Different times mean different standards, but it’s still shocking to see how blatantly sexist the car industry’s ads were right up until the last two decades. Here are 10 of the most egregious examples sure to make you cringe.
10.) Hurst Dual Gate Transmission
The message is clear here. Not only will your woman appreciate that you went for the automatic instead of the performance-oriented four-speed stick, you will also have a personal key that can prevent her from using the “competition gate.” Nice touch!
Suggested By: For Sweden, Photo Credit: Hurst
9.) Subaru GL Coupe
I would have expected better from Subaru, and I’m sure the folks at their HQ in New Jersey are shaking their heads about this one. But this was issued during the time period when Subaru took over from original importer Malcolm Bricklin, so maybe we can cut them a little slack here. What cracks me up about this ad is that they compare the 1.4 L Subaru GL to a “spirited woman who yearns (really?) to be tamed”. With only 58 hp it’s more “Like a Cocker Spaniel that yearsn to be tamed.”
8.) Volkswagen Type I
I’m not sure where the myth of the woman as bad driver started. I remember as a kid watching talk shows on TV where comedians would come on and make jokes about women drivers, so maybe that’s how it spread. Again, like Subaru, I would have expected Volkswagen to have risen above that stereotype, given the breakthrough advertising created for the original Beetle (which is still studied in college advertising classes). Double fail VW and go fix those diesels.
7.) Willys Aero Deluxe Coupe
From the company that first brought you is the Willys Jeep is among the creepiest of car ads I’ve seen. The implication is that the husband is having an affair with the woman stepping into his Willys car. Upon reading the find print, its made clear that the call to action is for the husband to bring his wife to the Willys showroom so the salesmen can convince her that buying a Willys Aero is a smart idea (which is not, and she already know better – which is probably why they want he in the showroom)
6.) Oldsmobile Toronado
Here’s a very subtle form of sexism at work here. There’s no woman pictured in the ad, no reference to the “fairer sex, just the message that men are the only ones with drive. Our world is very different today. There are women who head some of the largest corporations (including General Motors), there are women who lead countries, and we have two women candidates for president. I think there’s plenty of drive demonstrated there. Oh, one more thing. What’s a man-sized trunk? Is that where the woman stashes the man after he comes home with a new Oldsmobile Toronado thinking that he’s a man with push?
5.) Pro-Trac Tires
We all know that sex has been used to sell cars, but to sell tires? Yes, even those round, black somewhat smelly things that hold up your car have been sold using sex. Check out this ad from Pro-Trac Tires to sell their line-up of tires for muscle cars, hot rods, buggies, and trucks from the 1970s.
4.) 1964 Buick Riviera
The 1964 Buick Riviera is not only a big adventure, but also a car that “only a man can really understand”
3.) Fiat 1500
What’s striking about this ad for the Fiat 1500 sports car is that once you get past the image and headline, it’s a straight read of product features. There’s no innuendo or double entendre in the body copy. However, the imagery and the headline are enough to make our list.
2.) Leyland’s Vital Statistics
Anne Aston’s boobs or the vans? Both, according to British Leyland!
Suggested By: AndehW, Photo Credit: British Leyland
1.) Dodge’s Eternal Triangle
Your Charger R/T now comes with submissive lady friends as standard!
Suggested By: Jonee, Photo Credit: Chrysler