1960-1964 Super Stock Drag Racing in Vintage Colour

James Kraus

1963 Plymouth Belvedere. Image: George Klass Collection

As colour film ages, a phenomena known as curve crossover frequently occurs as fidelity of the three colour dyes age at different rates. This often results in an evocatively ethereal colour palette. Such is the case with these photos from the heyday of Stock Car drag racing in the U.S.

In the 1950s when 1/4-mile drag racing was gaining legitimacy, there was little interest in racing the family sedan. No official records were kept, nor was elapsed time recorded; the winner was the car with the highest trap speed.  Continue reading

Life in the Jet Age

Today Auto Universum unveils a new tabbed page that examines the exciting and glamorous world of the Jet Age 1960s, from its roots in the mid-fifties though its gradual demise in the waning years of the decade.

It’s a lengthy 2800-word treatise, so don’t try and take it in now. Wait until tonight when you can pour yourself a Manhattan, Martini or Old Fashioned, slip into your smoking jacket, cue up some Mel Tormé or Tom Jones and savour it at leisure.

Access it with this link, or via the permanent new tab on the menu bar.

Six Strings and Four Wheels

James Kraus

JK - 1 (4)

The Rivieras surround a Claret Red 1964 Buick Riviera

A new sound hit the airwaves in early 1960s America: Hot Rod music. An offshoot of the Surf sound, this new genre was indeed similar to surf music, but the lyrics involved automotive themes, often centered around drag race culture. The first big hot rod hit was 409 by The Beach Boys, a paean to Chevrolet’s recently-introduced 409 cubic inch (6.7 litre) Turbo-Fire V8.   Continue reading

The 1960s: Halcyon Days For Hommes d’un Certain Âge

James Kraus

JK - 1 (46)

1965 Mercury Monterey with a trio of distinguished gentlemen and their consorts

According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 51% of consumer spending is now done by people over 50, yet this group is the target for a mere 10% of marketing activity; this according to Bob Hoffman of the always entertaining Ad Contrarian blog. Bob further points out that millennials, who buy barely 12% of new cars, are featured in about 99.9% of new car advertising, even though consumers over 50 are the ones that have all the money.   Continue reading

Jet Smooth Jet Age Advertising from Motown “Mad Man” Jim Bernardin

by James Kraus

Jim Bernardin in his office at Campbell-Ewald, Detroit, Michigan, 1963

Jim Bernardin in his office at Campbell-Ewald, Detroit, Michigan, 1963

Chevrolet was America’s perennial top seller of automobiles in the 1960s. To maintain that dominance they wielded an appropriately massive merchandising war chest. General Motors was the worlds largest advertiser at the time with an annual budget approaching US$2 Billion in today’s dollars. A significant slice of that expenditure went into the coffers of Campbell-Ewald, Chevrolets’ ad agency since 1919. In 1962 the agency promoted Jim Bernardin to Creative Director for the highly coveted Chevrolet account.  Continue reading

Master Purveyors of Jet Age Glamour: Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman

by James Kraus

Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman at Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, California, 1965

Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman at Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, California, 1965

During the 1960s, Pontiac brochures and advertising were dominated by dramatic illustrations created by the team of Art ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman. These lush images depicted scenes of glamour and sophistication populated by suave, well-attired cosmopolitan characters, always accompanied by a larger-than-life Pontiac with shimmering chrome and glistening paintwork.

These were images that the aspirational car buyer could fantasize inserting himself into, and they nourished the idea that maybe he himself might gain access to this beautiful and exotic world if he were to go out and buy a new Pontiac.  Continue reading