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March 31 Weekly Open Thread: Dueling Commercials

Why do we here at Car Lust work so hard? For what? For this? For posts about goofy old cars? Other web sites, they do articles about high end super cars that a total of 29 people actually drive on a daily basis, super-expensive classics that touch asphalt one day a year, and snarky treatises on the detailed ins and outs of the auto industry, and get up to 25 million hits per month. 25 million! Why aren't we like that? Why aren't. . .ummm. . .we like that? Upside-660

Because we're crazy, driven hard-workin' believers in weird cars, that's why. Those other web sites think we're nuts. . . .whatever (we are, btw). Was the Vega nuts? (yes) Pontiac Aztec? (yes) Gremlin? (yes) Allanté? (yes) Were we nuts when we pointed to the AMC Hornet and said it was The Best Bond Car Ever? That's right, we bad-mouthed the 1969 Camaro and you know what we got? A bazillion comments. So we went and bad-mouthed the BMW 3-Series a few months later, and do you know why? Because we really like lots of hits.

But I digress.

It's pretty simple. You write about cars you really like, treat them fairly, and you gotta believe anything is possible. As for all the goofy cars. . . .that's the upside of looking at cars lots of ordinary people live. . .and die. . . with. N'est-ce pas?

Astute readers have probably already guessed that I just parodied a fairly controversial Cadillac ad, which was itself parodied by a Ford ad. As much as we here at Car Lust eschew politics -- seriously, we eschew politics -- I felt this little tit-for-tat marketing campaign might be good fodder for polite -- SERIOUSLY: POLITE -- discussion. I realize the cultural milieu surrounding them is almost inherently political, but we really need to confine comments to the content of the ads, what they say about the respective companies and the core message of each. Do they alienate any of their core customers? Bring in any new ones? Videos below the fold. And feel free to discuss anything else.

My opinion? I'm having trouble fathoming why a commercial that celebrates the benefits -- both material and non-material -- of hard work and perseverance would be at all 'controversial'. But then, to each their own. And the irony of this being from Cadillac, which has graced these pages more than once for their, um, rather sub-par performances (hint hint), makes it all the more intriguing.

But I digress.

Obviously they're both right. They're both hawking vehicles -- let's not forget that part of it -- that were designed, built, marketed, and sold by a whoooooole lot of crazy, driven, hard-workin' believers who wanted to make something more than a two-wheeled wooden cart to haul a religious icon or load of turnips around, not to mention making a better life for themselves than hauling around religious icons or turnips. And all those ecologically-correct environmentalists? Probably posting their composting research to the Web on a computer designed by a couple of crazy, driven, hard-workin' tech gurus. That shade-grown free-trade coffee didn't fly up from Costa Rica on the backs of magic unicorns either. As for the other side, well, the nicest car in the world isn't much fun if you're drowning in your own sewage. So please, try to maintain some perspective.

Image comes from the Fox News (Oh noes! More flames!) web site.

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Scion: 10 Years After

(This post was submitted by longtime Car Lust reader, commentor, and occasional contributor Tigerstrypes.)

Scion at 10 1

I'll admit that I make it a habit to see what turns 20, 30, 40, etc., years old. But I'll also admit that I was caught off guard by Scion's 10th Anniversary until I saw their Scion 10 Series commercial:

 

  

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September 23 Weekly Open Thread: The Factory of Life

Commence Conformity Protocol. . . .

Simulation is beauty. . . . .    

Compliance is security. . . .

Thus begins one of my current favorite commercials, Infiniti's "Factory of Life": 

Some of the best commercials are those that manage to relay an entire backstory in a few short seconds of film. The obvious progenitor to our current subject is Apple's iconic "1984" Super Bowl commercial introducing the Macintosh. The idea goes way back, of course, arguably starting with (on film anyway) Fritz Lang's equally iconic 1927 film Metropolis: all three portray a world of mechanistic conformity in which a hero awakens to the reality of his drab situation and takes on The System. Since the days of Henry Ford's newfangled mass production line came into operation we've seen this concept any number of times, from 1976's Logan's Run to The Matrix, so the premise behind this commercial isn't really groundbreaking. Similar stories have also played out in other media, notably Ayn Rand's 1937 novella Anthem, in which our possible dystopian future overlords have banned even the very words "I" and "me" in favor of the collective "we." Still, our Infiniti commercial has the advantage of jamming an entire film -- or at least the first 45 minutes or so -- into a minute or less.

