This article was first published in 2004.
The history and lineage of a marque is often used
to sell cars. This sort of marketing strategy is often employed when the new
model is only so-so - and here's a prime example. Jaguar has a proud history of
motor racing and style, as you can see in this line-up - XKs, E Types and Mark
IIs are amongst the most collected vehicles on Earth. But - huh - what's that
ugly thing on the near end? It's fair to say the square headlight XJ-series of
the late '80s rode on the shirttails of previous models, had little innovation
and made little impact on the prestige market. It sold poorly and did little
more than highlight Jaguar's need for more development. The current Jags, we're
assured, have no need to hark back to the glory days of old...
Here's another sensational ad along similar lines.
The new (in 1994) Citroen Xantia is pictured here alongside its Granddaddy - the
DS19 of 1955. The DS19 brought technologies such as disc brakes, hydro-pneumatic
suspension and a power-operated gearchange, aerodynamic efficiency and creative
styling. It's no wonder DS is a classic. But the new Xantia? Well, it doesn't
have much to push on its own apart from the technologies of 1955... (The 3.0-litre
Xantia Exclusive is a pretty decent drive, though.)
No need to introduce Mercedes-Benz - the oldest
car manufacturer in the world. When you've built up the credibility of M-B you
can afford to get a little flamboyant with your advertising techniques. This
2000 ad doesn't even mention any cars in the range, rather it simply reinforces
(no pun intended!) the strength and safety that's built into every model. With
crumples zones in 1951 and ABS in 1978 you get the feeling they know what
they're doing. An ain't that well protected baby elephant cute?
Current hype is also another effective marketing
tool. The introduction of the Mitsubishi Evo 6.5 Lancer was a brave move by
Mitsubishi Australia (who are often labelled as cardigan kings) and the motoring
press went absolutely wild over it. The Evo 6.5 T.M.E. Lancer is vehicle built
for pure speed complemented by tremendous road holding and handling - the
ultimate street weapon. At around 75 grand, though, the Evo T.M.E. was no
bargain and they took an awful l-o-n-g while to shift from the showroom floors.
Note the "Hurry - last few remaining" label across the top of this ad. The same
"last few remaining" line could've been used almost a year later...
In contrast to the Evo, Mitsubishi has had a great
time flogging off cooking model Lancers under the pretence that they're somehow
kindred souls. "One look at the sporty exterior of the new Mitsubishi Lancer MR
coupe and you're left in no doubt as to the car's rally heritage." Says this
advertisement. Hmm. Perhaps it should be "One look under the bonnet and the new
Mitsubishi Lancer MR Coupe and you're left in no doubt it shares little with its
rally-going stable mate." But at least these Lancers actually sold
The sheer desperation to promote a car as
something it isn't is nothing new - take this early 1978 Ford ad as an example.
The XC-series Falcon/Fairmont was no hot performer in base 4.1-litre guise but
it's amazing the image that you can push when you whack on some standard alloy
wheels, "Touring" suspension and some bonnet scoops! While Holden released its
vastly improved HZ Kingswood range (with Radial Tuned Suspension) the big Ford
became a relatively numb handling machine. Its live axle rear - especially with
the LSD - was as nervous as a deer caught in your headlights and, boy, did it
snap oversteer. We know because, well, we used to own one... Mr Jones will need
his gloves to keep this devil under control!
When pioneering technology is on offer from a
manufacturer you can expect to hear all about it. And, back in 1984, the public
sure heard about the Cordia GSR turbo - it was advertised more than almost any
other vehicle! In an age when a performance car was something like a twin-cam
Alfa GTV or a rotary Mazda RX-7 (both with old carby technology), the Cordia
turbo was a monumental leap forward for the average performance car buyer. This
ad introduces Joe and Barb Average to the principle of 'Turboelectronics" - the
GSR's ECI fuel injection system and its water-cooled turbocharger. "A super
lightweight turbine impeller reduces turbo lag" and "temperature, throttle
position, battery voltage and fuel mixture are masterminded by the computer." It
all seems obvious now, but if a whole new way of running an engine were
introduced tomorrow, chances are you'd want to know all about it!
Since assaulting the market with various twin-cam
engines in 1986, Toyota has been singing the praises of its "02 Advantage". This
1989 advertisement showcases everything from the Camry and Tercel twin-cam
wagons to the turbo DOHC Supra and the quad cam Camry.
The same full-page ad also folds out into this
beautiful engine cut-away. The example engine is the quad-cam Camry 2.5-litre,
which was technologically a mile ahead of the opposition (the SOHC, 12-valve
Nissan Pintara Ti, for example). A swirl-type intake manifold, platinum-tipped
spark plugs (for durability), sequential fuel injection with bi-directional
injector nozzles, multi valves, a sophisticated combustion chamber design and
twin-cam technology is explained. To this day, the 2.5-litre Camry V6 engine is
more high-tech than some of the brand new local V6s...
If Toyota's late '80s line-up is meant to appeal
to your mind, this Triumph TR7 ad from the late '70s is focussed at arousing
other parts of your anatomy... "Can a 6'6" blonde find true happiness with a 5'2"
chartered accountant?" That's the question on this bloke's mind, coz it was
unlikely the factory 69kW output was going to do much for him...