40 Hilarious Vintage Automobile Ads That Could Teach Modern Advertisers A Thing Or Two

By Stefan C December 11, 2023

This article was originally published on stories-en

Ads for automobiles nowadays often highlight the vehicle’s performance capabilities. They will always include a high-end interior, state-of-the-art technology, and a stylish appearance. Plus, they usually feature a stunning vehicle.

These days, commercials are light years ahead of the cheesy automotive of decades past. However, it’s important to keep in mind that those vintage advertisements were more than successful in keeping readers captivated by the print media.

The sense of humor, which was taken to new heights in classic vehicle advertising, is the most distinguishing feature. These commercials were able to make customers laugh out loud, but they also taught them something.

And let’s not mention how companies succeeded in getting customers to buy their products simply because of great advertisements. Here are some of the funniest car advertisements from the past.

Before Computers, There Was…

Nowadays, cars are all about technology. Everything in your car is likely controlled by a computer, and that’s not a bad thing. Technology helps manufacturers build vehicles that are safe for all. Tesla’s cars are living proof of how technology enhances road safety.

Image courtesy of surfingmap.club

Certainly, when it pertains to technological excellence, vintage automobiles aren’t necessarily the greatest. The issues they face are many. However, this stunning creature is indeed a monster at heart. Most auto enthusiasts would agree that this Porsche has aged like fine wine.

What Is A Gremlin’s Anatomy?

We mean this inquiry seriously and not in jest. We were not prepared for this next ad. Has anybody read about this in anatomy books? If you have, please enlighten us. We’d love to know what a gremlin’s anatomy is supposed to be like.

Image courtesy of yeahmotor.com

Good news: this is only the moniker of the vehicle. Anyhow, doesn’t it seem like a rather compact vehicle to you? For example, a dog wouldn’t feel comfortable if it was sitting there. No matter; it still boasts some respectable technical specs.

Getting The Best For Your Buck

If you just saw the caption and the picture, you might think you were paying that much for two stacked automobiles. Well, they do claim that you are receiving two vehicles in one. It seems like a pretty good offer, isn’t that so?

Image courtesy of vintageadbrowser.com

If you take a good glance at them and examine the ad in its entirety, it actually makes sense. You can learn what they’re offering and how they’re delivering it if you study the fine print. Then you would be completely blown away by how effective the advertising was.

Environmental

Neither the vehicle nor the advertisement seems old in this photo. To be fair, we think that’s a fantastic promotion. It sends the message that the car manufacturer is trying its best to be less harmful to the ecosystem than other brands.

Image courtesy of zeroto60times.com

When it comes to carbon dioxide emissions, this vehicle is, in fact, Europe’s most efficient. The collision test has us baffled, and we can’t explain why. More than anything else, the panda is an attempt to promote the car’s minimal ecological footprint. This is the pinnacle of imaginative marketing!

Lies That Have The Sweetest Taste

No one here condones bank fraud. No one should ever do anything so horrible. But here’s a way to help you get that car you’ve been wanting. Take a look at this old advertisement and give us your thoughts about it.

Image courtesy of roadandtrack.com

You might convince the bankers that it’s an economical automobile for all your books and paperwork, as the advertisement suggests, and it will seem quite reasonable. Can you tell by looking at the car that it is inexpensive? Look at that baby. It’s a Daytona Shelby that was born and raised on the track.

Subtle Advertisement

This one is not exactly an ad from the manufacturer, but it’s still hilarious. Motorcycles by Harley-Davidson are our favorite. They’re often considered to be the finest bikes in the market. But the point is that this guy is in a tough position.

Image courtesy of yeahmotor.com

He’s in a pretty bad situation. The bike he’s selling is obviously pretty good. But we’re more concerned about his situation at home. He got his lover pregnant, and now his wife has found out about his infidelity. He’s not selling the bike because he wants to. It’s because his spouse’s lawyer wants the money.

A Haughty And Meaningless Commercial 

As soon as we laid eyes on this ad, we wondered what the point was. Once you read it through, you’ll understand why we couldn’t stop giggling. Imagine looking to buy a car and wasting your precious time reading this ad.

