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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

10 unforgettable TV ads about cars and trucks

Every one of us has a list of automotive TV commercials that made such a strong impression the first time we saw them, they're now in our memories forever. Whether the message moved you or made you laugh, whether you loved the vehicle or hated it, some ads simply outlast their eras, so well done that you could watch them over and over again.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/entertainment/10-unforgettable-tv-ads-about-cars-and-trucks/
130 REPLIES 130
RokemRonnie
Advanced Driver

Musicians sometimes get accused of "selling out" when they license their songs for use in commercials. When Bob Seger was questioned about licensing Like A Rock to Chevrolet, he said that a lot of the people who build Chevy trucks are his fans and if he could help them sell some pickup trucks he would.

It should be noted that while the excerpts from the song fit the commercials well, Like A Rock is about a mature man looking back at his youth.
limoguy
Detailer

Every time I hear that song I hear "Buy a truck."
Studenorton
Instructor

ISTR that Bob used to be a heck of a Blazer fan, so he's at least no hypocrite.
dbucknh
Pit Crew

The "Sell Out" label got attached to a Boston Band named The DelFuegos in the 80's when they did a Miller commercial.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5MMct8efwE
Zephyr
Instructor

Isn't every song Bob Segar ever did about a mature man looking back on his youth?
Studenorton
Instructor

Nah; In "Ramblin' Gambin' Man" he's the youth. Gosh, that was a long time ago.
hyperv6
Engineer

I only recall two here and Like a Rock is the only one that really stands out. It was one of the best commercials ever as many think Chevy when they hear that song.

The song actually fits as Chevy at the time marketed how long lasting and how the majority of the trucks built were still on the road. They often featured older and new trucks in the same commercial.
SilentBoy741
Instructor

I don't remember any of these. I remember the song, but don't remember the ad.
Oldroad1
Technician

I remember that Nissan truck AD. The truck head on towards the tube, dirt and clods a blasting. What really made me laugh was the front clip and facia shaking and clattering so violently it looked as though the front end was gonna bust off into pieces before the video ended. That's the chance you take when you choose slowmo video for effect. I don't think that truck sold very many copies and I believe it was because of that commercial. But then, they were also butt ugly trucks.
ogSVT
Pit Crew

Came in here for the 2004 Super Bowl Ford GT ad. Left disappointed.

Gotta agree with hyperv6, the majority of the ads on this list are very forgettable/average.
TomP
Intermediate Driver

I can't believe they didn't include the most iconic car commercial of all time, with the tune that still sticks in people's heads 30 years later. Now, that's effective advertising.
"Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet."
DRD
New Driver

This is one of my favorites... https://youtu.be/IU8FBnYzsAs
F360Spider
Detailer

I liked Paul Harvey's "Farmer" one the best.
55Customline
Intermediate Driver

I agree, this is a very powerful message.
Waterwizard
New Driver

All very entertaining! However - (showing my age) - the Volkswagen commercial that asked the question, what does the plow driver use to get to his plow? Was not only interesting but beautifully filmed.
SilentBoy741
Instructor

There was one a long, long time ago, with Joe E. Brown as an angel or cherub or something, for a special edition on the Beetle. I just remember him saying his signature "Ooh! Ooh!" and "They called it the Sun Bug."
SilentBoy741
Instructor

Oops, my mistake, it was Joe E. ROSS, not Joe E. Brown. Ooh! Ooh! I messed it up!
TewksburyCee
New Driver

Feels like you completely missed the all the ads from Volkswagen starting with Klinen GTI, Mr Roboto Mk 4, Stinky Chair Mk4, and the Spanish Rabbit/GTI with the greyhounds chasing the rabbit. And then there was Mr K and Dogs Love Trucks.......
PinckneyJim
New Driver

The 1990's Dodge Viper commercial with the Steppenwolf Magic Carpet Ride background music. An open road with the Viper in all it's glory with a classic tune. Stirs my car soul.

Pinckney Jim

Oldimpala
Intermediate Driver

I remember being in undergrad when the 300ZX ad came out. I loved it. Their ads at the time were quirky, enjoyable, and we'll put together.

I also remember one called "fascination" where a kid knocks a baseball into a room with Dale and it's essentially a museum of their best cars, ever. Or their hardbody/pickups that ended with him holding a dog... Saying "Dogs Love Trucks.

Also remember the Ram/Harvey ad. Great ad, great copy, and great targeting your market

VW had some killers. For the Cabrio in the early 00s with Nick Drake's Pink Moon, emphasizing it's about the drive, not the destination (kinda my life's philosophy), or the Jetta ad with J. Ralph and a guy crashing a wedding, obviously getting back the girl he truly loves. Ends with the words Start Something.

I worked in ad production for a Fortune 20 for a long time. Not a lot of fresh ideas out there. We had far more creative ad folks fifteen years ago (let alone fifty); good ad copy seems cyclical. I think we've been in a down cycle for the past ten or fifteen years.

