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Great BangShift Approved Gearhead Ads Circa 1966 – Cars, Gas, and More

Great BangShift Approved Gearhead Ads Circa 1966 – Cars, Gas, and More

It has been a while since we’ve delved into the archive here at the Lohnes Institute for automotive, racing, and cool gearhead stuff history so today, let’s dip our toe back in. Chad collects chin hair, Nutting loves G-bodies, Fitzgerald has a scooter or some nonsense, and I have old magazines by the gross. Seriously, I have ’em in all shapes, sizes, and smells. Some of you know that I had a big basement flood last year. That’s normally doom and gloom time for a guy with lots of old paper products laying around but I was able to save all but a small handful of books from the furnace, so that was good. I love these old magazines for multiple reasons. In the first place they are an amazing research tool. Yes, the internet has lots of stuff on it, but misinformation often reigns and being able to grab an old magazine to check the facts on an event from when it actually happened rather than from a racer’s memory of 50 years ago is key. I also love the ads and I know lots of you guys out there do as well. So, here’s 10 killer ads that I scanned out of a few 1966 magazines I was flipping through.


This Chrysler ad featuring Richard Petty’s hemi Plymouth immediately captured my eye because of the vibrant colors and the fact that they dragged the car around the country on an open trailer behind a box truck. This was state of the art NASCAR team stuff right here in ’66 and they were happy to have it. Imagine how cool it would be to see this scene when you were moping down the road with your parents in the mopey family car. The Petty Blue is like blasting right off the page here and I love it. (Click ad to expand)




Was there a more Holy BLEEP moment in drag racing history than when Mercury rolled out a fleet of flip top funny cars in 1966? That pretty much signaled the fact that it was all out war at the drag strips and every company was ready to go all in to claim victory. These match race wonders appeared at strips all over the country and got huge amounts of press. They were crude and heavy but hot damn were they neat. We’re calling some camera trickery on this one because those bodies are heavy as hell and Nicholson wasn’t exactly Mr. Atlas. (Click on ad to enlarge)





Like I said, the Cammer powered flip top Comets got TONS of press and not just because Mercury was behind them. Mercury made out because of all the ancillary companies that were involved with the cars like this ad for Kendall GT-1 oil. How much do you want to bet that Kendall required the body be off the car to prevent the public from mistaking this for an ad for Mercury? After all, the body had GT-1 lettered down the side big as life. That chassis is rad. (Click ad to enlarge) 




Due to our own treatment of junk ass rental cars we’re actually relieved that we didn’t exist when the Hertz Shelby “Rent-A-Racer” program was in full swing, for the short time that it was. We’ve all heard the stories of guys renting these things and racing them, swapping the engines out, and otherwise pounding them into dust. The cars are very valuable now and Hertz was so wounded they really didn’t rent anything cool again until their “fun collection” series began a few years ago. There’re like tread depth gauge checks and stuff now. Back then people claim to have gotten away with murder. (Click ad to enlarge)



We now live in a world where the gasoline we put in the car is actually destroying the very fuel system it is flowing through. This wasn’t always the case. Unlike the Hertz deal, we wish we were alive for the days of pulling up to a pump and loading up your radical street machine with Sunoco 260 which had an octane rating of right around 100. Detonation? Hell no. Today? Liquid horse pee death. (Click ad to expand)





You can almost literally hear this ad copy coming out of Jim Wangers’ mouth. The overhead cam Pontiac engine was a forward thinking idea and represented a cool niche that never really materialized in the way John DeLorean and the rest of the crew at Pontiac hoped it would. The inliner made decent power, good torque, and shuffled these cars down the road well. The reduced weight made them handle better and yes, for their time they did deliver a more “European” driving experience. The only problem is that most buyers were looking for an experience of an engine that would throw them through the back window when the landed on the gas, not for carving up a hillside. (Click ad to enlarge)




In today’s world of eight and nine speed transmissions it seems quaint that Ford would be bragging about a three speed but in the mid 1960s it was something to hang your hat on. It was also a big deal to get an automatic behind an actual high performance engine. You can see in the copy Ford trying to sell potential buyers on the fact that you can shift the thing yourself or let it slop through all three gears on its own if you choose. Today’s automakers push the same idea with their paddle shifter automatics….in everything. (Click ad to enlarge)





This ad for the 1966 Corvette struck me as cool because of the action shot with the water flying off the car and the feeling of speed that it gives. This ad from nearly 50 years ago now strikes the same emotional chords that the recently released 2014 Stingray television commercial does. It is speed, action, and refinement. See the talk of the Vette’s IRS and price point against imported sports cars? Technology and price, the same things that Chevy is pushing with regard to the Corvette to this day. (Click on ad to enlarge) 




VW ads always had this snarky, subversive nature to them in the 1960s. Take this one for example, playing off the idea that people believed a car like the Beetle would be a fad and just go away. The tone of the ad copy has a great smart ass feel to it and this ad wasn’t the only one. We like this one because the company obviously knew that they were not going anywhere for a while and had the world by the nuts. They started to make advertising reflecting that fact. (Click on ad to expand)




I likes my cars big and fast and a four speed 7-Litre Ford Galaxie with a 428 in it would satisfy those requirements perfectly. The motor was rated for 345hp and more than 460 lb/ft of torque so stepping off the clutch and leaning into the gas pedal above idle resulted in fragrant vaporized tires filling the cabin. Big cars would continue to get bigger for about 10 years and then the bottom would fall out for companies like Ford, GM, and Chrysler. These were great days. No one knew what was looming nearly a decade ahead and beyond. 





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One thought on “Great BangShift Approved Gearhead Ads Circa 1966 – Cars, Gas, and More

  1. Gary D

    I am old enough to remember seeing these ads. Hard to believe in today’s world. Pontiac was always a little strange with its ads; it seemed to always be pushing cars like this 6 cylinder with 3 speed on the floor, when it had Ram Air GTO’s, 421 and 428 cubic inch engines, 4 speeds, etc. etc. They never seemed to make it easy for the enthusiast to know about or get their really good stuff back in the early 60’s.


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