Image courtesy of yeahmotor.com

Well, we don’t think we can even call this an ad. After describing the pristine condition of his car, he made sure to point out that it wasn’t for sale. This is more like bragging, which doesn’t make much sense, considering they’re bragging about an old car.

Effective Advertising

This advertising by Porsche is superb. The writing is pretty great as well. But there is obviously a twist here. This Porsche was available for less than four thousand dollars back in the day. It’s an iconic two-sports vehicle, the Porsche 911 Mid-Engine.

Image courtesy of ericshelton.com

In light of the price and other factors, it’s a car that younger individuals were likely able to purchase. We’re pretty envious of them since we will never have the same chance to buy a Porsche at that insanely low price.

Bravery And Honor

After this commercial, BMW might have successfully added new names to its enemy list. It’s remarkable, but they also displayed photographs of seven other high-quality vehicles from equally outstanding manufacturers next to theirs and made direct comparisons between the two.

Image courtesy of autoevolution.com

The company took a big risk with that kind of insult. It just shows how they are willing to go to any length to achieve success and stand out from the competition. Its amusing jabs at other high-end manufacturers are a major selling point.

That Car Is Not Fit For The Job

This was Volkswagen’s attempt at getting their vehicles to be chosen by the police department as their new vehicles. The thing is: the company has so many vehicles that they could’ve gone with anything else. Maybe something with a little more room, or at least more doors.

Image courtesy of vintage adbrowser.com

We have no idea why they picked a Volkswagen Beetle out of all vehicles. And it’s funny that the police force in an Alabama city (as well as in many European cities) did use this car as a police vehicle. We’re curious about how they moved criminals in these cars, considering they’re not very spacious.

There’s No True Distinction

This advertisement claims that a Lamborghini and a Volvo are identical. Once you take a glance at this picture, you’ll wonder how that is possible. These cars look nothing alike in terms of appearance o performance. So how can people say they’re the same?

Image courtesy of jalopnik.com

Let’s pretend they’re equal. In this case, which one is your go-to option? A Volvo for the whole family or a Lamborghini that can pull a trunk? Don’t worry – there’s no right answer. The fact remains, however, that Volvo has made a very good effort here.

A Car Humor With Dual Purpose

When compared to other advertisements, this one is among the most amusing. The manufacturer is telling customers that this is all Japanese they need. The humor is top-notch, and so are the image and design. However, we have to admit that it’s not easy to catch this joke.

Image courtesy of productioncars.com

Like just about every previous advertisement, the humor is the highlight of this one. You’re really astute if you got that reference. Even though it may not make complete sense, it should be enough to make you see how creative they were with this ad.

Jokes With Multiple Meanings

Sometimes, brands reuse their ads in order to save money. Other times, they recycle a previous advertisement because of its popularity. If the ad was successful once, chances are it’ll be successful other times as well. And maybe this is what Chrysler wanted to accomplish with this one.

Image courtesy of productioncars.com

They advertised a different car using the same ad design and humor. As you can see, this one is a bit easier to understand at first glance. The company is replacing curse words with Japanese characters, and that’s the joke. They can curse all they want – as long as it’s in a foreign language.

A Car For All Heights

This ad features the one and only Wilt Chamberlain and one of the earliest models of Volkswagen’s popular Beetle. The ad relies mainly on being sincere. The manufacturer has devised a fantastic formula that brilliantly combines truthfulness, education, and humor.

Image courtesy of indulgy.com

If you were the same height as Wilt, people would flat-out tell you not to buy this automobile. But that’s not all the joke. The text at the bottom is written in a pretty humorous way. Overall, we have to admit that Volkswagen did some exceptional advertising back then.

Show Off Anywhere

Dodge confuses the market with this ad by seeming to provide two distinct models. They’re just different versions of the same car. And if you examine the copy carefully, you will see that the advertisers sound quite sure of themselves.