TimK
Detailer

I'm a Ford guy but enjoyed these:
The Plymouth Cuda series of ads with the southern sheriff telling the young Cuda driver, "You in a heap `o trouble, boy."
The Dodge Ram ad featuring Tony Stewart and showing doors flying as he was blowing the doors off the competition was good.
I also liked the Trans Am commercial when the stop light turned green the Trans Am ate the "super car" car in front of him then burped.
Still443
Intermediate Driver

The Southern Sheriff ads were Dodge Challenger ads, but you're in the right family.
RedBarchetta3
New Driver

People, people, people. No list of automotive commercials is complete without the Little GTI commercial from the 80’s. Maybe the author is too young to remember. Thankfully someone has preserved it on the Tube. https://youtu.be/3zcm4oS9IaM
jikemansta
New Driver

I preferred the version with Hit the Road Jack.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFMA9qR2DLQ

This commercial aired January 23rd, 1986. It appeared during a broadcast of "Simon and Simon " on WBTV Channel 3. WBTV was the CBS affiliate in Charlotte No...
RichardD
New Driver

If you're GTI fan, you have to watch the "UnPimp" Commercials.  Drop it like it's hot.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv157ZIInUk&ab_channel=leftlanenews

MoparMan
Advanced Driver

The majority of these commercials I NEVER saw; excepting the Honda/Like A Rock/Farmer & Toys. Thank goodness I only had to suffer through the "Smaht Pahk" once ( and to think a Southern accent is considered negatively)!! As another poster mentioned, the iconic Volkswagen commercial should have been included. Now, get off of my lawn!! LOL!! 🙂
sclin10
Advanced Driver

I can't get past that homely actress from SNL.
danoreilly
New Driver

You're kidding, right? Nothing from other than the 21st century was "unforgettable"? What about the great Dodge and Plymouth commercials for the Charger and Barracuda? The Ford commercial where they blew the car up at the end to show they were carrying a bunch of nitroglycerin over a rough road to show how great the ride was?

C'mon, you can do better than this!
Padgett
Detailer

Need to go back a little further for the really creative TV advertisements. Who could forget the 1970 Pontiac GTO "Right" ?
Still443
Intermediate Driver

The Humbler. Great ad.
Padgett
Detailer

BTW the "Humbler" had the VOE in a Drive-In. "Right" was two cowboys out in the middle of nowhere.

gtokdx1
Intermediate Driver

The Humbler add for sure! Really pushing the boundaries there and depicting what was really happening out on the streets!!!
gyashko
Intermediate Driver

What about Barbara Feldon's '65 GTO ad?
gtokdx1
Intermediate Driver

I saw that add several times and never realized that was Barbara Feldon. Need to watch it again!
Verneoz
Pit Crew

Chevrolet used the top of Castle Rock, Utah as the stage for the TV unveiling of the 1965 Impala. I remember that commercial. It was a classic. This is the link to an article about Chevy's use of this site. https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/return-to-castle-rock
MrKnowItAll
Detailer

That's the first ad I thought of when I read the headline. Saw it on Bonanza, iirc.
Instead.... late model stuff I never paid much attention to.
sclin10
Advanced Driver

That commercial was awesome...still is.
sclin10
Advanced Driver

And I often wonder how much they paid that model.
terryjudd
Intermediate Driver

I believe the first ad featured a 1964 Chevrolet.
mawgui
New Driver

Cougar. Farah Fawcett. Wetsuit. Almost no one noticed more than two of the above.
DUB6
Gearhead

Wait, what?  You're saying there was a car in that commercial?

JimDandy83
Pit Crew

Has Hagerty heard of a thing called balancing tires. Well if you can balance them you can unbalance them. The tires on the "uphill" ramp are set up with a heavy weight hidden inside near the top just so the tire stays still until nudged. The weight moves forward and downward propelling the tire to advance along the ramp. Try it.
brians356
Detailer

Bingo. Spotted immediately their loping nonlinear rate of rotation indicating eccentric weights placed inside the tires.
92conv
New Driver

Funny thing is? Several of those commercials I did forget about.

How can you have an “Unforgettable” list without including one of the Pontiac Trans Am commercials from the late ‘90s early 2000s?!

https://youtu.be/f9Ho-uyPock




Senna
New Driver

Never forget the ski jump ad from Audi! https://youtu.be/faiFfBxhT8s
Vrika
Pit Crew

How did manage to miss the totally outrageous VW Un-pimp your ride series. The "Looks like it could fly " segment is one of my all time favorites. https://youtu.be/pWMpHc77qNI
compaqdeskpro
Detailer

My favorite is this commercial for the 2014 Cadillac Escalade. It regards the gilded exterior and ride height as a ancient tradition of royalty, likening it to elephants and carriages. This commercial proves that somebody works at Cadillac who doesn't hang out at the Nürburgring all day and knows how to do some real marketing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjawtiwbtM8

The "Brotherhood of Muscle" commercials featuring Vin Diesel made me laugh out loud when I first saw them. Packed chock full of cheesy lines and F&Fesque cinematography, such as burnouts when already going high speeds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPbK0n5qqpU

"That's a big bull"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QEAA94FjHc

Matthew McConaughey impresses everyone with his mastery of party games

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8njnzyWiHJE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAuDTd2-Z1k
RetroRock
Intermediate Driver

Around 1964, Dan Blocker of Bonanza fame did a commercial for the Chevy Pickup dressed as his Hoss character.
He hops in the bed of the pickup a swings a sledge hammer against the inside of the new pickup's double walled bed and proceeds to show how those double bed walls protected from dents showing on the outer rear fenders.
Classic Hoss - Still remember it to this day...

brians356
Detailer

Remember that photo of Dan Blocker on his ranch riding a tiny minibike, the original kind with a Briggs & Stratton motor? The bike kind of disappeared under him.