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Great Commercials: "Oh, what a feeling!" (1980)

Submitted for your consideration, a catchy tune from the groove-yard of forgotten favorites that sold millions of cars:

January 14 Weekly Open Thread--Complete the following sentence: "Chevy runs _________."

As usual, this is your place for all discussions automotive. I have a couple of items to get the conversational juices going.

DeepFirst off, in the news last week, it was reported that GM is retiring its "Chevy Runs Deep" tagline in favor of a more "global" slogan: "Find New Roads." In a discussion thread over at TTAC, where the columnists were never impressed with the whole "Runs Deep" thing in the first place, commenters proposed alternatives ranging from snarky ("Find New Management") to serious ("Work or Play, It’s Your Chevrolet"). That last one's pretty good; I think it beats the snot out of "Find New Roads." Any GM slogan ideas from you, the Car Lust readership?

Speaking of Chevys running,...

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1985-2005 GMC Safari / Chevrolet Astro (M-body platform)

(Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Tigerstrypes)

 

1985ChevroletAstro_700

Car Lust has discussed a bit on the M-body twins, the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari (but mostly the Astro) on the Face-Off series as they battled it out with their cousins, the “Dustbuster” minivans. Judging by the results and by the comments, the Astro/Safari won, though it must be said that the “Dustbusters” gave them a ride for their money. In said article, we find this rather summarizing piece of information:

“The Astro and its Safari twin debuted in 1985 and represented GM's first response to the revolutionary and amazingly successful Chrysler minivans. The Astro was an odd fit in the segment--perhaps unsurprisingly, considering it was a 1980s GM product, the Astro represented an attempt to compete with the ground-breaking Chrysler minivans without really capturing what made them so special.

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Plymouth Cricket

Extinction. It happened to the dinosaurs, the wooly mammoth, sabre-toothed tiger, trilobite, passenger pigeon, and the badge-engineered Plymouth Cricket. The Cricket's not just extinct, however, it's also all but absent from the fossil record, a car so obscure that many expert automotive paleontologists have never heard of it.

Have you seen this Mopar?And no, I'm not exaggerating. Just try to find an intact Plymouth Cricket, I dare you. Neither Craigslist nor any of the major car-trader websites lists a Cricket for sale anywhere in North America as of this writing. There is no Plymouth Cricket owners' club, either--Google the phrase "Plymouth Cricket Club" and you get plenty of information about a community athletic league in England, but nothing about the car.

Jalopnik called the Cricket "the amazing disappearing Mopar" and speculated that it may have been the worst car Chrysler ever sold. It wasn't; the Aspen and Volaré have it beat by a mile in that department. Any car that "aspires" to the title "Worst Ever" has to be memorably bad to even be in the running--but the Cricket isn't even remembered for its inadequacy. Our own Chris Hafner, who once famously wrote that "bad cars can be incredibly interesting," has never so much as mentioned the Cricket in passing in nearly five years of blogging. That should tell you something right there.

So, does the Cricket truly deserve its obscurity? Should we mourn its extinction, as we do that of the Carolina parakeet, or should we leave it to rest in peace at the bottom of the memory hole?

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Great Commercials Double Feature--The Coolbear and a Cool Bear

Following up on yesterday's post on the Great Wall Coolbear, here's a Coolbear commercial from Chinese television:

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Great Commercials/Our Cars--"Connections"

The first time I saw this commercial, my first thought was, "Toyota's ad agency filmed an 'Our Cars' post."

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100,000

Over 100kDad and I were in the "Battleship," the grey '76 Ford LTD, somewhere on I-76--I don't remember where we were headed. For the last couple of miles, Dad had been paying very close attention to the instrument panel. "Instrument panel" is kind of too strong a term for what the LTD had: a CinemaScope wide-screen speedometer, a gas gauge, and a bunch of dummy lights, none of which were lit up. The engine sounded normal, the car was tracking straight and true, but Dad was very intently focused on something. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing," he replied. "Just hold on."

He started slowing and pulling off into the median, extremely attentive to his speed and rate of deceleration. He came to a precise stop and pointed at the odometer, a very satisfied look on his face.

"00000.0", it read. All zeroes.

At Dad's insistence, we got out and stood in front of the car and shook hands, a modest ceremony to commemorate what was, at that time, something of an accomplishment: getting a 1970s Detroit car to hold together for 100,000 miles.

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Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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