Image courtesy of mechanix.us

Of course, there’s a “beach look” for the seaside and a “muscular look” to show off in front of friends, but what if you want to hang out at both places? In this case, you would have to get the two models instead of buying just one car.

The Lightest Bike

To make a name for yourself in the marketing industry, you have to be really creative. There are millions of marketers in the world, and they all want to make it to the top. Safe to say that the person who came up with the idea for this ad was one of the most creative.

Image courtesy of graphicdesignjunction.com

It’s not usual to see an ad that has no words at all, but they can also be pretty effective. This ad is an immaculate illustration of those ads. Just by looking at the picture, we can tell that the bike is really light, which is definitely a plus for bike lovers.

Jokes With A Sinister Twist

In comparison to previous advertisements, this one is innovative and fresh, especially given that most of the others we’ve seen focus on the technical details of the vehicle. Rather, this manufacturer decided to use a particular aspect of the vehicle as its selling point.

Image courtesy of thisisnthappiness.com

And it does it in a humorous way by subtly suggesting that this is the vehicle for you if you ever need to hide something you don’t want the police to find. That’s some gloomy stuff. But you can obviously store normal items in that space.

What Could Be Of A Better Value?

The Dodge Daytona has always been a huge success. It is no wonder that the manufacturer came up with multiple different versions of the same car – and they all sold pretty well. But the car was popular not just for its looks but also for its affordable price.

Image courtesy of cardomain.com

The car is pretty and has different versions for different drivers. Not only that, but it can reach speeds of up to 149 miles per hour. That’s fantastic, too. Customers were definitely getting a lot of bang for their buck with this vehicle.

The Advantage Of Mini Cars

Here’s yet another brilliant advertisement. The manufacturer decided to sell their car by pointing out a unique advantage. Reducing parking costs is something individuals should think about doing because they can save a lot in the long run. These costs can affect our budgets more than expected.

Image courtesy of yeahmotor.com

The SmartCar’s size is one of its defining characteristics, and it’s also a significant factor in the vehicle’s widespread notoriety. However, we have recently come to appreciate the company’s stellar reputation as one of the automotive industry’s most forward-thinking advertising and marketing geniuses.

Warning Drivers About Road Safety

This isn’t an advertisement for a motor vehicle. The message is meant to remind drivers they have to be careful out on the road. If you’re driving behind a truck, you have to be extra careful and leave enough space between your vehicle and the truck.

Image courtesy of carcanyon.com

This ad doesn’t need a lot of words to express what they mean. The image of a car with its top ripped off and that single sentence is enough to make drivers slow down when driving behind trucks. If the truck brakes suddenly, you may end up underneath the vehicle and get a “brand-new” convertible.

Dragging The Competition

There are so many manufacturers out there that car companies have to be creative when advertising their vehicles. It’s not easy to build a new car that looks nothing like existing ones or that has unique features that no other car has. So the companies have to rely on this kind of marketing:

Image courtesy of randomwander.com

The truth is that lots of cars are only popular because of brand value. Citroën decided to put an end to that by pointing out that their new car had the same features as famous cars that cost over ten times the price of their 2CV. Pretty clever.

Recreating Famous Scenes

With this ad, Fiat did a fantastic job of channeling that iconic scene from Titanic. But what exactly is the relation between the car and the unforgettable movie? It’s not like the Fiat vehicle can navigate the seas. But it does give you space to feel like you are in a movie.

Image courtesy of zeroto60times.com

The whole point of this ad was to highlight the fact that the car’s sunroof was the largest in the market at that moment in time. It could easily fit a couple who wanted to recreate scenes from famous movies. We do wonder who will drive the car in this case.

Drop The Mic!

Subaru had some brutal retorts to its rivals with this ad. This is among the most vicious comebacks ever. Like the movies, cars also get awards for different reasons. They can get awards for their design, features, or performance. And it’s obviously better to get awards for performance.

Image courtesy of pinkbike.com

Imagine that a movie gets an award for best photography and another movie gets the award for movie of the year. The latter is obviously better. And so is getting the award for the best engine. Subaru didn’t have to drag its competitors through the mud like this!

