The Best Automotive Super Bowl Ad Of All Time Was The 1970 GTO Humbler Spot That Only Aired Once And Got An Option Package Killed

The Best Automotive Super Bowl Ad Of All Time Was The 1970 GTO Humbler Spot That Only Aired Once And Got An Option Package Killed

1970 was the absolute zenith of the muscle car era. It all was going great guns. The cars were wilder looking, more powerful, more sexy, and faster than anyone could have imagined that they would ever be. The marketing was also completely off the wall with wild ads being pushed by every company that played right into the testosterone pumping veins of the guys who wanted to own these monsters. Pontiac was among the most creative with Jim Wangers calling the promotional shots as he had been doing for a decade at the brand. It was Wangers who came up with some of the most inventive, evocative, and successful branding for the GTO and other models in the Pontiac lineup. We’re not sure he was 100% responsible for this ad but it certainly has his fingerprints on it. While Hank Stram and his Kansas City Chiefs were running over the Minnesota Vikings and nearly 45 million Americans were watching the ad below came onto their screens. Unfortunately for Pontiac, some of those 45 million people were high ranking GM executives who were already feeling heat from insurance companies and the general public about these land-based rocket ships they were building and marketing towards kids. So when an ad came on that was promoting an option that may or may not have been legal by showing a guy trolling for street races, they freaked the F out.

So the ad below is famously known as the “Humbler” spot because it is introducing what the company was going to call its “Humbler” option in the form of dash controlled, vacuum operated exhaust cutouts. As the kid in the commercial does, the driver would pull the knob and the pipes would open letting all of that 4ooci, 350hp music fill the air, the drive in, the burger stand, or the starting line on whatever street the kids gathered to race on. Amazingly, after this ad was shown one time it was pulled out of rotation and never seen on television again. Presumably on Monday morning after the game, calls came down from on high to cancel the VOE (vacuum operated exhaust) option and cancel it effective at that second. Because of this, only 233 1970 GTOs were sold with this option before it was stopped. Pontiac freaks will tell you that if you look at the bracket that holds the Ram Air knob under the dash there is a catch where the cable for the VOE would have gone…if they ever sold it in volume.

November 1969-January 1970 manufacturing dates were the only cars that could have received the installation of the VOE because it was after the game when the hammer came down on it and hard. Someone had to have lost their job over it, even if it wasn’t a high level guy we’re sure that someone’s head was lopped off. That’s just how stuff works. Today Waldron Exhaust reproduces the system as the factory made it. So while your car may not have been an actual “Humbler” equipped model, it can be now.

Modern commercials during the game, especially car commercials have become all theatrical and preachy. This was straight ahead, mine is bigger than yours, horsepower, rumble, gut check stuff. You’ve gotta love it!


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23 thoughts on “The Best Automotive Super Bowl Ad Of All Time Was The 1970 GTO Humbler Spot That Only Aired Once And Got An Option Package Killed

  1. mooseface

    That was a real looker of a car, too.
    Now that we have a golden age of muscle happening here, I wish they’d roll out a nice fastback car like that.

  2. Ted

    I’ve had a handful of 70-72 Lemans/Tempests and they in my mind are still the best looking Ponchos. Ever.

    We all owe Jim Wangers something, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone like him in the industry right now?

  3. BeaverMartin

    That is an awesome add. For some reason I don’t think it would have worked for the 2004 GTO though.

  4. Tom Slater

    Just me or is there something rapey in the last line “This is how it’s going to be, baby”
    Ad doesn’t do much for me
    Cutouts on a GTO, though, I dig.

    1. Jeff Binkins

      Yeah, it’s just you Tom.
      That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day.

      BTW, good job. You have been completely stipped of your nads.
      Step over here to see the new Prius.

  5. Lee

    What happened was, right after the ad aired , the Fed called Pontiac and read them the riot act about not complying with noise restrictions and emissions control being bypassed. Pontiac then immediately cancelled the option. A total of 223 GTOs were built with VOE. No Ram Air cars had it. Part of the option was the use of the 1969 Judge stripes..

  6. Sam Strube

    Nothing sounds worse than a Pontiac big block un-corked… they killed it because the deep throaty exhaust note that it provided sounded more like Linda Lovelace gargling than a finely cammed street machine.

    1. BeaverMartin

      I hope your going for satire in your statement because a Pontiac V8 sounds like pure mechanical pleasure and there is no such a thing as a Pontiac “big block” they’re all the same external dimensions. Sure it doesn’t sound like a Ferrari, but it does sound like a full throat-ed American punch in the gut.


      although an untrue and inaccurate statement the linda lovelace gargling part was pretty damn funny….

    3. Steve

      Well you obviously don’t know anything about Pontiacs. They never made big/small blocks. 326-455 blocks are the same. They had different stroke and bore and 2 different main normal sizes. My car nut friends love it when I hit the cutouts on my 455.

  7. Jim Martin

    Don’t get me wrong the 1970 Goat was a great car but 70 was not the best year for muscle cars. Starting with 68 they put smog control crap on the motors. By 1970 they passed the Clean Air Act so each year less and less HP. After 73 forget it. Now with higher tech we have both cleaner exhaust and more HP again.

    PS……I wouldn’t call a GTO a fastback in any year. Mustang yes.

    1. DF

      What? Hey maybe on dem Ponchos smog was on the 70 models but smog did not hit Buicks GS455 cars until 71 models..

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