5 Classic British Car Adverts
Classic advertisements can be as evocative of a certain period as the cars themselves; the look, the colour, the message are as unique as any model. Below are some of our favourite classic British car ads, from the classy to the clever to the tongue-in-cheek.
1930s – Aston Martin – “Success after Success”
Many early car brands built their reputation with success on the track and Aston Martin demonstrate that with an ad that’s certainly not shy about their winning ways. Though Aston Martin would not win Le Mans outright until 1959, their classification success there and in other races are used to establish a certain pedigree. Not simply to sell the cars speed or beauty, but to establish how its success in road races proves its durability, reliability and controllability.
1940s – Hillman Minx – “For the motorist whose car is always in use.”
As motoring began to boom in the post-war period right through to the opening of Britain’s first motorway in 1959, the Hillman Minx is an example of the family-friendly affordable car that would bring the majority of the public behind the wheel. This early ad focuses not on luxury or speed or aspiration, but on how practical the car is for the busy couple or family.
1960s – Jaguar – “Grace… Space… Pace.”
A beautifully simple ad underlining the elegance of Jaguar’s cars and the three virtues that have endured throughout the company’s history. “Grace, space and pace”, a maxim of Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons is a slogan that is still associated with the brand today. This poster from the 1960s features three of Jaguar’s most iconic models, including the E-Type, often described as “one of the most beautiful cars ever made.”
1980s – TVR – “So Scarce It Makes Ferraris look like Cortinas”
This 1984 advert from TVR emphasises what was special about their cars and came at a time when the possibility of fully automated car production didn’t seem so fanciful. The TVR 350i was all about delivering a powerful, high performance ride from a car that had the feel of being as unique as its driver. Evoking the name of Ferrari alongside the stunning black wedge body delivered a compelling image.
1990s – Range Rover – “Some Range Rover Owners Still Check Their Own Oil.”
A cheeky 1990s ad from Range Rover playing on the elite status and affluence of their customers. The ad reinforces the aspirational quality of the car and the firmly established role of cars as status symbols.
This was in stark contrast to the original intentions of the Range Rover designers who saw the car as a utility vehicle for rural use, not a symbol of wealth for urban drivers. Nonetheless as this ad demonstrates, by the 90s, aspiration was what sold.