What About The Queen?

The fact that there is a rivalry between companies in the same niche is not a bad thing. The market is brutal, and they need competition in order to sell their products. For customers, their competition is sometimes hilarious, especially when it provides moments like this one.

Image courtesy of wonderfulengineering.com

This is simply hilarious. After BMW put up an ad, Audi immediately commissioned a larger ad and used the competitor’s words against them. Then, BMW made yet another wordplay – but used an even larger “billboard” to display their car. We wonder if Audi was able to get the upper hand one more time.

Relationships Are Tricky

For regular folks, getting a prenup doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s not like we have billions of dollars in the bank or valuable possessions. But rich people do have to get prenups in order to protect their wealth in case they marry a scammer.

Image courtesy of youngheaven.us

Aston Martin’s cars are not for the working class, and they’re not trying to hide it. If you own a Corolla, there is literally no need to protect it with a prenup. But if you own a $300,000 Aston Martin, you definitely don’t want to lose it in the divorce.

Audi Was Completely Committed

If this listicle has taught us anything, it’s that Audi takes their advertising game very seriously. They just don’t want to put out a simple ad; they want to get everyone’s attention. And they definitely achieved their goal with this one.

Image courtesy of thechive.com

When you buy a potent car like this one, you certainly want to hit the freeway to see just how fast your car can go. In this case, driving behind a slow driver is completely frustrating, so the ad is already warning drivers to keep in the right lane if they’re not driving an Audi.

How To Escape This Car?

Germany is the motherland of most of the popular sports cars. Brands like Audi, BMW, and Porsche all have headquarters in the European country, so it actually makes a lot of sense that law enforcement would purchase vehicles from these manufacturers.

Image courtesy of Imgur

Porsche is a German company, and police vehicles in the country are all manufactured by this brand. As we all know, Porsche cars are incredibly fast, so the chances of escaping the cops in a high-speed pursuit are really slim – unless your Porsche is better than theirs.

Size Doesn’t Matter

As we went through vintage vehicle advertisements, we found one of the nastiest ones ever. The Mini shown in this commercial has always been one of the most popular compact cars on the market. However, tiny automobiles are not popular with every driver.

Image courtesy of hiveminer.com

Do we even have to explain this ad? While most people care about size, the truth is that size doesn’t matter at all. Small ones are just as good as big ones, provided they have quality. And we refuse to talk about the double entendre here.

Tailgating Ads Are The Most Creative

Remember that other tailgating ad? The Department of Transportation is always putting out these public service announcements to remind drivers that they need to be careful on the highways. A simple mistake could cost a life, and most car accidents could be easily avoided.

Image courtesy of tilestwra.com

You might wind up with a shattered and folded-up automobile like the one on the billboard if you drive too close to trucks. Even though it’s against the law to do that, lots of drivers who are in a rush tend to forget safety altogether and risk their lives.

Tiny But Mighty

Volkswagen’s vehicles are pretty good, but that’s not surprising. German manufacturers are known for selling high-quality cars. And if you take a look at the company’s ads for their Polo cars, you’ll see that the selling point of this model is its sturdiness.

Image courtesy of hagerty.com

The tagline for this car is “small but tough,” so all the ads match that vibe. With a dozen cops squeezed together hiding behind the small frame, it gets the size across. Although it’s a still photo, we can feel the drama of a standoff. The cops know the tiny car will protect them.

A Sports Car Or Not?

You may call it a sports vehicle if you really want to. But before you make any final decisions, we’d want you to consider this picture of an Ibishu Covet ZXi, which, according to the company’s representatives, was never intended to be a sporting vehicle.

Image courtesy of yeahmotor.com

Nevertheless, it comes equipped with everything you’d expect from a sports car, including basic performance specs. The exterior design refutes the theory that it is a sports vehicle, but that’s exactly the selling point. You get to drive a utility vehicle that has the potency of a sports one.

But Can Other People Drive It?

Young people are always in a rush to get somewhere, even if they have all the time in the world. On the other hand, older people are in no rush. They just want to enjoy life. And this also applies to the way they drive.

