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The Two Greatest Worst Car Ads Of All Time

Posted by: Jon Fine on May 21, 2009

Late last week Jalopnik pulled together its Ten Worst Car Ads of All Time. The unquestionably two most excellent-est of the lot—in a lovely bit of global symmetry, one comes from an American company and the other comes from a Japanese carmaker—are embedded below.

I sometimes feel that the car world exists in a kind of cultural cul-de-sac (and I am not writing this to trash Detroit, which I like and am fascinated with), that it’s a place where the car thing looms so large that it crowds out practically all other potential influences.

Am I right? Possibly. But even if you disagree, you’d certainly have to concur that when the below car ads tried to hop on some prevailing culture-of-the-moment, the viewers paid a very big price.

Datsun 280Z "Black Gold," c. 1980.

Plymouth Duster "My Duster," from a very scary moment of 1985 that I'm glad I've forgotten. (Warning: 91 seconds long.)

Reader Comments

Peer Kafka

May 22, 2009 3:50 PM

This is tremendous. And much easier to consume than the referring slide show, which is unusually kludgy for a Gawker Media product, me thinks.


May 23, 2009 11:10 PM



May 25, 2009 12:09 PM

Terrific. Wonderful.


May 28, 2009 1:39 PM

There was so much subliminal messaging in the Black Gold commercial, my brain exploded!


June 2, 2009 1:07 PM

Speaking as a former member of the exact demographic group at which the Duster commercial was aimed circa '85 (i.e. 13-15 year old girls who'd soon be pestering their parents for a first car) I'd say that was just about perfect, if not brilliant. There were so many effective subliminals in those quickly-flashed images. (Bikes are for little kids! Androgynous rockstarry boys will literally flip over your Duster!) We mid-thirty somethings remember this one fondly. Having said that--good Lord, the 80's were weird..

Jon Fine

June 2, 2009 1:19 PM

After careful review, I concur with Scherry wholeheartedly. (That it apparently appeared on MTV seals it.)

That said: good gawd, a commercial with a _guitar solo._

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