite a lot of commitment during the early '90s. No, Australian buyers didn't get the twin-turbo ZX, the 180SX or the Silvia - but we did get the GT-R, the atmo 300ZX and the NX-R. Not to mention the Pulsar SSS. This really was an immensely strong fleet of high performance vehicles. With these cars alone, Nissan enjoyed coming up trumps in many handling tests and performance shoot-outs - there simply wouldn't have been room in the line-up for more hot-chargers. Looking back, though, these were Nissan's most glorious hi-po days (here in Australia, at least). Oh, what we'd all give to receive the R34 GT-R alongside the arrival of the S15 200SX... Where's the commitment now Mr Nissan?
Suzuki's Swift GTi really came into its element during the '90s. The hot Swift was undoubtedly the cult car of the early '90s, with just about all of those on the road sporting aftermarket wheels, a subwoofer and a tint job. After the original GTi was released in 1986/7, the all-new bodied look was just the aesthetic boost that was needed to bring the same G13B motor to the forefront of hot-hatch fame. The rev-happy 1.3 litre DOHC mill was ecstatic making its 74kW peak power figure all day - as it did during the dedicated Suzuki Swift GTi class and GT-P. As seen in this ad, Suzuki themselves were also very proud of their little hatch's numerous motorsport firsts. Hmm, and wasn't that the last time we've heard a peep from Suzuki?
Lexus also came into their stride during the '90s. Daring to take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz at the hi-end luxury game, Lexus first appeared with the long wheelbase LS400. Not surprisingly, the idea of a Japanese vehicle trying to take on the top German marques had its sceptics, but the LS was a terrific entry. At the time, Wheels
magazine took a bunch of typical BMW/Merc buyers and let them loose with a brand-spankers Merc, BMW and LS400. Much to everyone's disbelief, the LS came out Number 1 in total points! Now, while most contemporary Lexus ads depict the LS as a quiet, vibration-free luxury saloon, this unusual one-off shows its 1-UZ 4.0 litre V8 engine under full load. This randomly selected engine was subjected to Lexus durability testing - which involved the equivalent of "driving around the world at racing car speed". Just check out those beautiful cherry red manifold pipes... what a top donk.
The most flamboyant advertising we've seen of late is this advert for the Honda Integra Type R. A sexy lady lying on the beach offering the invitation to "experience the fragrance of Integra"; what on earth is this ad all about, we all pondered? After curiously turning over the tab on the end of the page, you then put your snoz a little closer to the paper and to take a whiff of some putrid glue-like smell. This, apparently, is the smell of the Type R's burning rubber! A-ha, what a ripper of an ad! Overleaf followed the typical pic and text rundown of the 140kW 1.8 litre Type R (which is an equally as ripping car, we might add!).
The worst contemporary ad campaign must surely be that tied to the Toyota Avalon. This is, believe it or not, a damn good car - but the ad sure does it no favours. The use of "the Dame" delivering those tired old references to possums, darlings and the stupid avalondriveandyou'llneverturnback theme only pokes fun at what is a seriously good car. And, with an ad like that, you'd kinda be too embarrassed to buy an Avalon if you weren't aged 50-plus! One of the few Toyota stuff-ups - and a major stuff-up at that.