Image courtesy of hagerty.com

With these people in mind, Peugeot put out this ad. This car is pretty fast for its category, so the company wants to sell it to older people so that maybe they will start driving a bit faster. We mean, even those long trucks are driving faster than them!

Advertising Strategies That Didn’t Stand The Test Of Time

This kind of thing just wouldn’t happen in modern times. It’s an unusual commercial, but it was also rather ingenious for the time it came out. Those days are long gone, but it’s still pretty intriguing that ads had such messages.

Image courtesy of viralnove.com

First of all, whistling at women is not “flattering,” so don’t do that. But back when this ad came out, this was a regular thing. The car is so pretty that the guys aren’t even paying attention to the lady. They can’t get their eyes off the car!

Let There Be Harmony

The following ad is yet another public service announcement. Regardless of where you live, there are probably lots of people riding bikes on the roads. These people either can’t afford a motorized vehicle, or maybe they’re trying to be mindful of the environment.

Image courtesy of onedio.com

Either way, car drivers need to respect bikers. Everyone is trying to get to their destination safely, but bikers are way more vulnerable. Let’s all share the road harmoniously and respect one another. This way, lots of accidents can be prevented.

Can We Still Get This Deal?

The world was way different in the twentieth century. We’re not just talking about technology or the way that people used to think or act. The economy was so prosperous back when our parents and grandparents were younger that even the average person could own a Porsche.

Image courtesy of sometag.com

Well, not everyone could own a Porsche, but the company was certainly more receptive toward customers. After all, they were manufacturing these entry-level vehicles just so the regular folks could buy them. Unfortunately, the cheapest Porsche these days is still incredibly expensive.

Like Father, Like Son

This advertisement is, without a doubt, Volkswagen’s finest work to date. The Beetle is a popular car, so it’s only natural the company would release different versions of it. Let’s take a minute to appreciate this ad. It’s perfect in every way.

Image courtesy of obxoutfitters.pro

The acronym ASAP appears at the top, meaning “as sun as possible.” Because it has no roof, the Beetle Cabriolet is dubbed the “Sun,” not the “Son.” It’s the most sophisticated use of language we have encountered in a car ad so far.

A Car For The Couple

We live in a patriarchal society, so it’s not surprising that some car ads would make jabs at women and the way they drive. One of the oldest stereotypes in the book is that of women not knowing how to drive very well, which is definitely not true.

Image courtesy of homedecorators.me

But back when Hurst released this car, they wanted to appeal to both men and women, so they decided to make things “adequate” for each gender. Men could feel like they were driving a 4-transmission stick while women could drive easily with the automatic transmission.

There Is No Other Way

It’s been said that those who are in need can’t be picky. The saying seems appropriate after seeing this advertisement. This automobile would be the only one available to purchase if you were desperately in need of transportation but had very little funds at your disposal.

Image courtesy of yeahmotor.com

To begin, there are about 300,000 kilometers between its tires, which is a lot. It also doesn’t have the best aesthetic value. As bad as the car may look (and be), the seller decided to be honest anyway. Even a bad car is better than having to walk to places.

BMW Strikes Again

The media has always sold the idea of true love. Usually, finding true love simply means that you have met a person that perfectly fits into your life and makes it better with their love. But that’s not the only form of true love.

Image courtesy of vitrierepinay.pro

For some people, true love comes in the shape of material possessions. BMW jokes with that by saying that customers have to be specific when they wish upon a star. Maybe true love won’t be the perfect man or the ideal woman. Maybe it will be the perfect car.

Traveling Author

Do you remember how we mentioned that some marketing agencies decide to create ads that have images that speak louder than words? While that is a pretty smart strategy, some people claim that it’s just an excuse for not having a copywriter at their disposal.

Image courtesy of @theincumbentagency / Instagram

Is a Range Rover really that great? Well, technically, yes. This car is incredibly popular across the globe, and it needs no introduction. But what is it that makes this model different from the various Range Rovers out there? Maybe the copywriter was really on leave!